Netherlands drops curfew after more than 3 months

THE HAGUE - The mandatory curfew that was imposed on the Netherlands on January 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus officially ended on Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. The controversial measure was the first national curfew since World War II, and called for the public to remain indoors during curfew hours with few exceptions.

The curfew initially started at 9 p.m., and later shifted to 10 p.m., ending every morning at 4:30 a.m. Violators risked a fine of 95 euros if they were caught outdoors without proof of their exemption, which were granted mostly for work-related reasons and emergencies.

The curfew was eliminated as part of the first of a six-step plan to release the Netherlands from lockdown restrictions. Wednesday will also bring other rules changes, like allowing non-essential retailers to allow customers without first making an appointment, and the the limited reopening of outdoor cafe terraces from noon to 6 p.m. Funerals may also be attended by 100 mourners, up from 50, and households may allow up to two guests above the age of 12 per day, up from one visitor.

In February, a lower court ruled that the curfew should be eliminated immediately, questioning the government’s legal basis for instituting it. That order was quickly overturned by three-judge panel, which said the Cabinet’s arguments for the curfew were legally sound.

The curfew was proposed by outgoing prime minister, Mark Rutte, and his health minister, Hugo de Jonge, earlier in January. As the issue was considered too controversial for a caretaker Cabinet, they had to win over a majority in Parliament to pass the measure.

The 2021 curfew prompted violent illegal protests and riots across the country in the first weeks after it was introduced, and led to larger protests against ongoing lockdown measures, particularly in Amsterdam.

The last time the Netherlands had a curfew was in 1945, the year World War II ended in Europe.

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