Angela Merkel imposes Easter lockdown, extends curbs in German setback

German Chancellor Angela Merkel . Photo: PTI
Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed to put Germany into hard lockdown over Easter to try to defuse a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections fuelled by faster-spreading mutations.

 

After more than 11 hours of tense talks that ended early Tuesday, Merkel and state leaders extended existing lockdown measures for four more weeks and postponed plans to reopen Europe’s largest economy. But they failed to reach an agreement on tougher measures such as curfews in hard-hit areas and establish rules for domestic travel.

 

“We are now in a very, very serious situation,” Merkel said at a news conference that started just after 2:30 a.m. in Berlin. “The case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive-care beds are filling up again,” she said, adding that the number of infections must come down to allow the country’s vaccination campaign to start taking effect.

 

In the radical Easter shutdown — one of the toughest in Germany since the start of the pandemic — all stores will be shuttered from April 1 for five days, except for food stores which will open on April 3, Merkel said after the video call with the country’s 16 state premiers. Citizens will be encouraged to remain at home, private gatherings limited to one other household and a maximum of five people, and public meetings banned.



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