Netherlands COVID-19 curfew to continue after court ruling

An appeals court overturned a ruling ordering the government to lift the curfew in the Netherlands because it violated freedom of movement and assembly on Tuesday night.

A court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that the curfew should be stopped, leading to an immediate appeal from the government.

Later on Tuesday, a higher court suspended that judgment, meaning that the curfew will continue.

In the earlier ruling, the Hague court said that the “curfew is a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy and (indirectly) limits, among other things, the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration.”

The case was brought by a group protesting against the introduction of the curfew which is in effect from 9:00 pm to 4:30 am until March 2.

“We fight for the preservation of a democratic constitutional state in which our children still have the opportunity to develop themselves in freedom and to live a life with their own beliefs and opinions,” the group Virus Truth says on their website.

It is the first curfew in the country since World War II and provoked mass protests. It came into force on January 23 over concerns over the spread of the more transmissible UK variant. It was meant to expire on February 9 but the government announced last week that it was extended until March 3.

The special law on which the government relied to impose the curfew is intended for “very urgent and exceptional circumstances,” the court said on Tuesday.

“This act offers the cabinet the option of imposing a curfew in very urgent and exceptional circumstances, without first having to go through a legislative process – involving the Senate and the House of Representatives in advance,” the court said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte also urged people to continue to observe the curfew, stressing that it “is a means, not an end.”

“It is really very important that we limit our social contacts as much as possible because of the risk of transmission of the virus,” he added. “So please do that. Do it for yourself, but also for each other.”

As of February 9, the Netherlands had confirmed more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 and 14,412 deaths.