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Ischgl in Austria’s Tyrol region is known as the “Ibiza of the Alps.” What was happening in the bars there was pretty much the opposite of social distancing.
“These guys know how to do it,” said Scott Phimister, who spent a happy few days in March snowboarding and partying in crowded, sweaty mountain bars.
“These bars some of them are crazy, it's all Euro-pop and all that stuff. And the Austrians and the Germans, they just go bananas."
On March 7, the day Scott and his friends arrived in Ischgl, a barman in one of the town’s most raucous bars tested positive for COVID-19. The bar was disinfected, and the barman was quarantined, but nothing much else happened. The Tyrol government just claimed that, “from a medical point of view, transmission of the coronavirus to guests in the bar is rather unlikely.”
The barman was the first person to test positive for COVID-19 in Ischgl, but authorities had, in fact, known for several days that tourists were returning from the area infected with COVID-19, after receiving a warning from Iceland.
And tourists who were still in Tyrol , like Scott, were not alerted to the situation.
Cover: Tourists skiing on the mountain in Ischgl during early March 2020. (Credit: Scott Phimister/VICE News.)