Last Friday, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the government has no legislative basis for closing inside areas of restaurants. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch promised to examine the extraordinary measures. Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative Photo.
Czech Rep., May 27 (BD) – The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled last Friday that the restrictions on indoor areas of restaurants has no basis in either the Pandemic Act or the Public Health Protection Act. The court thus declared the restriction of the activities of catering services to be “manifestly illegal”. Former/incoming Health Minister Adam Vojtech has promised to examine the current measures closely in response to the ruling, describing the repeated annulments of measures by the courts as “not a good business card for the ministry.”
The complaint to the SAC was submitted by lawyer Adam Černý from the position of a customer who cannot use the services of restaurants, which allegedly impedes the customer’s social ties and leisure time. Restaurants or bars can currently open their gardens, but indoor areas remain closed. The measure is worded in such a way as to prohibit the presence of the public inside restaurants.
However, according to the decision, the Pandemic Act only permits restrictions to the activities of a commercial or production establishment, not establishments in which services are provided. The SAC thus ruled that catering services cannot be restricted in this way based on the pandemic law.
“Even if the court found legal support for subordinating catering establishments (and casinos) to commercial activities, it is clear that such an extraordinary measure would not have survived in the contested parts, as the defendant’s ban on public presence did not restrict such establishments, but they were closed on this basis,” said Judge Tomáš Langášek.
The government replaced the law earlier this week, but it is clear that the law has no basis in either the Pandemic Act or the Public Health Protection Act. Ondřej Dostál, an expert on health law for the Pirate Party, told Novinky.cz that this means restaurants should be able to open their indoor areas now, as any fines for breaching these restrictions could be defeated in court. Dostál added that the existing laws could however be used to justify regulations on the number of people at each table, or require a negative test for customers to enter.
At his swearing in as Health Minister on Wednesday, Vojtech promised to deal with the matter urgently. “I will look into the measure,” he said. “I will say openly that if the court repeals the government measures, pointing out that they are insufficiently justified in law, then this should change and I will want to address it.”