Should cafe managers be held responsible for its clientele not wearing masks when they get up from the table? Attorney Edévi Amegandji doesn't think so.
A café owner is appealing against a €1,250 fine imposed after customers left their table without wearing masks.
While there have been few restaurant and cafe owners filing an appeal against fines for non-compliance ofsanitary measures, some are deciding to do so.
One such case is the manager of a café located on Boulevard d'Avranches in Luxembourg City, whose case went to the administrative court on Friday morning. Represented by attorney Edévi Amegandji, the individual is challenging the fine.
“At the end of the afternoon, two customers seated on the terrace got up without masks to go to the toilets located inside the cafe," Amegandji said. "The police came by at that time and wrote up a report on the employee. The manager was not present." He insists that the employee had repeatedly urged customers to sit down or put on their masks while moving around.
“If one customer inflicts another with a stab wound, is the café sanctioned? No!" the attorney continued, pointing out the inconsistency in sanctioning the café or its manager for the behavior of its customers. Especially since the fine is aimed specifically at the manager, who was absent during the events.
"The law of 17 July makes it clear that the obligation to provide seats and to have customers eat at the table is incumbent on restaurant owners and drinking establishments," replied the government delegate. "The offense is committed by the legal person, regardless of the presence of the manager on site."
A procedural flaw could spare the cafe the fine--a dating error on the decision by the ministry of health. "But I also plead [about] the principle," adds Amegandji, calling for more proportionate controls. “This same café received another fine for the same facts, €4,000 for the repeat offense. Another customer was fined €750 in June because police saw a person come out of their café at 12:05 am. Café managers are under pressure and find it unfair.”
Moreover, the sanction mechanism is dissuasive, since offenders have just three days to challenge the sanction with the health ministry, and therefore find a lawyer at the court who can formulate their appeal.
The court will rule early next week.
This article originally appeared on Paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.