Dutch lawmakers debate new law backing coronavirus curfew

International

De Waag on Nieuwmarkt Square, historically the eastern gateway to the city, is deserted during curfew in the center of Amsterdam, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. The Netherlands entered its toughest phase of anti-coronavirus restrictions to date, imposing a nationwide night-time curfew from 9 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. in a bid to control the COVID-19 infection rate. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch lawmakers are holding a debate Thursday on hastily drawn up legislation underpinning the country’s coronavirus curfew after a judge ordered the measure scrapped earlier this week.

The lower house of parliament is expected to support the legislation, which would then go to the senate on Friday — the same day that government lawyers go to court to appeal the order banning the 9 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. curfew.

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

A judge in The Hague banned the curfew, saying the law the government used when it introduced the measure last month can only be used in pressing emergencies such as a massive dike breach.

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 variant first discovered in Britain, which has already gained ground in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has been in a tough lockdown since mid-December, with all nonessential stores closed, along with bars, restaurants and other public venues. Elementary schools reopened this month, but all other schools and universities remain shut.

Infections have been slowly declining, with the 7-day rolling average of daily new cases decreasing over the past two weeks from 23.38 new cases per 100,000 people to 21.28 on Feb. 17. The country has more than 15,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

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