The Limits of Tirol

European diary, 11.2.2021: The mind shift came as a surprise. And one does not quite believe in it yet. Even on the weekend, one heard from Innsbruck mainly strong language and threats against Vienna. More precisely, against the (Green) Ministry of Health. And manifold attempts to somehow resist with embellished figures the recognition of the fact that in the Tyrolean district of Schwaz and especially in the Zillertal a South African and apparently particularly vicious mutation of the Corona virus is rampant, with the highest numbers in Europe.

Once again, the Austrian chancellor seemed to be ripping off his coalition “partner” and kept nobly silent about the Tyrolean rides. There was talk of an unsuccessful call in Innsbruck. That was it for now.

“Then you will get to know us” was what Tyrol’s Chamber of Commerce President Walser told those evil Viennese who demanded quarantine measures – and on the Austrian TV news ZIB 2 on Monday, as a bonus, so to speak, to the rantings of the weekend, he also presented his epidemiological “expertise” on the events of Ischgl.

It will soon be a year since the small town in Paznaun became the super-spreader of the new virus. How this happened has now been clarified to some extent. It was covered up and lied about as long as it somehow worked out. Until thousands of Corona-infected people from Bavaria to Iceland were detected as a result of careless après-ski. And then it was silent.
But that is, so Walser nevertheless not at all the crucial question. It was not yet known “from where” the virus had been brought to Ischgl. Had anyone claimed that the Tyroleans had bred the virus in a snow cannon?

Walser’s complaint about Tyrol bashing somehow sounded disturbingly familiar. As if politicians and business officials had learned nothing from the disaster, even a year later, other than that someone else always has to be to blame.

Meanwhile, borders are now being controlled again. Bavaria is planning to close the borders to Tyrol. Austria did not want to stand back there and controlled already on Monday with demonstrative stringency incoming and above all commuters at the border between Lindau and Bregenz, even if the so-called “incidence” in Lindau is only half as high as in the neighboring Vorarlberg. But even so, one can give the impression that everything dangerous basically comes from the outside.

It is clear that the Tyrolean hospitality industry and even more so the cable car industry are facing an existential crisis in the wake of the pandemic. In this situation, taking a golf vacation in South Africa, as one Zillertal hotelier did, is not really confidence-building. News about illegal lodgings and parties, ski instructor courses with clusters of mutations and tricky registrations of second residences are equally untrustworthy. And then the powerful chairman of the Economic Association and ÖVP National Councilor Franz Hörl, the head of the legendary “Adlerrunde” that calls the shots in Tyrol – himself infected by the British mutation – goes into quarantine without having a clue where he got it. Shouldn’t one worry about whether dangerous recklessness is still at work in Tyrol? Above all, self-pity. According to Governor Platter, one should finally stop pointing the finger at Tyrol.
As it says on Franz Hörl’s website? “Tyrol goes first.” Classic populism sounds like that. You always go first yourself.
But today it sounds somehow misleading. It goes on to say: “When Franz Hörl steps onto the scene, speed is the order of the day. At times he seems to double up, appearing in parallel” … “Franz is on the spot. Especially when there’s a fire. (…) That’s the only way to do politics that helps.” And: “Hörl talks Tyrol”. That sounds like this: The travel warning issued on Monday against Tyrol, was – so Hörl on Monday – a “burp from Vienna”.

A megalomaniac is speaking, a “macher” who wants to embody the balancing act between “host” and cable car industrialist, between a “mensch” and a functionary, and who can do this as long as he is successful. And he can’t do one thing that is particularly needed at the moment. To question himself and his actions once in a while.
Someone has now finally stepped on the emergency brake. Anyone leaving Tyrol as of Friday will now need an up-to-date Corona test.

Perhaps the chancellor has called his party colleague Platter once again. The instinct to know when a story is about to fall on his feet has apparently not yet completely left Mr. Kurz. But at that point the “speed” may already have been a bit lacking.