Dutch Parliament approves new coronavirus curfew law

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) — The Dutch Parliament approved hastily drawn-up legislation on Thursday underpinning the country’s coronavirus curfew after a judge ordered the measure scrapped earlier this week.

The legislation was debated by the senate yesterday — the same day that government lawyers go to court to appeal the order banning the 9pm-to-4.30am curfew.

If approved, the curfew will remain in place and the appeal court’s decision will be largely irrelevant.

Maarten Hijink of the opposition Socialist Party gave the legislation his backing, but told the government, “Do not take the support as an appreciation of the way this Cabinet made such an unbelievable mess of the judicial underpinning of the curfew.”

Populist Geert Wilders was among opposition lawmakers who do not support the legislation introduced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

“What an embarrassment for Prime Minister Rutte, and what a hammer blow for the credibility of the corona policies of his Cabinet in general and the curfew in particular,” said Wilders, who repeatedly described the measure as disproportionate. He demanded that fines meted out for breaches of the curfew be cancelled or repaid.

The curfew, which sparked rioting last month but is very broadly supported and followed, remains in force pending the outcome of the government’s appeal.

The government argues that the curfew became an urgent necessity because of the swift rise of new, more transmissible variants of the virus, particularly the one first discovered in Britain which already gained ground in the Netherlands.

De Waag on Nieuwmarkt Square, historically the eastern gateway to the city, is deserted during curfew in the centre of Amsterdam. PHOTO: AP