The Dutch prime minister didn’t visit his dying mother because of COVID-19 lockdown rules, as UK government defends apparent breaches by top adviser

Left: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at an EU summit on February 21, 2020. Right: UK senior government adviser Dominic Cummings Ludovic Marin, Pool Photo via AP/Reuters
  • The prime minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte adhered to the country’s lockdown rules and did not visit his mother as she died, his office has said.
  • Rutte even attended a cabinet meeting about the coronavirus on the day of his 96-year-old mother’s death, according to local media.
  • The announcement has prompted comparisons to a political firestorm in the UK, after senior government adviser Dominic Cummings travelled 260 miles to his family home.
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The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he fully respected lockdown rules during his mother’s last weeks, meaning he was unable to see her in person when she died.

The announcement comes as the UK is in uproar over accusations that Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser Dominic Cummings has flouted lockdown rules which he helped put into place.

Rutte’s spokesperson told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the Dutch prime minister had “complied with all directives” during lockdown, according to The Guardian.

His mother, Mieke Rutte-Dilling, was 96 when she passed away on May 13, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Although she did not die from the coronavirus, her care home had seen an earlier outbreak, and was affected by the nationwide lockdown that was announced on March 15.

According to the paper, Rutte attended a cabinet crisis meeting to address the coronavirus on the day of his mother’s death.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte takes part in a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 15, 2020. (Tobias Hase/dpa via AP)
Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte takes part in a panel discussion in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 15, 2020. Associated Press

The news of Rutte’s mourning without being able to visit his mother came as the UK government was consumed by efforts to defend its most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Cummings was involved in forming the UK’s lockdown policy as part of his work for Johnson. Over the weekend, UK newspapers The Guardian and The Mirror reported that Cummings made several trips during the lockdown, in apparent breach of the rules.

At a time when official government advice forbade non-essential journeys, Cummings and his wife and child drove 260 miles to the property of his parents. At the time, both Cummings and his wife had symptoms of the coronavirus.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings giving a press conference at Downing Street on Monday, during which he attempted to justify his journey during lockdown. Jonathan Brady-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The overarching guidance during the UK’s lockdown instructs: “Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.”

In a highly unusual press conference on Monday, Cummings argued that he made the journey out of fear that he and his wife would become too ill to look after their child.

He insisted there was room in the guidelines for parents to act with their own discretion in urgent situations – a claim which was met with derision by many, who called for Cummings to be fired.

The prime minister has backed him up, despite 20 MPs in his Conservative Party publicly calling for Cummings’ resignation. On Tuesday, government minister Douglas Ross resigned over the matter, according to The Guardian.

People compared Cummings unfavorably with Rutte’s sacrifice. Broadcaster Piers Morgan – who has been scathing about Cummings’ conduct – retweeted a story about Rutte with the comment: “THIS”