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Berlin Agency Fines ‘Sunday’ Store

August 2, 1999

BERLIN (AP) _ A Berlin department store that challenged Germany’s strict shopping laws by opening on Sunday drew tens of thousands of excited shoppers _ and a $27,000 fine.

The Berlin Office of Workers’ Protection said Monday it would fine Kaufhof, a large store on Alexanderplatz in eastern Berlin, that tried to get around the law by labeling everything sold as souvenirs. German laws that prevent businesses from opening on Sunday allow exceptions for those catering to tourists.

Store officials said they would appeal the fine.

About 50,000 shoppers flocked to the Kaufhof on Sunday, buying goods ranging from clothing to appliances labeled with stickers reading, ``Berlin Souvenir.″

The store will face a fine of up to $54,500 if it tries to open this Sunday, said Robert Rath, the worker protection agency’s spokesman. Officials may also order the store closed if it continues, he said.

Unions, churches and local government heads oppose the push for Sunday shopping, arguing that it is unnecessary and unfair to workers.

If Sunday becomes a day like all the others, ``then there will be no common time for families to be together with friends who are still at work,″ Margret Moenig-Raane, president of the Trade, Banking and Insurance Union, told Deutschlandradio Berlin.

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