National coronavirus curfew to remain in place until Friday’s appeal
On Tuesday evening, a court in The Hague suspended the earlier decree that the national coronavirus curfew must be lifted with immediate effect. Instead, the curfew will remain in place until an appeal hearing on Friday, February 19.
Court suspends decision to immediately lift national coronavirus curfew
On Tuesday morning, a case brought to the court by the Viruswaarheid action group saw the judge rule that the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands did not constitute a special emergency, and so the law used to enforce the curfew was illegitimate. The judge stated the curfew should therefore be lifted with immediate effect.
In response to the ruling, the Dutch government appealed the decision, and requested to suspend the ruling and keep the curfew in place until the appeal had been heard. The government’s appeal proved successful, with the court deciding the interest of the state was greater than that of Viruswaarheid.
The court stated that, above all else, a yo-yo effect must be prevented, arguing it was better to keep the curfew in place for now, and then potentially lift it in a few days, than to lift it now only for it to be brought back again.
Viruswaarheid fighting against coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands
The court’s ruling was delayed after the Viruswaarheid’s legal team put forward a challenge against the court for bias, stating that it was unfair that the appeal had been rushed and that the team had not had sufficient time to put forward an argument. Lawyer Jeroen Pols also expressed frustration as the judge referred to Viruswaarheid as Viruswaanzin - the action group’s previous name.
Willem Engel - who has become the face and voice of Viruswaarheid - responded angrily to the ruling: "You are making a big mistake. This is unacceptable,” he said, before walking out of the court.
Cabinet pulling out all the stops to protect the curfew
With the appeal hearing scheduled for 10am on Friday, the cabinet is doing everything it can to protect the curfew. Should the appeal rule in favour of Viruswaarheid, the cabinet is hoping to introduce emergency legislation to allow for the temporary enforcement of a curfew.
The cabinet will submit the emergency legislation to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Wednesday. The Council of State has issued urgent advice to support the curfew, which means parliament can immediately discuss the proposed law.
The House is currently in recess ahead of the March elections but could be called back in order to debate the bill. The bill will have to have majority support in both the House and the Senate (Eerste Kamer), and while the support of the House seems inevitable, it is not yet known whether the Senate - where the outgoing cabinet no longer have the majority - will pass the emergency legislation.