Chancellor Angela Merkel ditched a plan agreed on Tuesday for an extended Easter to try to break a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, apologising to lockdown-weary Germans after the hastily-conceived plan triggered a huge backlash.
At talks that ran into the early hours of Tuesday, Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states had agreed to call on citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holidays, declaring April 1 and April 3 as extra “rest days”.
The measure would have included the closure of all stores, including essential ones, for four of the five days.
“The idea of an Easter shutdown was drafted with the best of intentions. We urgently need to stop and reverse the third wave of the pandemic,” she said.
But it was not possible to implement the hastily agreed measures so quickly, Merkel said, and apologised for added uncertainty that it had raised for Germans.
“This mistake is mine alone,” she said.
Her comments came against a backdrop of growing public frustration with the conservative-led government over the slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and extended lockdown measures.