Urgent appeal granted OVG prohibits Open Sunday during the run up to Christmas

Bonn · There will be no Open Sundays during Advent in NRW, which the state of NRW wanted to allow under the new Corona Protection Ordinance. This Tuesday, the Higher Administrative Court in Münster granted an urgent appeal by the Verdi trade union.

 Pedestrian zone in Bonn. Photo: Niklas Schröder

Pedestrian zone in Bonn. Photo: Niklas Schröder

Foto: Niklas Schröder

Shops in North Rhine-Westphalia must remain closed on Sundays before Christmas and on the Sunday after New Year's Day. On Tuesday, the Higher Administrative Court of Münster issued an emergency order prohibiting the five Sundays on which shops are open for business as provided for by the regional government. With this regulation, the state government wanted to equalise shopping during Advent and avoid an "unregulated rush of customers" during the pandemic - and had stipulated the state-wide possibility of opening in the Corona Protection Ordinance. The Verdi trade union took urgent action against this.

The chamber responsible for infection protection law at the Higher Administrative Court of Münster now ruled in favour of the plaintiff: the judges expressed "considerable doubts about the suitability of Sunday opening to reduce the risk of infection", a statement said. It could not be assumed that the volume of customers on Saturdays would be spread over Sundays. It also seemed obvious that the lack of leisure facilities would encourage additional customers to come to the city centres. This is in contradiction with the Infection Protection Act. Furthermore, a nationwide regulation was not legally allowed, as it could be assumed that the rush would remain manageable, especially in rural areas.

According to the City-Marketing Association, it remains to be clarified whether the decision will also affect so-called "open for business" Sundays that have been planned for a long time, such as the open for business Sunday on 13 December in Bonn as part of a print rally.

The judges' rush decision is already preceded by numerous similar decisions and rulings concerning Sunday openings: In recent years, Verdi has repeatedly and successfully taken action against local authorities which, in their view, undermined the statutory protection of Sundays. After the closure of many shops in spring due to the corona, the Ministry of Economic Affairs issued a decree in the summer to start a new attempt to increase the number of Sundays open for sales - this should enable the retail trade to make up for the lost sales. However, the OVG had overturned a series of plans by the municipalities following complaints from Verdi.

Original text: Lisa Inhoffen, with material from dpa. Translation: Mareike Graepel

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