BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel abandoned plans for a five-day shutdown in Germany over Easter on Wednesday, sparking confusion and criticism. He called the idea a mistake and apologized to the Germans.
Merkel announced the decision after calling for a hastily organized video conference Wednesday with Germany’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting the restrictions. The same group had devised the unexpected plan for deeper restrictions during Easter, which was announced early Tuesday.
The plan was to make Thursday of next week, the day before Good Friday, a “day of rest”, with all stores closed and only allow supermarkets to open on Easter Saturday. Since Friday and Monday are already public holidays, that would have created a five-day shutdown of public life, in addition to the existing shutdown restrictions, which were extended until April 18.
The plan had raised many questions about logistical details, which remained unresolved, and was also criticized because there had been no public discussion about it before it emerged early Tuesday after lengthy haggling.
“The idea of a closing of Easter was developed with the best intentions, because we must urgently manage to stop and reverse the third wave of the pandemic,” said Merkel. “However, the idea … was a mistake; there were good reasons for it, but it could not be implemented well enough in this short period of time.”
“This mistake is just my mistake,” he told reporters. “An error must be classified as an error and, above all, it must be corrected, and if possible, it must happen in time”
“At the same time, of course, I know that this whole matter generates more uncertainty, I deeply regret it and I apologize to all citizens,” he said.
The number of infections in Germany has risen again as the most contagious variant of the virus first detected in Britain has become dominant in the country.
Germany has recorded more than 75,000 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic a year ago. The country’s disease control center also reported 15,815 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours on Wednesday; a week ago there were 13,435 new cases.
Merkel said that even without the close of Easter, the decisions she has made with state governors offer a “framework” to combat the new wave of coronavirus infections.
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