Why are cigarettes sold at gas stations

Error in the Corona regulation : Petrol stations threaten the Berlin Senate with legal action

For many people they are a place of rescue at night and therefore even a myth: there is food, cigarettes or something sweet at petrol stations around the clock, and when all shops are closed, the night counter is still there. But in the corona pandemic, the Berlin Senate is also making life difficult for petrol stations.

After the successful lawsuits from innkeepers and local owners against the curfew, the petrol station operators are now threatening to go to court. You rebel against the requirements of the red-red-green Senate to contain the corona pandemic.

Tagesspiegel Background Traffic & Smart Mobility

E-mobility, transport policy and the mobility of the future: The briefing on transport and smart mobility. For decision-makers and experts from business, politics, associations, science and NGOs.

Free test now!

In a letter to Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) and Economic Senator Ramona Pop (Greens), the Association of the Garage and Gas Station Industry Berlin-Brandenburg warns of "excessive economic burdens that are not necessary for those affected to combat the corona pandemic".

In its letter on Friday, the association pointed out that the containment ordinance apparently resulted in an "unintentional mishap in the formulation".

Specifically, the Senate ordinance stipulates that petrol stations may offer “spare parts for vehicles, insofar as they are necessary to maintain or restore operational readiness, as well as operating materials” during the blocking period from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The sale of alcohol is prohibited in all shops, restaurants, bars and petrol stations during this time.

[If you want to have all the latest news live on your mobile phone, we recommend our completely redesigned app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

The petrol station association is now criticizing the fact that according to the Berlin Store Opening Act, petrol stations are allowed to sell travel supplies around the clock - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These include newspapers, magazines, writing materials, tobacco products, toiletries, needs for first-aid kits as well as food and luxury goods in small quantities.

But according to the Senate's anti-corona ordinance, petrol stations can no longer sell these travel accessories between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The association doubts that this was intended.

Because it was communicated to the trade associations of the economy, including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) Berlin, that petrol stations are only not allowed to sell alcohol during the blocking period - but travel needs are. This is what the IHK assumed, as can be seen from internal letters.

The petrol station association is now complaining that the operators are already subject to and comply with strict hygiene requirements. "Selling travel supplies at petrol stations during the night is not a health problem, as there are not many customers in the petrol station shop at the same time, masks are required and the distance regulation of at least 1.5 meters is strictly observed," the association writes to the Senators.

According to the association, the consequences of the sales ban are serious for the operators. The sale of travel supplies is "of the utmost importance for the petrol station tenants, since they are economically dependent on it".

Operators could not make a living from selling fuel alone. Numerous customers are also urgently “dependent on this emergency supply”.

[Keep track of things: Corona in your neighborhood. In our Tagesspiegel district newsletters, we report on the crisis and the effects on your district. Free and compact: people.tagesspiegel.de]

From the point of view of the association, this affects commuters, as well as employees of the police and fire brigade as well as doctors and medical staff. The petrol station association therefore warns: "In our view, a ban on the sale of travel supplies would be disproportionate and therefore illegal".

And the association threatens to take action before the administrative court: "If the regulation is not improved at this point, we would have to recommend our members to take action against them (...)". The managing director of the association, Viviane von Aretin, writes that petrol station operators would be even more successful before the administrative court than the innkeepers and local operators.

Instead of a judicial dispute, the association is now relying on the Senate's insight. Because the regulation can easily be changed and adapted. Only the word “travel needs” would have to be introduced in the relevant passage.

However, there are some doubts about the actions of the Senate. Business, courts and lawyers are increasingly irritated by his approach.

A week and a half ago, the Senate suffered a severe defeat before the administrative court. That had initially lifted curfew for eleven, in the meantime for other pubs and bars the curfew from eleven o'clock. Further lawsuits from local operators are received.

Courts and lawyers are confused: When does the Senate send its statement of grounds?

Health Senator Kalayci appealed against the administrative court's first decision to the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court (OVG). But lawyer Niko Härting, who represents some of the plaintiff innkeepers and bar operators, has still not received any justification from the health administration for their complaint.

A lawyer dealing with the matter told Tagesspiegel: "It is a scandal that the Senate Administration takes so much time on such an important issue in the corona pandemic and that the Higher Administrative Court cannot decide."

These are the corona rules that you need to know in Berlin

  • Contact restrictions for private meetings
  • Closing time and serving of alcohol in restaurants
  • Mask compulsory wherever it is busy
  • Restrictions on celebrations, events and demonstrations
  • What is allowed, what is forbidden: An overview of the Corona rules.

The administrative court had found with all hosts that it was not evident that the curfew was necessary for a significant fight against the infection process in the corona pandemic. The hosts have already taken various protective and hygienic measures. In addition, according to previous knowledge, bars and restaurants are not the drivers of the pandemic.

It is therefore not understandable why it should be justified to close catering establishments after 11 p.m. There is also no risk of "disinhibition" under the influence of alcohol after 11 p.m.

The judges decided that the innkeepers could not be generally assumed to not comply with these requirements. It is not enough to justify the fact that compliance with the requirements can be checked more easily through a curfew. In any case, the ban on serving alcohol continues to apply after 11 p.m.

Now new: We give you Tagesspiegel Plus for free for 30 days! To home page