Austrian government sued over coronavirus outbreak at Ischgl ski resort
An Austrian consumer protection group has filed four civil lawsuits against the country's government for failing to contain a coronavirus outbreak at an Alpine ski resort.
The cluster during the early phase of the pandemic has been blamed for thousands of infections around the world.
Peter Kolba, who heads the VSV consumer association, said the four cases - involving an Austrian and three Germans - will test the ground for a further 1,000 people who have asked to be represented by the group after falling ill with Covid-19.
The outbreak in Ischgl in February and March is considered one of the earliest "super-spreader" events on the continent.
Mr Kolba said his association has been contacted by 6,000 people from 45 countries.
About 80% of those tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Ischgl.
He accused authorities in the Paznaun Valley, where Ischgl is located, of being beholden to the interests of the local tourism industry.
Numerous infections allegedly occurred in cramped apres-ski bars where tourists often party the night away after a day on the slopes.
Alexander Klausner, a lawyer for the VSV, said one of the four cases was submitted yesterday on behalf of relatives of a man who died as a result of Covid-19.
Two others are still suffering effects from the infection in spring, while a fourth had only a mild illness.
Mr Kolba said the plaintiffs are seeking damages of up to 100,000 euro (91,319) each from the Austrian government, which holds ultimate responsibility for enforcing health regulations.