Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has apologised for easing COVID-19 restrictions in late June, amid a surge in infections. The Netherlands had sped up its de-escalation of restrictions last month, but have seen case numbers rise to their highest levels in 2021.
The Dutch government has since re-closed bars and clubs to combat the spike in new cases, driven by the Delta variant. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Rutte conceded that the decision to ease measures had been a “miscalculation”.
“What we thought was possible turned out to be wrong in practice. We made a miscalculation, we are disappointed about it and we apologise,” he said.
The decision to reinstate some restrictions — just two weeks after they were lifted — has also led to strong criticism of the PM, and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. Rutte admitted that the government had not been “self-critical enough” when reintroducing restrictions on Friday. The PM had said that the initial decision to relax measures was “logical and responsible at the time”.
But Rutte stated on Friday that the increase in infections was “going faster than the calculations said”.
Along with early and full closures, social distancing will be reinforced. The measures are expected to last until August 13.