Covid Safe Ticket is legal, Wallonian court rules

Covid Safe Ticket is legal, Wallonian court rules
Credit: Belga

The Wallonian court of appeal has declared that the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is legal, overriding an initial verdict from a court in Namur that said it was illegal.

The court ruled on Friday that the CST is a necessary, objective and proportional instrument.

The CST was rolled out in Wallonia on 1 November 2021, requiring people to provide proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test, or a certificate of recovery in order to gain access to restaurants, bars and sports halls in the region.

‘A dangerous precedent’

The organisation Notre Bon Droit said the CST was setting “a dangerous precedent” when they first brought their case to court: “We see it as the advent of a health utopia, based on a vaccine lure, marking a point of no return towards an abnormality that must be rejected.”

They argued that the CST was illegal because it infringed on “the right to cultural and social development, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to privacy and personal data protection.”

Such infringements must always be justified by objectives in the interest of the public - in this case, public health objectives related to controlling the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. But Notre Bon Droit said this wasn’t the case with the CST.

“The restrictions on fundamental rights provided for by the Covid Safe Ticket are neither necessary nor adequate to achieve the possible public health objectives pursued by the Belgian State, are disproportionate and result in unjustified differences in treatment,” they argued.

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CST initially declared illegal

The criminal court in Namur agreed, declaring that the CST was in violation of European law and also breached the principle of proportionality, meaning the measure is not proportionate to the aim pursued.

The court demanded that the Walloon government revoke the CST and imposed penalty payments of €5,000 per day until it was done.

The Walloon government immediately appealed, and the CST remained applicable in the meantime. The Court of Appeal in Liège has now ruled in their favour and found the CST to be both legal and proportional.

Other cases are pending

The CST is also in use in Flanders and Brussels, but because it’s a regional competence, the French-speaking Notre Bon Droit had to file separate suits in Wallonia and in Brussels.

The case in Brussels is still ongoing, though the courts there aren’t yet taking action because they believe the Constitutional Court has the ultimate say, and lawsuits against the CST are currently pending before that court.

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