Germany: Court skips alcohol ban in Munich

The City of Munich, often dubbed as Germany's beer capital, will no longer prohibit selling alcohol after 9:00 pm and consuming alcohol in public after 11:00 pm if the number of infections with the coronavirus should again exceed the critical value of 35 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants. The Bavarian state capital lost in the second instance against a 35-year-old attorney who had brought an action against the regulation from last Thursday. The city wanted to stop public drinking in the evening because officials feared a further spread of the corona virus.

Many other cities in Germany followed the example of Munich and issued bans on alcohol sales over the weekend.

Drinking alcohol in public spaces is not forbidden in Germany and especially after the very strict social distancing rules had been lifted in July and many Germans preferred not to spend their summer holidays abroad, people gathered every evening in public spaces in the city to party and drink alcohol. Officials were suspicious of this behavior as crowds of people often disregarded the distancing rules and infection rates started to climb again.

The Bavarian Administrative Court justified the rejection of the order with the fact that the ban on alcohol consumption in public spaces could probably be based on the Infection Protection Act as a necessary protective measure. The court also acknowledged the fact that an alcohol ban is a suitable means of counteracting the spread of the coronavirus because it helps prevent crowds. The regulation of the general ruling, however, is not necessary and therefore disproportionate as long as it extends to the entire city area. Should the city council restrict the ban to certain areas within the city, the measure would be appropriate.

Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter commented the judgment: “It is now decided. The decision of the Bavarian Administrative Court gives the direction for our future rights to protect against infection. The previous general regulation […] is no longer implemented. Specifically, the bans can no longer be applied throughout the city, only at clearly named hotspots." It is expected that the city council will soon implement new rules which comply with the sentence of the Bavarian Administrative Court.

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