Restrictions imposed by the German government on the populations of individual federal states to curb the spread of the coronavirus were fundamentally in line with the constitution, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday.
The so-called emergency brake, which was in force in Germany from April to the end of June, obliged states or districts to put in place curfews and other restrictive measures if the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people rose above 100 on three consecutive days. The measures included school closures if the rate surpassed 165 on three consecutive days.
The court handed down two rulings on Tuesday, one regarding curfews and contact restrictions, the other regarding school closures. Both rulings dismissed complaints against the measures that had been lodged with the court.
Several of the complaints were made by parliamentarians from the business-friendly Free Democrats, one of the three parties in the incoming coalition government.
What did the court say?
In its ruling, the court said the restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet up and the curfews from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. were proportionate to the situation.
It said the ban on in-person school attendance did not violate the right to schooling enshrined in the German constitution, with schools implementing online lessons when school closures were ordered.
Why was the measure controversial?
The “emergency brake” agreed by the federal government in April proved controversial, as under the current version of the Infection Protection Act, Germany’s 16 states usually enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy with regard to enacting and enforcing pandemic protection measures.
The Constitutional Court is to hand down a ruling at a later date on some 100 individual complaints regarding restrictions on the retail sector, cultural events and hotel industry, among other things.
The “emergency brake” was put in place as the country fought a third wave of the pandemic. There have been calls from some state premiers for the brake to be reimposed as a fourth wave rages in the country but so far nothing has been decided as a new coalition government prepares to take power.
tj/wmr (dpa, Reuters)
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