Lüneburg / Hanover (dpa / lni) – In Lower Saxony, anyone can shop again without a vaccination certificate or armband: The 2G rule in retail has been suspended for the time being. The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Lüneburg overturned a cornerstone of the state government’s anti-corona measures with a ruling on Thursday. The restriction in retail to vaccinated and convalescent people is not necessary in the current infection situation to ward off the coronavirus. She also violates the principle of equality (Ref .: 13 MN 477/21).
The rule only applied since Monday. The trade association had previously sharply criticized them and warned that with 2G the Christmas business in the city centers would largely come to a standstill.
Health Minister Daniela Behrens regretted the decision: “The decision is of course to be accepted in a constitutional state. This applies all the more against the background of the advancing spread of the Omikron variant.
“Due to the current knowledge of science, I am very concerned that all unvaccinated Lower Saxony people could become infected with this new variant of the virus within a short time,” said the SPD politician. This would also be associated with more severe disease courses. The heavily strained health system would find it difficult to cope with such a development. Behrens appealed to retailers, if necessary, to restrict access to fully vaccinated or recovered people via the house rules.
The state government will take up the decision and examine the anchoring of an obligation to wear an FFP2 mask for all retail customers in the Corona regulation. A spokeswoman for the state government of Lower Saxony confirmed to the dpa that the 2G rule has been suspended with immediate effect.
With the verdict, the OVG remained true to its critical line of the restrictions imposed by the state government. There is no serious public interest in continuing 2 in retail, the court wrote. Even the agreement to the contrary by the federal and state governments on 2G in retail is not sufficient as a reason. The court called these resolutions from early December a “decisive political determination”.
Woolworth GmbH, which also operates retail outlets in Lower Saxony with a mixed assortment, had sued the OVG. The 13th Senate cited several reasons why it considers 2G in retail as an unsuitable measure to contain virus levels. There are too many exceptions – the vast majority of contacts take place in the grocery trade. The comparison with going to a restaurant or concert or with sport is also not beneficial. In one store, customers stayed shorter because they were less physically active.
“In addition, dying customers, as in many other everyday situations, could also be required in retail to wear an FFP2 mask,” wrote the court. If the shops controlled the correct wearing of these masks, this would “reduce the risk of infection to such an extent that it can almost be neglected”.
Instead, 2G brings strict restrictions on fundamental rights for unvaccinated customers and shopkeepers. In the combination of a controllable infection process, a low effect on infection protection and encroachments on fundamental rights, 2G is “currently inadequate” in the retail sector.
The state government announces a reaction to the OVG decision. The opposition FDP welcomed the verdict. “The retail trade is demonstrably not a driver of infection,” said parliamentary group leader Stefan Birkner. “The state government will only increase the vaccination pressure and carry it out on the back of the retail trade.” After several defeats in court, the government must finally learn to give better legal reasons for its measures. “Interferences with fundamental rights are only permitted if they are absolutely necessary to protect against infection.”
In mid-December, the OVG had already overturned the 2G-plus rule for visits to the hairdresser, foot care or other body-related services. At the end of November, the court ruled that the country’s Corona ordinances had always been based on a suitable legal basis. But individual measures were exaggerated, for example the closure of car washes in spring 2020.
With the OVG decision, revenge once again “that the state government has haste before diligence as the top priority,” said the Green parliamentary group leader Julia Willie Hamburg. The government must now quickly submit a new regulation that has been drawn up with more care, “so that there is no regulation-free area here”. The decision of the OVG is final.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211216-99-410836 / 5