Dutch coronavirus curfew upheld temporarily after legal setback

FILE PHOTO: People sit on terraces before they close following the new restrictions announced by the Dutch government, as the Netherlands battle to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amsterdam, Netherlands October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Appellate judges ruled on Tuesday that a night-time curfew would remain in place in the Netherlands pending a government appeal of a lower-court ruling that found the measure lacked a legal basis.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coronavirus policy was dealt a major blow earlier on Tuesday when a district court in The Hague said his government had failed to make clear why it was necessary to use emergency powers at this stage of the pandemic.

The government requested and was granted an injunction, or emergency order, in which the three-judge appellate panel in The Hague agreed to suspend that ruling and uphold the curfew pending the outcome of the appeal.

The decision said the interests of the state in fighting the virus “carry more weight” than those of the anti-lockdown group behind the lawsuit.

The appeal will be heard on Friday.

Rutte maintained that the curfew was needed to prevent a surge in infections of the now dominant and more infectious British variant of the virus in the Netherlands.

“I want to ask everyone in the country to keep to the curfew,” he said in reaction to the decision. “The good news is that the curfew will remain in place. It’s of importance because we’re facing the rise of the English virus. We’re very worried about it.”

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