What do we see in Orbán’s laboratory? Prohibition of curfews and unconstitutional restrictions

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz would touch on the proven recipe, as tough measures will come into force next week, evoking the first wave of the epidemic. Almost all events are banned by the government, but theaters, museums, swimming pools and gyms are also closed. The restaurants can only accept deliveries and the hotels cannot accept guests. They also restrict visits to hospitals, social institutions, and senior students and college students transition to digital education. There are also curfews between eight in the evening and six in the morning – in connection with this, the mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, in an interview said the Christmas market could open no later than December.

The action of the Austrian government may also be interesting to us because Viktor Orbán referred to Austria in the spring as the laboratory of Hungarian epidemic management. In other words, if Chancellor Kurz’s decisions prove effective, perhaps the Hungarian government will decide on similar steps. This would be supported by statistics, as the two countries are in a similarly difficult position to fight the virus. In Austria, the coronavirus has nearly 110,000 infected and 1130 fatalities, and in Hungary the number of registered patients is close to 80,000, while 1819 lost their lives in the epidemic.

If the Hungarian government continues to look at our western neighbor as a laboratory, this time it is worth paying attention to the Austrian Constitutional Court (VfGH) as well. Friday in its decision for the Vienna Board also declared several pieces of legislation providing for epidemiological restrictions during the first wave unconstitutional.

They also repealed the current legislation, which required a minimum distance of one meter between tables in restaurants.

The decision of the Constitutional Court will not take effect until December 31, which is certainly related to the fact that Sebastian Kurz also announced on Saturday that the tightening that will take effect on Tuesday is expected to be eased in December. VfGH, however, was already in July he called the government that restrictive measures must be in line with constitutional rights.

Although the wording of the restrictions coming into force on Tuesday has been much more careful, experts telling the Austrian press say a number of pieces of legislation are still problematic. To GMX magazine statement lawyers have drawn attention to night curfew restrictions, as there are so many exceptions that the regulation becomes unenforceable in practice. Other measures, on the other hand, would indirectly regulate the private sector, which experts say could already violate fundamental rights.

Not only the Constitutional Court, but also the coalition partner is causing more and more headaches for the Chancellor. In January this year, the coalition government of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens was formed, with Rudolf Anschober at the head of the Ministry of Health. While the ÖVP Kurz and the Green Party Anschober always praise the oiled cooperation, the second wave makes the tension within the coalition more spectacular. About this on the Der Standard weekend wrote analysis, the former ÖVP communication adviser said that the real “PR disaster” was caused by the political chess game around the second wave. Gerhard W. Loub told the Vienna newspaper that he said Kurz wanted to announce curfew restrictions as early as Thursday, but at the last minute, Anschober drilled the announcement.

– said the Austrian communication expert. He added that Kurz was notoriously trying to put pressure on his health minister, but there were signs that the initiative had bounced off Anschober, who had strengthened during the epidemic.

(Cover image: Protesters against the measures of the Austrian government’s coronavirus epidemic in Vienna in front of the Hofburg Palace on October 31, 2020. Photo: Joe Klamar / AFP)

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