Disco downer: yo-yo policy in the Netherlands

Three weeks ago, the Netherlands lifted almost all its Covid-related restrictions. Clubs and discos were allowed to reopen for the first time in over a year. Last Saturday, however, the country's health authority reported 10,000 new infections and Prime Minister Mark Rutte was forced to backpedal. He and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge apologised on Monday for the "yo-yo policy".

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

No different than Portugal or the UK

The apology was warranted, says NRC Handelsblad:

“Hopefully the government will now pay more attention to common sense. There were already signals three weeks ago, such as the rapid spread of the Delta variant in the UK, Portugal and Spain. The abolition of the mask requirement reinforced the impression that the danger had been banished and that the Netherlands was different from the rest of the EU. You can argue that as long as hospital admissions don't go up it's not a big deal. And that it's mainly younger people who are getting infected now, with a lower risk of needing hospital treatment. But what if they infect others who have not yet been vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated?”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Like a wrong-way driver

This gesture is worth nothing, mocks De Volkskrant columnist Frank Heinen:

“This was not an apology, but at best a rambling explanation about faltering vaccination numbers in certain areas and young people infecting older people. ... De Jonge and Rutte are like those men in the old joke who hear a warning that there's a wrong-way driver on the car radio, whereupon one shouts, 'One? I see at least 80!' After the inevitable crash, you get an abstract linguistic artwork that is sold as an apology, but which - if you hang it upside down - could also pass for self-praise.”

De Morgen (BE) /

A good way to kill trust

In Belgium, too, the number of infections is rising, especially among young people returning from holidays in Spain. De Morgen nevertheless urges calm:

“Society and politics must seek a new balance in their risk analysis. If we continue to tense up every time someone falls ill, we can say goodbye to freedom once and for all. Belgium has taken a relatively relaxed approach so far, with the gradual introduction of relaxations. Unlike the Netherlands, we don't have a minister who sings funny songs against compulsory masks here. The Netherlands is showing us how not to do things: merrily rushing ahead with easing of restrictions and then crawling back in panic. This is deadly for trust in the political leadership.”