Billionaire nightclub Sardinia. Image by Sarkaloo - Gabriele Sotgiu via wikimedia under creative commons license

Briatori’s nightclub accused of negligence over Covid outbreak

Coronavirus News The Islands

Prosecutors accuse a nightclub in Sardinia of “epidemic negligence” following a Covid-19 outbreak there last summer. The nightclub, owned by the former Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore, is linked to clusters of infections across Italy.

The 2020 tourism season on the island came to an abrupt halt after the outbreak. Two other venues – Phi Beach and Country Club – face the same charges as Sardinia prosecutors close an investigation into nightclub contagions.

Billionaire didn’t take appropriate measures

The management at Briatori’s nightclub Billionaire, a magnet for the rich and famous in Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda, allegedly failed to take appropriate measures. The prosecutors claim their staff did not receive adequate protection from the virus. For example, they did not have sufficient face masks.

Fifty-eight staff tested positive in the outbreak with client infections, including footballers and celebrities, traced back to the club.

Billionaire opened in July after the spring lockdown. Thousands of guests visited before the club shut due to the outbreak. Authorities consider the Sardinia outbreak partly responsible for a rise in cases in other Italian regions including Lazio, Campania and Tuscany.

Briatore said at the time that his nightclub had “always respected the rules. But if people are all stuck together, you can’t do anything about it.”

Briatore and Berlusconi infections traced to Costa Smeralda

Briatore himself became infected in late August. He was hospitalised in Milan, alongside his friend Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister. Berlusconi confirmed he had the coronavirus in early September, shortly after returning from his villa on the Costa Smeralda.

Pictures show 83-year-old Berlusconi with Briatore outside his Sardinia holiday home. Neither were wearing face masks.

Unions gathered complaints from staff

Unions gathered complaints among nightclub staff over work conditions, presenting them to the prosecutors in Tempio Pausania. Allegedly, staff at Billionaire who suspected they have covid-19 either did not receive swab tests or continued to work. Prosecutors also allege positive cases either went to the local authority late or not at all.

A lawyer for Billionaire’s management rejected the accusations. “At Billionaire, anti-Covid measures were adopted with the utmost care when the authorities allowed nightclubs to reopen,” she told La Nuova Sardegna. “We will have the opportunity to provide our knowledge of the records to prosecutors in order to prove that what actually happened is not attributable to any crime.”

Accusations against the managers of Phi Beach and Country Club are of failing to sufficiently equip staff with protective equipment, including face masks.

Following meetings with the management and lawyers of the accused clubs, prosecutors will present their evidence to a judge in late July. It is then up to the judge to decide with the case will go to trial.

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