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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

February 16, 2021
A woman, wearing a face mask to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, takes images of empty and moored canal cruise boats docked in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 4,   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong

(Euronews) - A court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that the current curfew in the Netherlands to stop the spread of COVID-19 should be lifted as it violates freedom of movement and assembly.
The government immediately appealed the decision with a hearing scheduled for later on Tuesday.

The court said in a statement that "the curfew must be lifted immediately" and that the government had abused its emergency powers.

"The curfew is a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy and (indirectly) limits, among other things, the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration," the court said in a statement posted to social media.

The case was brought by a group protesting against the introduction of the curfew which is in effect from 9:00 pm to 4:30 am until March 2.

"We fight for the preservation of a democratic constitutional state in which our children still have the opportunity to develop themselves in freedom and to live a life with their own beliefs and opinions," the group Virus Truth says on their website.

This is the first curfew in the country since World War II and provoked mass protests. It came into force on January 23 over concerns over the spread of the more transmissible UK variant. It was meant to expire on February 9 but the government announced last week that it was extended until March 3.

The special law on which the government relied to impose the curfew is intended for "very urgent and exceptional circumstances," the court said on Tuesday.

"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 court said.

A judge ruled that "the introduction of the curfew did not imply the particular urgency required" to be able to use the emergency law.

The government has however lodged an appeal to reverse the court's decision. Prime Minister Mark Rutte also urged people to continue to observe the curfew, stressing that it "is a means, not an end."

"It is really very important that we limit our social contacts as much as possible because of the risk of transmission of the virus," he added. "So please do that. Do it for yourself, but also for each other."

As of February 9, the Netherlands had confirmed more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 and 14,412 deaths.


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