An American military employee is facing jail in Germany after allegedly going on a bar crawl with COVID-19, infecting at least 23 others and exposing more than 710 people to the virus.
The Munich public prosecutor has opened an investigation after the woman identified only as Yasmin A from the US, went out partying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen while awaiting test results after returning from a vacation in Greece in early September with a sore throat.
On Tuesday it was reported authorities had recorded three more COVID-19 infections in people who frequented bars visited by the 26-year-old, who works at the Defense department owned Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.
Chief Public Prosecutor Andrea Mayer told German daily newspaper Bild: ‘We have an initial suspicion that we are now investigating.’
District Office spokesman Wolfgang Rotzsche added: ‘If the woman has actually consciously accepted this risk, then she should also be legally prosecuted.’
The latest cases recorded Tuesday take the total number of recent infections in the town to 59, including 25 staff at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which is reserved for members of the American military, their families and veterans.
Lawyer Arndt Kempgens said: ‘From the point of view of conditional intent, this can even lead to criminal liability for wilful and dangerous bodily harm according to Section 224 of the Criminal Code. The sentence ranges from 6 months to 10 years in prison.’
The Munich public prosecutor has opened an investigation after the woman, named only as Yasmin A., went out partying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen while awaiting test results after returning from a vacation in Greece with a sore throat
The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which is reserved for members of the American military, their families and veterans, has also shut down completely for two weeks
US Army spokesman Donald Wrenn told Bild: ‘For US civilian employees, the Bavarian regulations for the prevention of infectious diseases apply, just like for every German citizen.
‘The US Army in Bavaria keeps its soldiers and civilians as well as the Bavarian ordinances with regard to limiting the spread of the virus to a high standard. Any violation of these regulations would be inconsistent with our behavior and our efforts to keep our communities safe.
‘Our main focus is currently on the thorough and precise identification of contact persons as well as additional tests to limit the possible spread of COVID-19.’
The woman is said to have visited the Peaches bar on September 3 and the Irish Pub in Garmisch on September 4. The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort has shut down operations for two weeks.
Anton Speer, who heads the county administration, told reporters Tuesday that authorities are still waiting for the results of about 300 tests conducted Monday and it was too soon to give the ‘all-clear.’
Three new infections emerged from 740 tests conducted over the weekend.
Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, called the outbreak in Garmisch-Partenkirchen ‘a model case of stupidity’ because the 26-year-old American had gone partying despite having COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a test result.
Soeder had said ‘such recklessness must have consequences’ and suggested the woman could receive a stiff fine.
Breaching quarantine rules can result in fines of up to 2,000 euros ($2,375), but further penalties and liability for damages are possible if others become infected or businesses suffer economic harm as a result.
Andrea Mayer, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Munich, confirmed Tuesday that her office had opened a preliminary investigation into the woman on suspicion of causing bodily harm. ‘The investigation is ongoing,’ she told The Associated Press.
The woman is said to have visited the Peaches bar, pictured, and the Irish Pub in Garmisch
On Tuesday it was reported authorities had recorded three more COVID-19 infections in people who frequented bars visited by the 26-year-old, pictured
The outbreak has lead to a 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants and a rule that no more than five people can gather in public.
The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which is reserved for members of the American military, their families and veterans, has also shut down completely for two weeks.
John Tomassi, spokesman for the U.S. Army Europe, said the military is conducting its own investigation into the incident and is recommending any service members or others who had contact with the Edelweiss employee be tested for coronavirus.
The Edelweiss resort has vacation cabins and 258 rooms and suites
The Edelweiss resort has vacation cabins and 258 rooms and suites, but Tomassi said he did not have details on how many people had been staying there over the past two weeks. He said contact tracing was part of the investigation.
Germany’s disease control center on Tuesday reported 1,407 new cases across the country in the past day.
The country has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic. It has recorded over 9,360 virus-related deaths, a toll one-fourth of Britain’s.