Covid-19: Dutch PM Rutte ‘sorry for easing restrictions too soon’

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightEPAimage captionThe easing of restrictions brought back nightlife to city streets in the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has apologised for "an error of judgement" in scrapping most coronavirus restrictions in the country.

The easing three weeks ago led to infection levels surging to their highest this year as nightlife resumed for large numbers of young people.

Curbs on bars, restaurants and nightclubs were reimposed on Friday.

Previously Mr Rutte had refused to take any blame for the opening up, describing it as a "logical step".

On Saturday, the country's public health institute reported more than 10,000 new Covid cases, the highest number in a single day since December.

media captionAre pandemics the new normal?

But so far this has not translated into a significant increase in hospital admissions, as most of the new cases are among young people.

More than 46% of the Netherlands' adult population – mostly from older age groups – is fully vaccinated. More than 77% have received at least one dose.

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Mr Rutte's apology comes as countries across Europe face rising numbers of cases of the Delta variant.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the problem when he speaks to the nation on Monday evening.

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