Wednesday 21 April 2021

Keep to the curfew, prime minister urges, as government launches an appeal

The clock on the Grote Kerk in Enschede. Photo: Depositphotos

Prime minister Mark Rutte has appealed to the Dutch to stick to the 9pm curfew, while the legal situation is clarified.

Judges in The Hague ruled on Tuesday morning that the curfew must be lifted immediately because of its impact on personal freedom. The case was brought by anti-coronavirus campaign group Viruswaarheid, which has instigated a string of court cases against government policy since the pandemic began.

‘We remain extremely concerned about the ‘English’ variant and the curfew was introduced to make sure that the infection rate does not go up again,’ Rutte said. ‘We really need the curfew’.

‘If the legal basis for the curfew is wrong, that does not mean we don’t need one,’ Rutte told reporters at a hastily arranged press conference. ‘The curfew is a means to an end, and that is to keep the virus under control as much as possible.’

The cabinet is now working on additional emergency legislation to enshrine the curfew in law, but justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told reporters that he hopes the appeal will be sufficient.

In addition, there will be an emergency hearing later today to decide if the curfew should remain in place pending the appeal. The formal appeal will be heard on Friday.

Far reaching

Judges in The Hague ruled that a curfew has such a far-reaching impact on the right to free movement and on privacy that it requires ‘extremely careful decision making’.

The court also said that parliament should have been consulted because there was no ‘special urgency’ – such as a breach of the dykes – to introduce the curfew when it did.

The curfew from 9pm to 4.30am was introduced in mid January and extended earlier this month until the morning of March 3.

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