Restrictions for retailers: what happens next with the 2G rule?

Status: 17.12.2021 7:03 p.m.

For now, the 2G rule has been suspended in Lower Saxony’s businesses. But Health Minister Lauterbach is not thinking of lifting the requirement nationwide. The FDP, on the other hand, sees its criticism confirmed.

By Leonie Schwarzer, ARD capital studio

Christmas shopping – regardless of whether you have been vaccinated, recovered or unvaccinated: You can now do that in Lower Saxony. Because there the so-called 2G regulation for the retail trade was overturned by the Higher Administrative Court. SPD health minister Karl Lauterbach said he was not responsible for criticizing the courts. “Nevertheless, I would like to point out that it makes no epidemiological or health-political sense to overturn such a rule now. Especially in view of the wave of omicrons ahead of us.”

Dahmen for rework

Janosch Dahmen, health expert with the Greens, sees it similarly. Suspending the 2G regulation is dangerous in view of the Omikron variant, which is spreading. “We need the 2G regulation in addition to an intensified booster vaccination campaign in order to get through the coming weeks safely.” That is very obvious. It is common for the courts to review new laws – and improvements must now be made in Lower Saxony, according to Dahmen.

The Higher Administrative Court in Lüneburg had justified its decision, among other things, with the fact that it had not been proven to what extent the retail trade actually contributed to the infection process. In addition, the court also argued with the principle of equality: It is incomprehensible that, for example, flower shops should remain open to everyone, while hardware stores, on the other hand, fall under the 2G regulation.

Dürr: “Courts set stop signal”

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr thinks the verdict is understandable: “I also viewed 2G critically, that’s my personal opinion.” But the process shows that the rule of law works. “The courts then also set a stop signal if they have the impression that politics is overstretched.”

Above all, Dürr refers to the different situations in the countries. “The state governments have an instrument kit available.” They would have to look at what is sensibly efficient in their state and whether the measures are effective and legally secure. “And the situation in Bavaria is certainly different from that in northern Germany and so state governments must act accordingly.”

Luczak: “We also have other judgments”

It was not until the beginning of December that the federal and state governments jointly agreed on the 2G regulation in retail. Only in shops for daily needs – i.e. supermarkets, pharmacies or drugstores – should everyone still be able to shop without proof. So what does this ruling mean for the nationwide regulation?

At first nothing, said Marco Luczak from the CDU. “We also have other judgments from other countries that have upheld precisely such a regulation.” You have to look very carefully at what has actually been regulated. “For the time being, this has no significance nationwide, but you only have to know that it is specifically limited to the state of Lower Saxony.”

Urgent application was rejected

Lawsuits against the 2G regulation have also been filed in other countries. So far, however, there is no uniform line of the judges: In Schleswig-Holstein an urgent application was rejected, there 2G can continue to apply in retail.

The federal government refers to the ruling and is sticking to its previous position: they continue to consider 2G to be sensible in retail, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Reactions to the 2G ruling in Lower Saxony

Leonie Schwarzer, ARD Berlin, December 17, 2021 6:10 p.m.

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