Estonian top court to publish decision on constitutionality of COVID-19 passport Monday

  • 2022-10-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN –The Supreme Court of Estonia on Monday will publish a decision in a case concerning the constitutionality of the coronavirus passport requirement that was valid during the COVID-19 epidemic.

In May and September last year, the government issued two orders based on the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The first of these introduced quarantine requirements for people who were sick or close contacts, and the second set restrictions on many activities taking place in public spaces -- such as catering establishments, sports clubs, spas and attendance of public events and meetings.

In both government orders, it was stipulated that adults with a so-called COVID-19 certificate or coronavirus passport, who have completed a course of vaccination, are equal to a vaccinated person or have recovered from the disease in the preceding 180 days, are exempt from the restrictions.

Altogether 52 people and three companies submitted complaints to the administrative court, in which it was found that the orders unconstitutionally limit their rights. The people who filed the complaint were united by the fact that they did not have coronavirus certificates. However, the companies involved in providing catering and driving lessons were of the opinion that the requirement for a coronavirus certificate and their obligation to check it limits the freedom of enterprise.

With a decision published on May 31 this year, the administrative court satisfied the complaints and requested the Supreme Court to declare the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act norms, which were the basis of the orders, unconstitutional.

According to the first-tier court, the norms were not precise and clear enough, nor did they define the limits of the executive power's activities. According to the administrative court, the serious restrictions on fundamental rights provided for in the orders should have been established by law, not by government legislation.

In the decision to be published on Monday, the Constitutional Review Chamber of the Supreme Court will assume a position on whether the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act norms that were the basis for establishing the coronavirus passport are in accordance with the Constitution or not.

The resolution of complaints in the so-called main court case and the constitutional review are taking place separately from each other. At the same time, the proceedings of the main case were stopped until the constitutionality of the provisions of the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act was determined in the Supreme Court, because their validity may affect the resolution of complaints.

It is usually possible to challenge a decision of the administrative court in the circuit court within 30 days, but in this case, the appeal period does not start from May 31, but from the publication of the Supreme Court's constitutional review decision.