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American could face fine over local coronavirus spike in Germany

The woman had visited several local bars in the town despite having symptoms and being told to quarantine while waiting for her COVID-19 test results, reports say.

BERLIN, Germany — Officials in southern Germany are considering imposing hefty fines against a 26-year-old American woman linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases in the Alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, including at a hotel that caters to U.S. military personnel.

German media report that the woman, who lives locally and wasn't named, had visited several bars in the town last week despite having symptoms and being told to quarantine while waiting for her COVID-19 test result.

“Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a model case of stupidity and an example for how quickly one can become infected," said Bavaria's governor, Markus Soeder.

“Such recklessness must have consequences,” he added. “That's why it's reasonable for the health authorities to consider, after carefully examining the case, whether to impose appropriately high fines.”

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.

The woman, who wasn't named for privacy reasons, has been blamed for a spike in cases that pushed Garmisch-Partenkirchen above the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 in a week at which authorities are required to impose further infection control measures. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, these include a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants and a rule that no more than five people can gather in public.

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The incident also affected the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which shut down completely for two weeks Monday after confirming that “several staff members” had tested positive for COVID-19.

The resort, which is reserved for members of the American military, their families and veterans, said it is “working with U.S. Army medical professionals and local medical officials to assess the situation and conduct contact tracing.”

“Anyone who has visited the resort since Sept. 3 should monitor for any symptoms and seek medical care if symptoms develop,” it added.

A spokesman for the U.S. European Command couldn't immediately comment on how many military personnel were affected.

Germany’s disease control center on Monday reported 927 new cases across the country in the past day.