Austria's corona legislation unconstitutional

Austria's Constitutional Court has ruled that a substantial part of the legislation passed by the government in Vienna in the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic was unconstitutional, including a ban on entering public spaces and a regulation stipulating that only shops with a surface area of less than 400 square metres were allowed to remain open. The country's press complains that Vienna has shown blatant disregard for the country's laws.

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Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Ignorant and tactically unwise

The decision was to be expected, writes the Wiener Zeitung:

“A disgrace that could have been avoided. Because of course the corona lockdown had to be done quickly, so it's entirely understandable that mistakes and inaccuracies occurred. But the problem is that in the weeks that followed the government refused to discuss and eliminate these errors and inaccuracies. Legal experts clearly pointed out the deficiencies in the legislation. But at best they were ignored. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) dismissed the criticism of the legislation as 'legal quibbling'. He tersely pointed out that once the Constitutional Court passed its ruling the measures would no longer be in force anyway. ... This behaviour hardly inspired trust. ... If there is a second wave bringing new restrictions, will the population be so obedient this time round?”

Der Standard (AT) /

Threshold for abuse lowered

Der Standard believes the government's assurances that there were no ulterior motives behind the illegal laws, but stresses that all care must be taken not to undermine the constitution:

“At least one of the two ruling parties is quite used to such setbacks. The Constitutional Court judges have overturned other legal masterpieces put forward under ÖVP chancellorship - such as the reform of the minimum income. ... The government politicians should accept these latest decisions with humility and take advantage of opportunities to compensate for the penalties paid. ... The constitution is not just a pastime for legal scholars but serves to protect fundamental rights. If it is treated carelessly, the threshold for further abuse will be lowered - so that it is abused out of cold calculation rather than just by accident.”