Dutch appeals court upholds legal basis for virus curfew

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch appeals court ruled Friday that the government was entitled to use an emergency law to underpin its coronavirus curfew. The ruling overturned a judge’s decision earlier this month that the government overstepped its legal powers.

In a clear victory for the government over a group called Viruswaarheid — Virustruth — that opposes the lockdown, the appeals court also said that the 9 p.m.-4:30 a.m. curfew introduced on Jan. 23 was a proportional measure to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

The outcome will have little effect on the government’s attempts to rein in the virus as it rushed fresh legislation through parliament to empower the curfew after a judge banned the measure, which sparked rioting when it was initially introduced.

The Hague Court of Appeal said in a statement announcing Friday’s decision that the curfew’s limitation of constitutional freedoms “is justified” to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

The leader of the group that launched the legal challenge to the curfew, Willem Engel, said the group will appeal the decision.

The ruling comes with public support declining in the lockdown-weary Netherlands for the government’s attempts to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed more than 15,500 people in the country and infected nearly 1.1 million.

Some bar owners have said they plan to open outdoor terraces next week in defiance of the lockdown. Bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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