2023.01.24 16:27

Lithuania’s Covid restrictions on businesses were constitutional – top court

BNS 2023.01.24 16:27

The Lithuanian government’s restrictions on beauty and dental services during a coronavirus lockdown did not violate the Constitution, the country’s top court ruled on Tuesday.

Prevention and control of communicable diseases that threaten the health and lives of many people warrant urgent and effective measures, according to the Lithuanian Constitutional Court.

“The Constitution, therefore, allows establishing a legal framework under which measures envisaged by law for the control of communicable diseases in human beings may be further elaborated in sub-legislative acts, specifying, among other things, the extent and duration of the application of the specific measures,” it ruled.

Restrictions or bans on economic activities may also be imposed where there are grounds to believe that a situation threatening the health and lives of many people is imminent and that failure to take timely and effective measures will cause irreparable damage to human health and lives.

The court underlined, however, that the restrictions have to be temporary. Moreover, the government must constantly review the bans and restrictions in light of changing circumstances.

At the request of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court (LVAT), the Constitutional Court looked into the constitutionality of a resolution of the former government that imposed restrictions on beauty and dental services during the Covid-19 pandemic back in March 2020.

The LVAT referred the matter to the Constitutional Court after suspending an administrative case in which Aukštaitijos Implantologijos Klinika, a dental and beauty clinic, sought 34,000 euros in damages from the state for lost revenue.

The clinic maintained that such restrictions or bans on economic activities can only be imposed by law, rather than by a government resolution, which is a sub-legislative act.

A number of petitions challenging restrictions that were in place during the lockdown, such as Covid-19 immunity certificates or a ban on socialising between households, have been filed with the Constitutional Court.

The court has already issued rulings in several cases, stating, for example, that the requirement for employees to get tested for Covid-19 did not run counter to the Constitution and that the National Centre for Public Health had the right to impose restrictions on some constitutional rights during the coronavirus pandemic.