Coronavirus in the Netherlands: Prime Minister announces extension of curfew

The Dutch government announced on Tuesday an extension until March 15 of the curfew in the Netherlands, a measure aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus and which had led to violent riots when it entered into force at the end of January.

The government will announce on March 8 whether the curfew will be extended again beyond the morning of March 15, which corresponds to the first day of the next parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference.

Effective from 9:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., the curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War II, had already been extended for the first time until March 2.

“For now, we are still in an incredibly difficult phase”, Rutte explained, adding that a third wave is “inevitable” according to experts.

The government has however announced a slight relaxation of certain measures in place, including the reopening of hairdressing salons.

The closure of bars, cafes and restaurants remains in effect. The so-called non-essential stores, also closed, will however now be accessible by appointment, with a limited number of customers.

The management of the pandemic by the government, which resigned in mid-January following a scandal of family allowances and is now taking care of ongoing affairs, is increasingly under scrutiny as the elections approach.

These will be spread over three days this year, until March 17, in order to minimize health risks. The polling stations are open until 9:00 p.m. in normal times.

The introduction of the curfew at the end of January led to three days of serious riots across the country, the worst the Netherlands has seen in decades, resulting in the arrest of more than 400 people.

The curfew also found itself at the heart of a legal battle last week, when a lower court ordered its immediate lifting, saying the government had abused the special law on which it relied. to impose the measure. This decision was immediately suspended pending an appeal judgment, which will be delivered on Friday.

The government has meanwhile passed a new law to ensure the curfew continues even if it loses on appeal, in a case launched by Viruswaarheid (“Truth About Virus”), a group opposed to health restrictions .

The largest Dutch catering organization also said on Monday to file a complaint against the government in an attempt to force the reopening of bars and restaurants, which have been closed since mid-October.

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