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Tourists from the US and the UK who got Covid19 said they wouldn't have traveled to #Ischgl /St Anton if they'd known what authorities knew at the time. They were left in the dark. Moreover: They are upset that there's no accountability.…
I interviewed the Tyrol politician responsible. He said they could have done a better job at informing tourists, that they'd need to have more "weltmännische" communications. Though the province basically lives off tourism, he said he was surprised how "international" it was.
For 30 minutes before making any concession, he made a number of claims that were, at best, grossly misleading. I had to call him out several times, going as far as telling him that what he's saying is simply not true, and I reminded him of the facts. A few examples:
He said they warned the public a day after a barkeeper in #Ischgl became the first positive case of Covid19. But he was referring to a press release in German (which I'd read) in which a transmission inside the bar is described as "rather unlikely". That's not a "warning".
He claimed that at the time (March 7/8) we did not know (a) how contagious the virus was + (b) that they were the first in the world to end the ski season. But in Italy, 1hr south, (a) morgues were already overflowed and (b) the ski season had been ended. Italy was on lockdown.
He claimed that the departure of 30,000 tourists wasn't chaotic at all ("überhaupt nicht chaotisch"). But tourists told me they had to pack up + leave within an hour, and that they squeezed onto crammed busses that took 7 hours for a 17-mile ride (27km). Passengers were coughing.
Tourists leaving Ischgl went "straight home" in their own cars and were asked to self-quarantine, he said. But the Brits and Americans I interviewed definitely didn't. And by forcing tourists to leave, I asked, wasn't Tyrol pushing the problem onto other countries?
Politicians from all over the world praised Tyrol for its handling of the outbreak, he said. But a German state health minister said: "Our problem isn't called Iran, it's called Ischgl," I told him. "I can't keep track of what everybody says," the Tyrol politician replied.
He said putting 30,000 tourists under quarantine wasn't an option. Especially if they are "not even allowed to ski anymore." At that point, he'd gotten flustered. He asked me to tell him what he should have done differently.
What would have been better if they'd been under quarantine in Tyrol, he asked me. "They wouldn't travel through an airport, or on a packed plane," I said. Long pause. "Well," he said. Long pause. Most were driving their own car, he said. He was going in circles.
The point is (and I try to tell my students this): You need to know the facts and be prepared for every single interview. If you aren't, you risk being taken for a wild ride. Tyrolean official's response to the mess in #Ischgl is one startling example.
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