Mar 24, 2021 - World

Germany apologizes and drops plans for strict Easter COVID lockdown

Angela Merkel at weekly government cabinet meeting on March 24, 2021.

Angela Merkel at weekly government cabinet meeting on March 24, 2021. Photo: Henning Schacht - Pool/Getty Images

Germany will no longer implement a stricter shutdown over the Easter holiday period on April 1-5, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday, calling the plan a mistake and apologizing to citizens, reports AP.

Why it matters: This is a speedy reversal of a portion of a plan announced Tuesday to extend COVID-19 restrictions in Germany another month, with a tightening of measures over Easter.

  • The new restrictions faced public criticism due to the lack of public discussion preceding it and the breadth of logistical details that remain unanswered about it, per AP.

Details: Merkel announced the change in plans after an impromptu call Wednesday with the governors of Germany's 16 states, which had helped concoct the original plan to extend the current lockdown until April 18 with an extra tightening of measures during the Easter holiday.

What they're saying: “The idea of an Easter shutdown was drawn up with the best intentions, because we must urgently manage to slow and reverse the third wave of the pandemic,” Merkel said. “However, the idea ... was a mistake."

  • "[O]f course I know that this whole matter triggers more uncertainty — I regret that deeply and I apologize to all citizens,” she said.

The big picture: Just last week German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that coronavirus cases in the country were rising at an "exponential rate," and that Germany does not have enough vaccine doses to avoid a third wave of the virus.

  • The weekend saw anti-lockdown protests in several cities in Germany, with 20,000 people filling the streets of the city of Kassel.
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