Coronavirus: Germany's Merkel reverses plans for Easter lockdown

Coronavirus: Germany's Merkel reverses plans for Easter lockdown”

At the talks earlier this week, Dr Merkel pushed for reversing plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sharp rise in the infection rate.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states had agreed at marathon talks on Monday that nearly all shops were to be closed on 1-5 April, with only grocers allowed to open on Saturday, 3 April.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told German state governors on Wednesday that she plans to halt an unexpected decision to impose a deeper coronavirus shutdown over Easter, news agency dpa reported.

Under Merkel's plan - which is backed by regional leaders from her conservative CDU/CSU bloc - all stores would be shuttered from April 1 for five or six days, and gatherings in public spaces banned, the reports said. More than 3,000 people with COVID-19 were in intensive care beds as of Sunday.

"It's hard for longer than we thought", she said, "but there's definitely light visible at the end of the tunnel".

He said new infections in Germany were rising at an "exponential rate" and that there wasn't enough vaccine to stop it. Numerous regional leaders had voiced loud criticism over what they said were inconsistent policies, citing as one example a ban on holidays within Germany while travel to places like Majorca remained possible.

The number of cases per 100,000 people over a week stood at 107 on Monday, above the level at which intensive care units will be overwhelmed.

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The country had begun easing restrictions, first reopening schools in late February, before allowing hairdressers and some shops to resume business in March.

However, schools will remain partially open and overnight curfews were ruled out, despite being proposed in a draft document before the talks.

Berlin had also struck a deal with air carriers to ensure that all travellers returning to Germany would be tested, Merkel said.

Meanwhile, Germany is trying to speed up its vaccination campaign after a slow start.

"I support Commission President Ursula von der Leyen", said Merkel.

The chancellor made the remarks at an emergency videoconference with Germany's 16 state premiers, scheduled on short notice Wednesday morning before Merkel was due to answer lawmakers' questions at the Bundestag, the German parliament.

European officials are furious that AstraZeneca has been able to deliver its United Kingdom contract in full while falling short on its supplies to the EU.

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