Bar owner suing over long closure

17.02.2021 - 10:38
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 Mynd: Anton Brink - RÚV
A bar owner is suing the State in what his lawyer hopes will be a case that sets a precedent. Many bar owners are unhappy they were forced to close due to anti-COVID measures, while cafés and restaurants that also serve alcohol could stay open.

Going out for a drink is a popular pastime in Iceland, as in most countries, and this weekend illustrated that, as people took advantage of bars that had been closed for over four months until the start of last week.

Bar owners have been unhappy and struggling financially during the four-month closure this winter, and also two months shut last spring. The owner of English Pub and several other central Reykjavík establishments is now suing the Icelandic State; claiming the anti-contagion laws in place at the time did not permit the forced closure of bars and pubs. He is calling for compensation and hopes the case will set a new legal precedent. 

"Nowhere does it mention the ability to inhibit free enterprise or close down privately-run companies,” his lawyer, Auður Björg Jónsdóttir, says. 

Auður says the authorities failed to show moderation and disregarded the equality rule in the constitution, and in the laws on governance, when forcing bars to close. 

"A pub that is just a pub could not be open, but a pub that has a licence to sell coffee was allowed to be open. There is nothing that can justify this difference and there is nothing that says the pub owner is not in the same position to uphold the same anti-contagion rules as a traditional restaurant,” she adds. 

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