Monday, March 1, 2021

Legal wrangle over on-again-off-again Dutch Covid curfew

The curfew, imposed in January, led to rioting in several Dutch cities.

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A court has told the Dutch government that an overnight curfew to reduce the spread of coronavirus should be lifted immediately, ruling that it breaches the right to free movement.

The court said the 9pm to 4.30am curfew was imposed by an emergency law when there was no “acute emergency”.

Later, a higher court ruled that the curfew could stay in place pending an appeal on Friday, reports the BBC.

The curfew, imposed in January, led to rioting in several Dutch cities. Police were patrolling streets near the Dutch parliament on Tuesday evening, but no unrest has been reported so far.

The earlier court ruling was a victory for campaign group Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) and a major setback for the government, which quickly asked for the decision to be suspended until an appeal was heard at the end of the week. An appeal court later granted that suspension.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte described the ruling against the curfew as a setback and urged people to continue to follow the restrictions, which he said were “simply necessary”.

The Dutch cabinet is urgently working on a new law to enforce the curfew, but that could take time.

Curfews have been widely used in Europe to restrict movement. France has had a nightly curfew from 6pm but has stopped short of imposing a third lockdown. Greece has also imposed curfews, as have Spain and Italy.

Over 600,000 people have received their first Covid-19 jab since vaccinations began in the Netherlands on Jan 6, and of those around one in four have had a second dose.

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