Administrative Court of Stuttgart: cancelation of an event due to coronavirus is lawful
Facts of the case
The company's summary petition sought relief from an administrative act adopted by the City of Wertheim prohibiting a "late-night shopping" event on 14 March 2020, which involved 3 hours of late-night shopping in an outdoor pedestrian zone. The prohibition order was issued on the day of the event, and the petitioner questioned the effectiveness of the prohibition given the fact that the event was cancelled at short notice, after many customers had already arrived.
Content of the decision
In the end, the petition was denied. The legal basis for the relevant prohibition is § 28(1) Sentence 1 of the Protection against Infection Act, which requires the competent authorities to take necessary protective measures whenever an illness or suspected illness or infection is found, to the extent necessary to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. If these conditions are met, the competent authority may restrict or prohibit events and other large gatherings pursuant to § 28(1) Sentence 2 of the Protection against Infection Act.
The court classifies the prohibition as a necessary protective measure in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It notes that the above statute expressly relates to prohibitions or restrictions of events and other large gatherings: a category which includes the late-night shopping event. It also points out that the statute is not limited to indoor events, but rather includes outdoor events as well.
Given the high risk of infection and the fact that a large number of visitors are expected from over a large area, the court deems it highly likely that an infected person could be among the visitors. The court therefore finds that a high danger of infection may be assumed, even within a relatively short time span. The court also finds that the short notice given by the cancelation does not alter the fact that foot traffic in the shopping center will be diminished. Responding to the petitioner's argument that the measure taken by the respondent to contain the coronavirus pandemic is outside the bounds of typical administrative practice in Baden-Württemberg, the court points out that "late-night shopping" is a special limited-time event which attracts a large number of customers, and is to be distinguished from conventional retail, which was continuing without restrictions at the time of the order.
In other words, the cancelation of events is justified at the present time for the protection of public health regardless of whether those events are held indoors or outdoors. Any companies which are planning events would be well-advised to postpone them for the time being in order to avoid costs and expenses.