Parked bicycles in a residential area during the curfew in Amsterdam on January 27, 2020. Photo: AFP/Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto

A Dutch court Tuesday ordered the government to lift a nationwide coronavirus curfew that sparked the worst riots in the Netherlands for decades.

A judge at The Hague district court backed a case brought by the Virus Truth campaign group, saying the government wrongly used emergency powers.

The 9:00pm to 4:30am curfew which started on January 23 was the first to be imposed in the Netherlands since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

“The curfew must be lifted immediately,” The Hague district court said in a statement.

“The curfew is a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy.”

The government can challenge the decision but any appeal would not suspend the judge’s order, a spokesman for the court was quoted as saying.

There was no immediate response from the government – which is sitting in a caretaker capacity ahead of elections on March 17 after resigning over a child benefits scandal.

The Dutch government last week extended the curfew until at least March 2.

But the court said that the “introduction of the curfew did not invoke the special urgency required” to use the emergency laws that it used to bring in the restrictions without going through the lower and upper houses of parliament.

Curfews were for use in sudden emergencies such as a dyke breach, the judge said.

The judge said the fact that the curfew was discussed ahead of its imposition meant that the government had enough warning to go through the proper process.

“Therefore, the use of this law to impose curfew is not legitimate,” the court said.