Dutch government’s new coronavirus curfew law officially in effect
The government’s national coronavirus curfew was under threat last week, but a new temporary act that falls under the existing emergency coronavirus law came into effect on Monday, securing the enforcement of the measure.
Dutch government's new coronavirus curfew law
Last week, the Dutch government faced a real battle to protect their controversial national curfew. After a court in The Hague ruled that the curfew was unlawful and should therefore be lifted immediately, the state appealed the ruling and called for an emergency hearing on Tuesday evening - where the court ruled in favour of the state, saying the curfew would remain in place until the appeal hearing.
The cabinet then pushed to pass a new emergency law which would mean that the curfew was valid and could continue to be enforced, regardless of the court’s ruling. On Thursday, the law received the support of the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) and on Friday evening, it was approved by the Senate (Eerste Kamer).
Curfew appeal could have significant impact on fines issued
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus had initially said the national curfew would be implemented under the new emergency law from February 20, but in reality, the law came into effect two days later on February 22. This delay could have significant consequences for any curfew violation fines handed out over the weekend.
The government still awaits the ruling from the court of appeals in regards to whether the initial law used to introduce the curfew was legitimate or not. This ruling is expected on Friday, and should the court determine that the introduction of the curfew was unlawful, anyone who was issued a 95-euro fine over the weekend - or since the introduction of the curfew on January 23 - could see their fine dropped. Over the last month, over 33.000 fines have been issued.
Should the court rule in favour of Viruswaarheid, Grapperhaus will sit down with the Public Prosecution Service to determine what will happen with the fines already issued. If the court rules in favour of the state, nothing will change.
Coronavirus press conference on Tuesday
Under this new law, the curfew will remain in place until 4.30am on March 3. At the press conference on Tuesday, the government is expected to announce that the curfew will be extended by a further three weeks.
Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are also expected to announce a handful of relaxations which could see secondary schools and hairdressers reopen next week. Recently, the government has faced mounting pressure to relax restrictions but experts still fear a third COVID-19 wave is imminent.