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'It was a mistake': Angela Merkel scraps five-day Easter lockdown in Germany
24 March 2021, 12:22
Angela Merkel has scrapped plans for a five-day lockdown over Easter in Germany, admitting it was a "mistake".
The U-turn comes after a press conference on Wednesday with Germany’s 16 state governors where she stated there was a "new pandemic" in the country.
The country was due to extend its current lockdown measures and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, in an effort to drive down the rate of infections.
Coronavirus infections have been steadily rising in Germany as the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has become dominant.
The country's daily number of cases per capita has now surpassed that of the United States, with the weekly infection rate now 107 per 100,000 people - up from the mid-60s three weeks ago.
The scrapped plans included largely shutting down public life from 1-3 April, adding a public holiday and shutting down most stores for the period.
Public gatherings were set to be banned from 1-5 April to encourage people to stay at home.
Mrs Merkel said Germany, which had comparatively low deaths during the first phase of the pandemic last spring, has seen "successes but also of setbacks" and insisted the situation would improve as more people get vaccinated.
Germany's vaccination campaign has so far lagged behind expectations, with only about 9% of the population receiving at least a first jab and 4% receiving both doses by Sunday.
"It's difficult for longer than we thought," said Mrs Merkel said on Tuesday, "but there's definitely light visible at the end of the tunnel."