Dutch curfew to remain in effect for at least a week while court considers verdict
The Dutch public will have to continue to adhere to the country's mandatory curfew at least through the early morning hours of February 26 while the Court of Appeals in The Hague considers a challenge to the restriction. The first curfew in the Netherlands since World War II has been in effect for nearly a month, and was implemented as part of a strategy to hinder the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The caretaker Cabinet won the approval of Parliament to implement the measure under an emergency powers law. Its use was challenged by Viruswaarheid, a group which does not believe the need for social restrictions exists. A Temporary Relief Judge threw out the curfew in a ruling on Tuesday, saying the emergency law was meant to handle unexpected disasters, like spontaneous flooding.
His ruling was overruled later that evening by the three-judge panel which presided over a full hearing on the case on Friday. After arguments were presented on behalf of the government and Viruswaarheid during the latest session, the chair of the panel, Marie-Anne Tan-de Sonnaville, said that it was not possible to issue a considered ruling on the same day, as she had hoped.
A ruling was scheduled to be issued in writing on Friday at 10 a.m. "We want to be able to think about it calmly," Tan-de Sonnaville said. Should either side wish to challenge the appellate court ruling within eight weeks of the decision, the country's Supreme Court will hear the case.
While the court considered the case, the country's senators were holding a debate on an emergency law that would close the loophole identified by the Temporary Relief Judge and grand the Cabinet the power to enforce a curfew as part of the pandemic response. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament, voted in favor of the bill on Thursday.
A majority of senators in the Eerste Kamer, the upper house, were expected to vote in favor of the legislation, which would allow the coronavirus curfew to continue regardless of the appellate ruling.
The curfew starts at 9 p.m. nightly and ends at 4:30 a.m. the following day. Though earlier this month the outgoing prime minister, Mark Rutte, said the Cabinet was re-evaluating the measure, he later said that at no point has the Cabinet considered prematurely ending the rule before its initial planned expiration on March 3.