The Dutch government’s COVID-19 policy suffered a major blow Tuesday when a judge ordered the curfew it imposed lifted immediately, saying the government misused its emergency powers. The government immediately appealed the ruling.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte imposed the curfew in January in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The curfew — which allows only people with a pressing need to be outdoors between 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. — was the nation’s first since World War II. It was scheduled to end February 9 but was extended last week until at least March 3.
The curfew spawned several days of sometimes violent protests when it was first implemented. A group that led several of those protests, Viruswaarheid (“Virus Truth”), brought the case that the court ruled on Tuesday.
At a news conference following the ruling, Rutte defended the curfew, saying it was designed to bring the virus under control. He said that while he wants people to have their freedoms, he wants them to be safe as well. He urged people to continue obeying the curfew whether the government’s appeal is successful or not.
The Associated Press reports a hearing held Tuesday to consider a government request to allow the curfew to continue, pending the appeal, was halted after a few minutes when a member of Viruswaarheid accused the presiding judge of bias. AP reports the full appeal will be considered on Friday.