July 27, 2020 / 10:03 AM / 19 days ago

Austrian resort town St. Wolfgang grapples with coronavirus outbreak

VIENNA (Reuters) - The Austrian town of St. Wolfgang, a popular holiday destination, has reported 53 coronavirus infections since Wednesday, triggering concerns of an early end to the summer tourist season at one of the country’s best known lakes.

More than a thousand people have been tested in St. Wolfgang since the first case became known on Wednesday, Christine Haberlander, health minister of Upper Austria province, told ORF radio on Monday.

Two hotels in the picturesque town, once a favourite vacation resort of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, have been closed and curfew has been moved up to 2300 p.m. from 0100 a.m.

The virus spread via hotel staff with 52 of those 53 infected working in the town’s accommodation and restaurant sector, Haberlander said. One of those infected was a visitor. More than 400 test results are expected on Monday.

Guests who stayed in town from July 15 will be informed about the coronavirus outbreak, the provincial government said.

After the ski resort of Ischgl, a four-hour drive away, hit the headlines as a European coronavirus cluster last winter, many businesses in St. Wolfgang fear visitors will stay away for the rest of the season.

“It shows, that popularity is also a curse,” Gudrun Peter, who runs the White Horse Inn, told ORF radio. “I rather assume that this season is more or less over.”

The provincial government currently does not plan to close more hotels or impose a quarantine, but is ready to do so if necessary, Haberlander said.

Austria’s outbreak has been relatively limited compared with other Western European countries. It has recorded 20,510 cases and 713 deaths, though infections have accelerated in the past month.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Giles Elgood

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