Quarantine regulation tilted: A German travel returnee from Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia has filed a complaint against the quarantine obligation when returning from a corona risk area and was granted justice before the Higher Administrative Court in Münster. The decision is not contestable. His argument: since the value of new infections within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants in his vacation resort was lower than in his home town of Bielefeld, he could not be categorized as suspected of infection across the board. As a result, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia immediately overruled the previously valid quarantine regulations. Does this ruling also have a signal effect for Austria?
No greater risk of infection with comparable incidence values
The Higher Administrative Court of Münster wrote literally in its reasons for the ruling: “The risk of infection posed by returnees is no different in comparable incidence rates than if they had stayed at home”. It further states that the contested regulations, i.e. domestic quarantine after returning from a risk area, are disproportionate in this case. The corresponding file number at the OVG Münster is: 13 B 1770/20.NE. Here the press release of the Higher Administrative Court of Münster.
Ministry suspends quarantine regulation
And a spokeswoman for the ministry immediately declared on Friday at the request of the German Press Agency: “Since the OVG has expressed major reservations about the central quarantine regulations of the ordinance and has overruled them, the entire ordinance is no longer applicable with immediate effect. A corresponding notification to the local authorities was made immediately.
Legal dysfunction for the legislator
A legal “gossip” against the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as the publisher of the regulation, which could now set a precedent, because similar cases are known in other German states, which still have to be decided. The court took the quite understandable view that the state had not taken sufficient account of the fact that travelers returning home from countries with lower infection rates than at their place of residence are exposed to a higher risk of infection after returning home. Therefore, quarantine is currently not a suitable means of containing the corona pandemic in Germany, the court announced on Friday, 20.11.2020.
Spain vacationer sued at the Higher Administrative Court of Münster
But what exactly had happened? The plaintiff, who comes from Bielefeld, spent his vacation on Ibiza until November 13, and then traveled on to Tenerife. On November 22, i.e. the following Sunday, he plans his return trip to Germany. According to the regulations in force up to now in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, he would have had to go into domestic quarantine. Apparently still at his vacation resort, he hired a lawyer to look after his interests and was successful.
Tourism associations view decision positively
Speakers from politics and tourism associations welcomed the decision, whose effects on the entire tourism industry were assessed as positive throughout. In general, this decision represents a turning point in the practice of enforcing blanket quarantine orders in Germany. It remains to be seen what reactions this decision by the OVG Münster will trigger.
A signal effect also for Austria?
In Austria, too, there have been repeated cases in the past in which Austrian citizens, especially the inhabitants of the city of Vienna, but also of other cities and municipalities with high incidence values, had to go into quarantine on their return from regions in Croatia, even though the incidence values were lower in their vacation region than in their home town. Perhaps this final judgement causes a rethinking of the Austrian government.
Austria: Quarantine senseless!
Just for better understanding: according to the EU, the 14-day incidence of Austria on 20.11.2020 was 1081.2, of Croatia 845.5, of Slovenia 958.2, of Italy 801.3. According to the logic of the German Higher Administrative Court, the risk of infection for Austrians in the Adriatic countries would be significantly lower than at home in Austria, so the quarantine regulation for travel returnees makes no sense.