In the district office in Rosenheim, for example, the in-house lawyers had already warned against imposing such corona fines. No fines were imposed in the Rosenheim area until the end of March 2020 for simply leaving one’s own apartment without a “valid reason”, as requested by the state government three years ago – “for reasons of legal security”, as a simple general decree was not enough for the district office. From April 1, 2020, fines were due there as well as in the entire Free State, based on the Bavarian Infection Protection Ordinance. Anyone who had to pay such a fine at the time can now ask for the money back. But fierce political arguments have now broken out over the details.
The fact that citizens can reclaim certain corona fines at all is the result of a defeat by the Bavarian state government before the Federal Administrative Court. Specifically, it is about exactly these rules in the Free State, which were in force through the regulation in spring 2020. The federal court in Leipzig had decided that the exit restriction at the time – i.e. the ban on leaving the apartment without a good reason – was incompatible with the principle of proportionality. It thus confirmed the Bavarian Administrative Court.
At that time, other federal states, for example, only imposed contact restrictions outside of their own household. Bavaria, on the other hand, only allowed going out for certain reasons such as work, shopping, outdoor sports or walking the dog. At the time, it caused a lot of excitement and debate that just sitting on a park bench to read a book was not allowed.
Those affected – probably a few thousand across the country – can now apply to the authorities responsible at the time for the repayment of the fines that were wrongly demanded. Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) promised “unbureaucratic” processing. If the fine was imposed by notice, the district governments decide on refunds, applications can be made to the district authorities. If the fine was imposed by a court, the judicial authorities have jurisdiction. Refunds are available in cases related to leaving home and being outdoors, and only if the violation occurred between April 1 and April 19, 2020; in fact, this is not the full lockdown period. Anyone who had to pay a fine at the end of March or for other reasons cannot apply.
In the district of Mühldorf, for example, there are 244 cases
Many district and city administrations cannot say exactly how many people all of this affects. For the district of Mühldorf, for example, there are figures, according to the district office, there are fines from exactly 244 procedures that can now be reclaimed by specifying the file number and bank details. This would be a good tenth of all Mühldorf fine proceedings for corona violations.
At the state level there is disagreement about the repayments anyway. Bavaria’s citizens would have to “get back unjustly levied fines immediately and unbureaucratically” during the curfew, the government should “not hide behind legal sophistry here,” said SPD legal expert Horst Arnold. The restriction to certain cases in the spring weeks in question disregards the highest court rulings. This is evidence of “arrogance and presumption”. To this end, the SPD has submitted an emergency motion, which was scheduled for debate in the state parliament for late Wednesday evening.
Health Minister Holetschek thinks reimbursement for so-called corona parties is wrong
Health Minister Klaus Holetschek then called the SPD’s choice of words “wrong in substance and outrageous in the choice of words”. The court expressly did not rule that exit restrictions were generally inadmissible to combat a pandemic. According to Holetschek, it would send the wrong signal to pay back fines if someone celebrated so-called corona parties and thus endangered people. In the few individual cases of fines from March 2020, an individual assessment could be considered. SPD man Arnold also called the exit restrictions “unavoidable” at the time and referred to “corona parties and lack of discipline”. The SPD is now apparently only concerned with “attacking the state government for electoral populist reasons”.
The minister recently had a reprimand ready for the free voters. Its Secretary General Susann Enders had also complained that the repayment limits were too narrow. Holetschek asked Enders to be more objective. The assertion that there is “great reluctance” at the ministry is wrong. Enders had already aroused displeasure within the government a few months ago when she demanded that the CSU and FW apologize for wrong Corona decisions.
When asked by the SZ, Head of State Florian Herrmann (CSU) recently rejected the fact that a commission or other formats were needed to process the policy measures. The measures in the three years were always carried out depending on the situation. This was “also a learning process”. “Despite all annoyance about one or the other measure”, the people in Bavaria followed the strategy of saving human lives with reason.
The Infection Protection Ordinance, which was finally abolished three weeks ago, has been in 17 editions with 87 changes throughout the pandemic, i.e. more than 100 different versions in total. Almost 240,000 administrative offense proceedings were initiated because of violations, as the state government announced at the beginning of the year in response to a request from the AfD. In total, the fine adds up to almost 40 million euros. In the now controversial weeks in spring 2020, there were 22,000 fines throughout Bavaria, which, however, did not only relate to leaving the apartment.
As far as that is concerned, the excitement is not everywhere as great as in state politics. In Würzburg, for example, the amount of fines for the period in question is not particularly high, according to the city administration. The city cannot say exactly how many violations were punished in the April days relevant for refunds because no breakdown by date is possible. More precise information is available regarding the requests for repayment: two have been received so far. The amount of the fine is 150 euros in each case. In the independent city of Rosenheim, a total of 320 fines were issued from April 1 to 19, 2020 due to various corona violations, for four of which there have so far been applications for reimbursement. According to the district office, there are twelve in the surrounding district.