German court rules local ban on public worship due to Covid ‘illegal’

Churches in the German city of Lage were unlawfully forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, a court has ruled.

In March 2021, the local government of the city in North Rhine-Westphalia banned all congregations from meeting for public worship following a coronavirus outbreak in one church.

At the time, a legal challenge from the Bible Congregation Lage was rejected. But the administrative court in Minden has now upheld its case, ruling that the blanket ban was “disproportional” and violated freedom of religion.

‘Important victory’

The court criticised the ban for not providing exceptions in the case of churches which introduced suitable measures for tackling the spread of coronavirus.

Peter Dridiger, Pastor of Bible Congregation Lage, called the ruling an “important victory”, which will aid churches in the future.

He reported that many congregations thought the ban was excessive at the time, but feared to resist it.


Last year, the Court of Session ruled that the Scottish Government’s ban on public worship during the pandemic was unlawful.

The regulations which required churches to close across mainland Scotland had been challenged by 27 church leaders, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who said the restrictions were a breach of their freedom of religion.

Court of Session judge Lord Braid agreed, ruling that the regulations “constitute a disproportionate interference” into people’s freedom to manifest their religious beliefs, and that they “went further than they were lawfully able to do”.

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