Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Germany appears set to drop Easter shutdown plan

BERLIN — 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. Merkel on Wednesday convened a hastily arranged videoconference with the 16 state governors, who in highly decentralized Germany are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions. Their decision in the early hours of Tuesday prompted confusion and criticism.

The plan was to make Thursday next week — the day before Good Friday — a “day of calm,” with all shops closed, and only to allow supermarkets to open on Easter Saturday. Since Friday and Monday are already holidays, that would have created a five-day shutdown of public life — on top of existing lockdown restrictions, which were extended through April 18.

News agency dpa reported, citing several unidentified participants, that Merkel told governors at the start of Wednesday’s meeting that she had decided to halt the plan. Merkel was due to make a public statement later Wednesday and then face a previously scheduled question-and-answer session with lawmakers in parliament. The project had raised many questions about logistical details, which remained unresolved. Also, it was criticized because there had been no public discussion of it before it emerged following lengthy haggling.

The early hours of Tuesday morning. Infection numbers in Germany have been rising again as the more contagious variant of the virus that was first detected in Britain has become dominant. Germany has registered 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 infection cases — a week ago, there were 13,435 new cases.

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