Ischgl: who was really to blame?
An independent commission has examined the crisis management in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl after a coronavirus outbreak in March that apparently led to thousands of infections across Europe. The report concludes that the authorities were too slow to suspend the cable car service and that the quarantine announcement triggered panic. Commentators point to other major mistakes.
Kurz's PR stunt created chaos
Chancellor Kurz himself is responsible for the departure chaos, Der Standard comments:
“Even if the quarantine regulation for Ischgl and other areas came too late, it should have been implemented in a controlled manner by the police and politicians. But no: they messed it up, created confusion and finally ensured that thousands of tourists spread unchecked across Europe. ... Kurz wanted to take a clear stance and 'overrule' the Tyroleans, who were working out a regulated quarantine plan; to cast himself as a mover and shaker. With this PR stunt he triggered a huge panic. ... If Kurz was absolutely determined to announce a quarantine, it should have applied retrospectively - or immediately - and not a few hours from the moment of the announcement. ... An apology is overdue.”
An epidemic law from the times of the Empire
For the Kleine Zeitung, the problem is above all with the system:
“Individual misjudgements in those March days are easier to understand than the fact that the republic failed to prepare for such crises for years. .. Although security experts warned of global pandemics, at the beginning of this year Austria was still relying on an epidemic law which has essentially remained unchanged since the times of the Austrian Empire. According to the report, the special departments of the Länder had 'repeatedly pointed out' that the adoption of a modern law was needed in recent years. A draft had been finalized in the Ministry of Health, but - just like an update of the pandemic plan from 2006 - 'had been postponed due to a change of government'. This is the real omission in a supposedly well-managed country.”
Skiing holidays now being sold once again
De Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing considers such reports pointless:
“Many more such studies will be published in the coming years. With reflections on which authorities in Europe were too lax or too strict. And whether this was reprehensible or whether this kind of natural disaster simply cannot be properly managed. And whether there is such a thing as individual responsibility. If you point one finger at someone else, three fingers will be pointed at you. Snow lies in Ischgl from December to April ... Now skiing holidays are being sold there once more. They're cheap, and 'naturally all safety measures are being observed'.”