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Dutch restaurant group suing state over Covid closures, warns industry is on brink of bankruptcy with no end to lockdown in sight

Dutch restaurant group suing state over Covid closures, warns industry is on brink of bankruptcy with no end to lockdown in sight
The Netherlands' largest restaurant association has said it will sue the Dutch state in a bid to get the government to drop its ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, due to their devastating impact on the hospitality sector.

Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) said on Monday it was taking legal action based on the fact that the government has not provided epidemiological evidence for the restrictions that have forced the industry to close.

KHN has also criticized a lack of state financial support for restaurateurs and the government's failure to announce an exit plan for the current shutdown. The amount the association is seeking through the lawsuit has not been disclosed.

The association's chairman, Rober Willemsen, said he was "deeply disappointed" in the government and its decision to uphold the current measures, warning that the "catering industry is going to hell."

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"The mandatory closure of the catering industry, plus the fact that the support from the government does not cover 100 percent of the costs, means that many entrepreneurs face bankruptcy," he explained.

The Dutch government's approach to the pandemic has been mired in controversy, with riots erupting in January over its decision to impose the nation's first blanket curfews since World War II.

On Friday Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte risked further public fury as he succeeded in pushing through an emergency bill to uphold the existing 9pm-4:30am stay-at-home order, which had been subject to legal action.

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Earlier in the week, a district court had found the curfews to be a "far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy" and they were ruled "not legitimate."

However, following a government appeal, the ruling was overturned and the curfews were reinstated by judges on Wednesday.

The measures were imposed on January 23 and will last until at least early March, although judges are set to meet again this Friday to deliver a final verdict on the issue.

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