A court in North Rhine-Westphalia had temporarily cashed in on the corona restrictions in retail. But the country is quick to implement the criticism – and puts the ordinance back into force.
In response to a ruling by the North Rhine-Westphalian Higher Administrative Court (OVG), the state has expanded the restrictions on retail. The customer limit per square meter as well as the appointment booking will not only remain in place, but will also be extended to more shops than before, according to a message from the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, these restrictions also apply with immediate effect to bookstores, stationery stores and garden centers that have been allowed to open without an appointment since March 8th.
With its amended Corona Protection Ordinance, the state government is consistently implementing the provisions of the court, said Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU). The extended appointment bookings are provided for “reasons of equality”. “It is important that the court has fundamentally reaffirmed the proportionality of our measures,” explained Laumann. Everything else is to be decided after the Prime Minister’s Conference.
Court criticized different rules
A few hours earlier, the higher administrative court had partially overturned the corona regulations in retail because they violated the principle of equal treatment. In principle, however, the court ruled that restrictions on retail trade were proportionate.
Bookstores, stationery stores and garden centers in North Rhine-Westphalia have so far been allowed to operate without serious restrictions – i.e. without booking appointments, for example. But not fashion stores or electronics chains. The differentiation between the transactions was classified as disproportionate by the Higher Administrative Court.
Process wave in several federal states
A branch of the electronics retailer Media Markt had sued. However, the Senate did not share the fundamental concerns raised by the company about the proportionality of the restrictions on the retail sector when the restrictions were repealed. In particular, it said that the restriction of the fundamental rights of retailers is likely to be justified in view of the serious consequences that a renewed uncontrolled increase in new infections would have on the life and health of many people.
Media Markt is not the only company that is taking legal action against the Corona regulations. On the contrary: More and more retailers in Germany are running out of patience after months of lockdown. The textile chains P&C and Breuninger and the hardware store chain Obi also sued the OVG Münster against the corona requirements. And in other federal states, too, the administrative courts are faced with a wave of lawsuits. The decisions are not always made in favor of the state governments.
The Higher Administrative Court of the Saarland, for example, already suspended an essential regulation to restrict retail trade for the time being two weeks ago. Here, too, it was about the obligation to book an appointment and the restriction to one customer per 40 square meters, which currently applies in many shops. The Saarland Higher Administrative Court saw this as unequal treatment compared to “privileged business premises” such as bookshops and flower shops.