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Appeals court set to rule on legality of Netherlands coronavirus curfew

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Riot police were deployed in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands following violence last month
Riot police were deployed in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands following violence last month   -   Copyright  Mike Corder/AP
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A court in the Netherlands is expected to decide next week whether ministers lawfully used emergency powers to introduce a coronavirus curfew.

The Court of Appeal in The Hague heard a government appeal on Friday after a lower court said earlier in the week that the curfew should be stopped.

The suspension was temporarily overturned on Tuesday night.

The appeals court verdict is unlikely to reverse the curfew, which is in place between 9 pm and 4.30 am every night until March 2, because it was approved by MPs in parliament on Thursday.

The measures, which Prime Minister Mark Rutte says are necessary to combat the spread of the coronavirus, are supported by most Dutch political parties.

A further vote is expected later on Friday in the senate, where an approval would render the appeals court verdict largely irrelevant.

But Euronews correspondent Fernande van Tets says the court process had raised questions about the curfew's legality after the government rushed the legislation through.

"This whole legal soap opera has caused a lot of confusion," she told Good Morning Europe.

"Police have actually stopped handing out a lot of fines over the past few days because the situation is so unclear."

Over 24,000 fines have been handed out so far, she added.

Rutte said he regretted the "lack of clarity".

He told MPs on Thursday: "That's why the Cabinet has tried to create clarity as quickly as possible via the urgent appeal against the court decision and also the legislation we're talking about."

The Netherlands exceeded one million cases of COVID-19 this month and reported 15,211 deaths as of February 18.

The vast majority of the country has been abiding by lockdown restrictions and surveys suggest between 60 and 75% of the population support them.

Rutte is hoping to be returned to office in a snap general election on March 17.