On 5 October 2023, the Supreme Administrative Court of Poland has claimed that quarantine must be imposed through administrative decisions justified by statutory law, being a measure which limits the constitutional rights of the citizens.

The case arose after the claimant was ordered by the Sanitary Inspector to undergo mandatory quarantine since he had come in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

On appeal by the claimant, the Voivodship Administrative Court in Bydgoszcz declared this decision void and ordered the Sanitary Inspector to reimburse the applicant’s expenses. The Sanitary Inspector opposed such a decision in front of the Supreme Administrative Court which, however, dismissed the appeal.

According to the Court, the core of the matter was determining whether the Sanitary Inspector could impose mandatory quarantine on the claimant.

First of all, the Court noted that Article 34(2) of the Act on the Prevention and Control of Infections and Infectious Diseases in Humans authorises the Sanitary Inspector to impose compulsory quarantine on persons who have been exposed to a contagious disease or have been in contact with a source of biological pathogenic agent and who do not show symptoms of the disease.

As mandatory quarantine interferes with fundamental civil rights and freedoms of individuals – namely the freedom of movement (Article 52 of the Polish Constitution) and the right to personal liberty (Article 5 of the Polish Constitution) – such a measure must be ordered by means of an administrative decision which determines the rights and obligations of the addresses. The administrative decision-making process constitutes, thus, a form of guarantee for the addressee.

At the same time, limitations to constitutional rights can be placed based on statutory laws only and only when necessary for public security and public order reasons. In this case, however, the Sanitary Inspector imposed mandatory quarantine in the form of a material-technical action, and not through an administrative decision, thus violating the constitutional rights of the addressee.

For these reasons, the Supreme Administrative Court considered that the first-instance court had rightfully declared the Sanitary Inspector’s order void.

Reference: judgment No. II GSK 1977/22.

Full text of the decision available at orzeczenia.nsa.gov.pl pl