Late night on Friday in the Netherlands, senators scrambled to retain a night-time curfew, effected since January to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. The move came despite a Hague court’s ruling earlier in the week to lift the curfew. An emergency bill brought by the government, and supported by various Opposition parties as well was passed by a 45-13 vote, extending the COVID-19 induced curfew till early March.
On January 23, 2021, the Netherlands had instituted a nightly curfew between 9 PM and 4:30 AM local time in a bid to restrict the movement of people, particularly young people at night in order to check the spread of COVID-19. Violators were fined 95 Euros or USD 115. This had led to widespread protests and even rioting in the European nation, that had last seen curfews back in the days of World War II. Rioting incidents were reported from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Amersfoort and Geleen. The curfew that was supposed to come to an end on February 9, was extended to March 3 by the government, eliciting even more opposition to the move.
A group called Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) took the matter to court. On its website, Viruswaarheid says, “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. These freedoms and fundamental rights have been increasingly compromised over the past decade.”
On Tuesday, a court in The Hague ruled that the curfew should be lifted as it “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.”
However, just hours later the Dutch government requested an emergency injunction order. An appellate panel of three judges then agreed to suspend the lower court’s ruling. Most parties in the Parliament supported the government’s new emergency bill to circumvent the court order to drop the curfew. On Friday, an appeals court said it would take a week to decide whether to overturn the ban on the curfew. But this decision was rendered meaningless later in the day when the emergency bill was debated in the Senate for several hours and passed.
*Feature image is a public domain image.