AUSTRIA: Kurz plans no change in the COVID-19 bills

Article originally published in German on, 14 April 2020 – accessible here

When the extent of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy and the hotspot Ischgl became known, things had to change very quickly: The ÖVP-Green government did indeed react quickly and in the meantime brought three comprehensive legislative packages through parliament in a rush. But now more and more critical voices are being raised. But Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) does not want to fix possible errors in the laws.

It is essentially a general question of whether the approach chosen by the government was proportionate – or whether it restricted fundamental rights of citizens too much. Kurz drew attention on Tuesday with the statement that the government is not planning to make changes to the hastily adopted Covid 19 laws and regulations, which may not be in conformity with the constitution.

The Chancellor justified the fact that some legislative texts may be defective, as critics say, by saying that “we acted quickly”. And he justified the action by saying that it “worked well”.

The laws and regulations “are not permanent”. Until a review by the highest courts has taken place, “they will no longer be in force”, said Kurz. In any case, the lawyers of the Ministry of Health had made an effort to ensure that procedures comply with the constitution. “I ask for some leniency that this is an exceptional situation.”

Lawyers should not over-interpret questions in this area. The point is that the measures must be respected and “the republic functions”. “Whether everything is fine on the dot or not will be decided at the end of the day by the Constitutional Court.” At that point, however, the measures would no longer be in force anyway, the Chancellor said.

Read the full article in German here