Germany will prolong its coronavirus restrictions until April 18 and enter a strict shutdown for five days over Easter in a bid to halt soaring infection rates, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday morning after marathon talks with regional leaders.
As well as extending existing measures including keeping cultural, leisure and sporting facilities shut, Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers agreed a tougher shutdown between April 1 and 5.
Almost all shops will be shut during the five days, and religious services will be moved online over Easter. Only grocers will be allowed to open on Saturday April 3.
Merkel further said that British coronavirus variant has become the dominant strain in Germany, meaning that Europe’s biggest economy was “in a new pandemic”.
“Essentially, we have a new virus…it is much deadlier, much more infectious and infectious for much longer,” the veteran chancellor said at a press conference in Berlin.