Coronavirus: German court says keeping large stores closed is unconstitutional | News | DW | 27.04.2020
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Coronavirus: German court says keeping large stores closed is unconstitutional

A German state court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to keep large stores closed because of coronavirus while smaller ones have reopened. The judges, however, declined to put a stop to the practice.

Forcing large stores to remain closed to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus is unconstitutional, the top court in the German state of Bavaria ruled Monday, but with judges stopping short of voiding current restrictions in place. 

The judges of Bavaria's top administrative court found large retailers are receiving unfair treatment compared to small shops. Since last week, stores with a floor area of less than 800 square meters (8,600 square feet), have been allowed to reopen as part of a gradual lifting of restrictions to public life imposed in March to help contain the spread of coronavirus infections. 

Read moreNo coronavirus restrictions: Forests more popular than ever in Germany

The decision taken by the German government and the leaders of all 16 German states to allow only small stores to reopen violates the principal of equality as laid out in Germany's constitution, the Bavarian judges ruled in an emergency appeal by a retailer who had stores that partially exceeded 800 square meters in Bavaria, Berlin, and Hamburg. The ruling only applies to Bavaria. 

The court "exceptionally" chose not to annul the ban on large stores reopening, citing the coronavirus outbreak and the "short duration of the restrictions, which end May 3, 2020."

The plaintiff had argued that the closings threaten the existence of their business. 

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