A Dutch court has ruled to end a government-imposed covid-curfew, calling the restriction a “far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy”, and arguing that it curtailed Dutch citizens’ rights to demonstrate and freely assemble.
The court said in a statement that “the curfew must be lifted immediately” and claimed that through the curfew the government had abused its emergency powers.
The curfew in question was the first one implemented since World War 2 in the Netherlands, and forbade any citizen from leaving their home between the hours of 9:30pm and 4:30am. It was introduced in an effort to combat the UK variant of covid, and was originally only intended to run until February 9th, but was extended by the government until March 3rd. In recent weeks the curfew has provoked mass protests, some of which turned violent, with Dutch citizens demanding an end to the restriction.
Protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures in the Netherlands turned into riots in several cities on Sunday.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 25, 2021
The law on which the government based the curfew was intended for “very urgent and exceptional circumstances,” the court said – circumstances which they deemed had not been met.
“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 government has appealed the decision, hoping to have this ruling overturned, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte urging people to adhere to the curfew despite the court’s verdict.
“This is a means, not an end,” said Rutte.
“It is really very important that we limit our social contacts as much as possible because of the risk of transmission of the virus. So please do that. Do it for yourself, but also for each other.”
To date the Netherlands has confirmed 1 million cases of covid-19 and 14,843 deaths, out of a total population of 17.2 million.