Dutch PM Mark Rutte apologises for relaxing measures too soon

The Hague: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has apologised on behalf of his cabinet for making what he called an error of judgment with the rapid relaxation of the Covid-19 measures at the end of June.

“What we thought was possible was not possible,” Rutte told journalists here on Monday.

“I apologize for that.”

The coronavirus infection rate in the Netherlands has increased much faster than expected since the country reopened almost completely on June 26, reports Xinhua news agency.

Most infections have occurred in nightlife settings and parties with high numbers of people.

A total of 8,522 new Covid infections were reported by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) from Sunday to Monday, which is 847 less than the day before.

Over the past seven days, an average of 6,619 positive tests have been registered per day, which is over 500 percent more than in the seven days before.

“All this gives the government cause for concern,” Rutte said.

“We cannot discount the possibility that hospital admissions will again increase in the weeks ahead. We have therefore decided that extra measures are necessary this summer.”

Rutte and outgoing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge on July 9 announced new measures against the spread of coronavirus.

These took effect on July 10 and will remain in place until August 13.

Rutte and de Jonge dismissed accusations that the cabinet had relaxed the restrictions too early at the end of June.

They maintained that with the knowledge and the low infection rates at the time, the choices were justified.

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