Court orders end to Netherlands night curfew citing violations of freedoms

A Dutch court ordered the government on Tuesday to end the curfew it imposed last month to rein in the spread of coronavirus, saying the ruling coalition was not entitled to use emergency powers to enforce the restrictive measure.

In a written statement, The Hague District Court called the curfew a “far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy” that also indirectly curtails the rights of freedom of assembly and demonstration.

“This requires a very careful decision-making process,” the court ruled.

The government extended the 9:00 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. curfew into March last week. It used a law allowing it to bypass the usual legislative process in emergencies.

However, the court said the introduction of the curfew did not require the use of the fast-track process as it had been discussed at length during the coronavirus crisis.

The justice ministry said it was studying the ruling.

A group called Virus Truth that is deeply skeptical of the government’s approach to slowing the spread of the virus had asked the court to outlaw the curfew, which sparked rioting in the first days of its imposition but is widely adhered to by the vast majority of the country.

In a video interview tweeted by the group, its leader Willem Engel thanked the judge and said, “I’m happy that there is still such a thing as jurisprudence.”

Infections have for weeks been slowly declining in the Netherlands amid a tough lockdown. The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases declined over the past two weeks from 24.27 new cases per 100,000 people on February 1 to 20.36 new cases per 100,000 people on February 15.

The country has seen nearly 15,000 confirmed deaths in the pandemic.-AP

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