German courts are contributing to the confusion and irritation of the German population before the different national and regional regulations to combat the coronavirus epidemic with sentences, in some cases even contradictory with other courts, that overturn or confirm the decisions made by politicians. This is the case of the sentence handed down this Friday by the Administrative Court of Berlin that demolishes the order to close bars, clubs and restaurants from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., in force since last weekend by order of the Senate regional of the German capital. Sentence agrees with the owners of 11 Berlin premises who had filed an urgent complaint against the municipal order considering it disproportionate and arguing that the closure of gastronomic establishments will make young people gather in other places where there are no hygiene concepts. Curiously, the same sentence confirms the dry law issued by the Berlin Senate and that prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol in public spaces at the same time, among other things because the gastronomes did not refer to it in their complaint. The judges of the Berlin Administrative Court also consider this prohibition valid due to the fact that the danger of “disinhibition” resulting from the consumption of alcoholic beverages is avoided and that it can lead to neglect of hygiene and physical distance rules.
They also establish that their sentence only favors the 11 complainant bars and clubs, which despite everything will not be able to continue serving alcohol after 11.00 p.m., and initially excludes the rest of Berlin’s thousands of bars, clubs and restaurants from its benefits. The judges’ decision is appealable to the Berlin High Administrative Court, an option that will likely be used by both foodies and city authorities. It is not the only case in which the German judges do not resolve doubts, but also contribute to accentuate them. The prohibition issued by some German Länder to host national tourists from localities or risk areas in hotels or holiday homes in their regions has also given rise to contradictory or at least curious sentences. Three superior administrative courts have so far intervened before this controversial decision. The first this Thursday in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The Mannheim judges lifted the ban issued by the Stuttgart government by agreeing with a family from North Rhine-Westphalia, who argued that the veto arbitrarily and disproportionately prevented their holidays in Regensburg. The complainants also explained that presenting the mandatory negative coronavirus test with an age of less than 48 hours to be able to travel was impossible due to the saturation of the laboratories in their region and that it also entailed too high a cost. For the affected family with three children it meant an additional cost of 154.91 euros. The judgment of that court is applicable to the entire state located in southern Germany and in it the judges especially criticized the disproportionate prohibition. Hours later the High Administrative Court in the state of Lower Saxony issued a similar verdict and overturned the ban on lodging citizens from risk regions issued by the Hanover regional government.
In the opposite direction, however, judges in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein reacted in a provisional sentence to a similar lawsuit brought by a family from Recklinghausen who saw their holidays on the island of Sylt in the North Sea frustrated. When assessing the accommodation ban, the Schleswig High Administrative Court ruled that “if compliance with the regulations is now suspended, people from risk regions could come to Schleswig-Holstein in an uncontrolled manner, which in view of the published figures on the increase in infections, it could pose a relative threat to public health services. As a result of the first two rulings, several German federal states have already announced that they will lift the ban on lodging for national tourists from risk regions, also due to signals from the German Constitutional Court that apparently considers the measure illegal. Executives from Bavaria and Hesse announced today that they will lift the ban before Sunday and other regions are expected to do the same.