Germany extended its lockdown for three weeks, imposing an almost complete halt over the Easter holiday in response to a third wave of coronavirus infections.
After talks with regional leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was now in a “very serious” situation.
Restrictions will be even tougher from 1-5 April, when most shops will be shut and gatherings will be limited.
Essentially, we have a new virus,” Chancellor Merkel said after marathon talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states. The highly contagious UK (Kent) variant of coronavirus had become dominant in Germany, she explained, plunging the country into “a new pandemic”.
It is much deadlier, much more infectious and infectious for much longer. Germany was in a race against time to vaccinate against the coronavirus, she added.
The heads of Germany’s Catholic and Protestant Churches expressed dismay over the ban on Easter church congregations. They argued that their existing social-distancing measures made church attendance safe, German ARD news reported.
The infection rate has risen above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany. A further 7,485 infections have been reported in the past 24 hours, as well as 250 deaths.