Europe

Supreme Court opens the door to Covid certificate for restaurants

The Supreme Court in Madrid has accepted an appeal by the Galicia government against a high court ruling in that region which had rejected making the Covid certificate a requirement for admission to certain leisure establishments, e.g. bars and restaurants.

On Tuesday, the decision by the Galicia High Court to prohibit the requirement was revoked, the Supreme Court finding that the benefit of such a requirement is “much higher” than the “sacrifice” entailed in presenting this documentation. The Covid certificate, in the Supreme Court’s view, is the “most appropriate” measure to safeguard “the life and health of citizens in these places”.

The Supreme Court had previously ruled against an Andalusia government requirement, but this was because insufficient justification was presented that would have allowed the court to give its authorisation. High courts in certain regions, such as the Canaries and Galicia, have vetoed the use of the certificate. But the Tuesday judgement now potentially opens the door to regional governments to introduce the requirement.

The ruling centres on three fundamental issues – discrimination, the right to privacy and protection of personal data. The court has decided that there is no discrimination against people who have not been double vaccinated in that admission can be granted to someone who presents a negative test or a certificate showing that they have had Covid.

The certificate does not violate the right to privacy, and in any event, this right cannot prevail over the right to life and the protection of public health. Personal data protection is not violated as information is only needed for entering an establishment. It is not then collected and processed.

In summing up, the Supreme Court believes that the Covid certificate measure is “necessary, suitable and proportionate” and that the violation of fundamental rights by the requirement of the certificate is “tenuous“.

In the Balearics, the government decided not to press ahead with making the certificate a requirement precisely because of court decisions in other regions and the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Andalusia appeal. While various sectors have expressed their doubts and unease about making the certificate a requirement, one – nightlife – has been in favour, as the certificate is seen as a means of reopening clubs. The Balearic government has been of a similar view.

The ruling in favour of the Galicia government will now surely bring the certificate requirement back to the table.

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