Information about applications received by the Constitutional Court and cases initiated in relation to COVID-19 restrictions (updated on 25 September 2023)
The Constitutional Court received 112 applications related to the COVID-19 restrictions between the declaration of the state of emergency in spring 2020 and 25 September 2023. 110 applications were constitutional complaints, of which 6 were collective applications. One application was received from a municipal council regarding the procedure for the government to grant loans to municipalities in times of emergency. One application was received from the Administrative Regional Court regarding the regulation of the Law “On Temporary Additional Requirements for the Work of Members of the Saeima and Members of Local Government Councils”, which prohibits a member of a local government council from exercising his/her powers unless an interoperable Covid-19 certificate is presented.
For four cases that were merged (No 2020-26-0106, 2020-27-01, 2020-32-01, and 2020-56-01), ruling was made in December. In the merged case No 2020-26-0106, the Constitutional Court ruled that the restrictions on in-person gambling put in place during the state of emergency were compatible with the Constitution, while restrictions on interactive gambling were not. The ruling is available here. A press release about the ruling is available here.A court video is available here.
In January this year, a decision was made to discontinue proceedings in the fifth case, No 2020-62-01, as the claim had already been covered in case No 2020-26-0106. The decision closing the case is available here. A press release about the decision to terminate the proceedings is available here.
On 24 March 2021, the Constitutional Court initiated a case concerning the requirement to undergo COVID-19 testing before entering Latvia. Case No 2021-10-03 On 18 February 2022, the Constitutional Court ruled to terminate the proceedings in Case No 2021-10-03, which was the second ruling adopted by the Constitutional Court in relation to the COVID-19 restrictions. The Constitutional Court concluded that, although the obligation set by the contested provision could have created a certain impediment for a person, as it woul prevent them from entering the country in the desired manner, it could not be regarded as an insurmountable obstacle: Latvia had not prohibited its citizens from entering and had not closed its borders. This no violation of the right prescribed in Sentence 2 of Article 98 of the Constitution was found. The decision to terminate the proceedings is available here. A press release about the decision to terminate the proceedings is available here. The judge’s video concerning the decision to terminate the proceedings is available here.
On 7 June 2022, the Constitutional Court initiated a case concerning a provision that restricted commercial activities in large shopping centres. Case No 2021-24-03.
On 29 June 2021, the Constitutional Court initiated another case concerning a provision that restricted commercial activities in large shopping centres. Case No 2021-29-03.
Case merged with Case No 2021-24-03.
On 6 September 2021, the Constitutional Court initiated another case concerning a provision that restricted commercial activities in large shopping centres. Case No 2021-37-03.
Case merged with Case No 2021-24-03.
On 10 March 2022, the Constitutional Court ruled in Case No 2021-24-03 (concerning a restriction on the operation of certain shops in shopping centres). The Constitutional Court ruled that the restrictions, in so far as they applied to a retailer whose shop is located on the premises of a large shopping centre and could be provided with a separate external entrance, was not covered by the exceptions set out in that provision, were unconstitutional. However, the restrictions, insofar as they applied to the owner of a large shopping centre, did not comply with Sentence 1 of Article 91 of the Constitution, but did comply with Sentences 1 and 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution. In order to facilitate a quicker and more comprehensive examination of the cases, the following three cases brought before the Court were merged: No 2021-24-03, 2021-29-03, and 2021-37-03.
The ruling is available here. A press release about the ruling is available here.
On 9 July 2021, the Constitutional Court initiated a case on provisions that required distance provision of education in schools even after the end of the state of emergency. Case No 2021-33-0103.
On 26 May 2022, the Constitutional Court ruled in Case No 2021-33-0103 on the provisions that requiring distance provision of education in schools even after the end of the state of emergency. The Constitutional Court ruled that the provision that defined the organising of the educational process during the spread of COVID-19 was compatible with the Constitution. The ruling is available here. A press release about the ruling is available here.
On 7 June 2022, the Constitutional Court initiated a case concerning the duty of Members of Parliament to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Case No 2022-20-01.
On 7 July 2022, the Constitutional Court initiated a case concerning a ban on the import of mink into Latvia. Case No 2022-28-03.
The panels of the Constitutional Court adopted decisions on 90 applications, refusing to initiate proceedings. Most of the applications were rejected because there was no substantiated claim that the measures taken to limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 had caused a violation of fundamental rights, and some because the matter fell within the competence of an administrative court. No application was refused due to insufficient legal grounds.
On pending applications
There are currently no applications related to the COVID-19 restrictions pending before the panels of the Constitutional Court.
On cases in the process of preparation and the prepared cases:
Two applications related to the COVID-19 restrictions have been prepared in the Constitutional Court. 1) Case No 2022-20-01 on the temporary additional requirement for Members of the Saeima and Councillors to present a vaccination or disease certificate (hearing date – 1 November 2023); 2) Case No 2022-28-03 on the prohibition to import mink from another country into Latvia (hearing date – 22 November 2023).
If a panel decides to initiate a case on the basis of the application, the information will be published on the website of the Constitutional Court and a press release will be issued.
The Constitutional Court received applications concerning the wearing of face masks, purchase of certified face masks, restrictions on assembly, impossibility of establishing a political party, granting of stoppage aid, restrictions on gambling, restrictions on the opening hours of food and beverage outlets, impossibility of the full exercise of municipal functions, restrictions on movement, dangers of attending schools, restrictions on religious activities, protection of the rights of persons with low income, definition of an emergency as such, restrictions on the sale of books, obligation not to disclose information about cases of infectious diseases, bans on entry into Latvia from abroad, restriction on the operation of certain types of shops in shopping centres and other similar restrictions, introduction of different rules for persons who recovered from COVID-19 and/or were vaccinated as compared to those not recovered from COVID-19, not vaccinated, and no intending to be vaccinated, rules requiring that the hearing of a case and the participation of a person in prison in the proceedings must primarily be by videoconference, government aid for companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis, vaccination or re-vaccination certificates required for work, including as a mandatory requirement for Members of Parliament, ban on the import of minks, the right to request examination of a civil case and criminal case in oral proceedings at least in one instance, and other similar restrictions.
The Constitutional Court’s process is available here.