Court overturns curfew in the Netherlands

A court in the Netherlands on Tuesday found in favour of the anti-lockdown campaign group Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) and ruled that the nighttime curfew imposed by the government was illegal. The group's leader argues that Covid-19 is no more dangerous than the flu and has drawn comparisons between coronavirus containment measures and the persecution of the Jews. The government is appealing the decision and its case will be heard on Friday. But for observers, its cause is already lost.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Rule breakers will feel vindicated

The government's negligence could have fatal consequences, NRC Handelsblad complains:

“The administrative judge also points to the flawed justification for the curfew. According to her the Virus Truth group asked the 'justified question' of whether an urgent call on citizens to stay indoors in the evenings would not have been sufficient. .. Those who doubt the wisdom of these - and perhaps other - measures will now feel vindicated and encouraged to stop following the rules and recommendations - despite the fact that the necessity of the measures still exists.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Measures must be watertight

Considerable damage has already been done even if Friday's appeal proceedings end favourably for the government, comments the taz:

“On the one hand because the plaintiff against the curfew is now successfully casting herself as a victim of an alleged coronavirus dictatorship. ... On the other hand because the legal tug-of-war has once again highlighted how Mark Rutte's centre-right government undermines its own position with its fiasco-ridden coronavirus policy. Criticism of its course is sometimes well-founded and sometimes just populist. Which naturally doesn't mean that measures that so drastically interfere with fundamental rights must not be underpinned by a watertight constitutional framework - also and precisely because the majority of Dutch people accept them.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Dangerous hunger for power

De Volkskrant discerns a pattern in the politicians' behaviour:

“Power creates a longing for even more power - this has become clear again: because of all the leeway the state has given itself in the past year - which was to a certain extent unavoidable in the fight against the pandemic - proportionality is repeatedly coming under pressure. Plans are presented too hastily or without sufficient preparation. ... The political consequences of this lack of deliberation can be far-reaching. Regardless of what is decided in the courtroom, the curfew is back on the political agenda. And it was never a popular measure.”