March 22, 2020 / 11:58 AM / 6 days ago

Austrian minister: Tourists who left recently are extremely negligent

ZURICH, March 22 (Reuters) - Austrian tourists who flew overseas in recent days or who try to cancel emergency return flights to extend vacations are "extremely negligent", Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Sunday, urging travel limits to halt the coronavirus.

Austria, which has 3,026 coronavirus cases and nine deaths, is working with Lufthansa unit Austrian Airlines, Ryanair Holding's Laudamotion and others to help those among the estimated 30,000 Austrian citizens abroad who want to get back home, Schallenberg told reporters in Vienna.

On a new website,, would-be returnees can view emergency flights and register. Returnees must pay a fee and agree to a 14-day home quarantine upon arrival.

Some Austrians are seeking to cancel emergency return trips to book trekking tours or extend beach stays, Schallenberg said, adding that he had also learned of tourists who ignored government warnings against flying abroad in recent days.

"This is extremely negligent and borders on complete irresponsibility," Schallenberg said. "The Austrian Foreign Ministry is not a travel agency -- this is an effort to bring people home as a result of a global emergency. If you want to come home, please hurry up." (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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