With the appeal looming, Dutch government makes final push to protect national curfew
Friday is a crucial day for the Dutch government and the national coronavirus curfew, as the cabinet hopes to pass a new emergency law and awaits the ruling from the court of appeal.
Dutch government pushing to protect coronavirus curfew
At an emergency appeal hearing on Tuesday evening, the court ruled to suspend the lifting of the curfew until an appeal hearing on Friday. Before the end of the day, the court of appeals will present its ruling on whether or not the curfew in its current state should be lifted.
In the meantime, the Dutch government is doing everything it can to pass the legislation necessary to protect the curfew from being lifted. In a court in The Hague on Tuesday morning, a judge ruled that the law used to introduce the curfew - the Extraordinary Powers of Civil Authority Act - was only applicable in times of special emergency.
However, because the government and the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) discussed the curfew extensively for many weeks before it was ultimately introduced, the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands could therefore not be classed as an emergency. Now, the cabinet has introduced a new emergency law to improve the legal basis for the curfew.
Following a debate on Thursday, the law received the support of the House, and today the cabinet hopes to receive the support of the Senate (Eerste Kamer). Therefore it is likely that, regardless of the outcome of the appeal hearing, the national curfew will remain in place until March 3. The government is set to discuss whether or not the curfew will be extended again next week.
Rutte sees little room for easing restrictions in March
Perhaps the effort that the cabinet is taking to protect the curfew suggests they aren’t planning on lifting it so soon. Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte has also said that, in spite of the mounting pressure on the government to finally relax some coronavirus restrictions, he himself sees little opportunity for relaxations on March 2.
After the debate in the House on Thursday, Rutte said, “It doesn’t look good... If I’m being honest, I am not optimistic.” He referred to the rising infection and hospitalisation rate - with 70 percent of infections now being caused by the B117 variant - saying models showed that a third wave was imminent, but that it would hit later than initially expected.
EDIT: On Friday afternoon, the chairman of the court of appeals announced more time was required to make a decision and that he would only present a ruling on February 26. The curfew will therefore remain in place until then.