#UPDATE – Angela Merkel has since cancelled calling for tighter restrictions during the Easter period in Germany and said, ‘The error is mine, alone.’
Original full report:
Germany is now extending its lockdown until 18 April and calling on citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holidays in order to break a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
Since Friday, many Germans had been travelling to Mallorca, with tens of thousands more planning to enjoy an Easter break in the Balearic Islands, causing indignation among many citizens living on mainland Spain who are not allowed to travel there during Easter, due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Last week Germany lifted quarantine requirements for travellers returning from the Balearic Islands – as well as also removing the Valencia region, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja and Murcia from Covid-19 ‘risk zones’.
Merkel has pushed the leaders of Germany’s 16 states to take a tougher stance to fight the pandemic, and reversed plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sharp rise in the infection rate.
‘We are now basically in a new pandemic. The British mutation has become dominant,’ Merkel told a news conference early on Tuesday. ‘Fundamentally, we face a new virus of the same kind but with very different characteristics. More deadly, more infectious, and infectious for longer,’ she said.
Germany started gradually easing restrictions earlier this month. But the spread of more infectious variants of the Covid-19 has pushed up the cases, and prompted concerns that hospitals could soon be overstretched without further curbs.
For five days from 1 April, Germans are being asked to stay at home and reduce contact as much as possible. But the new measures do not include a closing of all stores, including essential shops like supermarkets, which Merkel had called for. So far, no details have been updated about quarantine for travellers returning to Germany.
Big family gatherings will be banned over the holidays, with no more than two households, or up to five people, being allowed to meet. The government will ask churches to hold any Easter services online to avoid gatherings.