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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.

Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.

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