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Angela Merkel backtracks on Easter lockdown after uproar

DW, 24 Mar 2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states will reverse their plan to toughen virus lockdown measures over Easter.

Merkel announced the changes after an impromptu videoconference with the 16 regional leaders in which she explained the U-turn and said the mistake was ultimately hers to answer for.

During a press conference, Merkel said the Easter lockdown was formed "with the best of intentions."

"We must try to slow down the third wave of the pandemic. Nevertheless, it was a mistake," Merkel said, adding: "Because at the end of the day, I carry the last responsibility."

"It's now important for me to say so here. A mistake should be called a mistake and above all, it should be corrected, preferably in good time," she stressed, asking citizens for forgiveness.

Merkel said that on closer analysis, the planned shutdown risked doing more harm than good. She also said there was not enough time to adequately offset some of the problems that would come with it, such as lost earnings and working hours.

After 12 hours of talks, Merkel and state premiers agreed on Tuesday to pull the emergency brake and reverse the easing of restrictions in areas where the 7-day incidence rate exceeds 100 cases per 100,000 people for three consecutive days.

They also announced an even tighter lockdown over the long Easter weekend, between April 1 and April 5, when the whole country, including most grocery stores, would have to close. Contact between two households would remain permitted.

Merkel described the measures as an attempt to "break the exponential growth of the third wave." They immediately met with widespread criticism.

Leading epidemiologists say a five-day tighter stint over Easter would have little to no effect on combating the third wave which has swept across Germany.

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