Home Dutch News Dutch court upholds controversial virus curfew

Dutch court upholds controversial virus curfew

Published on February 26, 2021

A Dutch court Friday upheld an appeal by the government against a lower court’s order to scrap a controversial coronavirus curfew, saying the cabinet had not overstepped its brief.

Friday’s ruling against the case brought by the Covid-sceptic group Virus Truth has limited impact as parliament already pushed through a new law to support the curfew instituted on January 23.

The introduction of the curfew — the first since Nazi occupation during World War II — led to three days of severe rioting across the country in late January.

But police clamped down and hundreds of rioters were arrested. Many have already been sentenced by Dutch courts.

A lower court judge earlier this month said Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government overstepped its authority when it imposed the 9:00 pm to 4:30 am curfew based on a law that gives government emergency powers.

Such measures could only be used in sudden national emergencies such as a dyke breach, the lower court judge ruled.

However, the Hague Appeals Court on Friday said there were “indeed exceptional circumstances to make the introduction of the curfew possible.”

“The corona pandemic is sufficient reason for this,” the court said in a statement, adding government was relying on advice from scientific experts on its Outbreak Management Team.

Judges also found that the curfew was “proportional and that no other means were reasonable available. The situation was urgent,” the judges said.

“The (temporary and limited) violation of various fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of movement, is therefore justified,” the judges said.

Earlier this week Rutte announced that the measure would be extended until at least March 15, two days ahead of general elections in the country.

Cabinet will decide next week whether to further lengthen the curfew beyond March 15, as the country continues to battle the virus which has now killed some 15,400 and infected more than one million others.