- The five-day Easter closure was agreed by Merkel and state leaders on Monday
- But it faced massive criticism that forced her into a dramatic U-turn in 36 hours
- Merkel pleaded for forgiveness as she admitted the move was ‘my mistake alone’
Angela Merkel made an astonishing plea for forgiveness today as she scrapped plans for a strict Easter lockdown in Germany which she said were ‘my mistake, and my mistake alone’.
The planned five-day shutdown – in which even grocery stores would have shut on all but a single day – was agreed between Merkel and state leaders on Monday in a bid to halt the spiralling third wave of Covid-19.
But it faced massive criticism from all sides, with businesses bemoaning the shutdown, workers raising questions about holiday pay and medical experts saying the measures were not tough enough to prevent the exponential spread of the virus.
With her party’s ratings already in freefall amid a long lockdown and slow vaccine roll-out, Merkel was forced to make a dramatic U-turn only 36 hours later and admit there was no way the Easter closure could be implemented at such short notice.
‘I take the final responsibility for everything,’ Merkel said at a hastily-arranged press conference, adding that ‘a mistake has to be called a mistake, and above all it has to be corrected’.
‘I know that this whole process has caused additional uncertainty. I regret that deeply and I ask all our citizens for forgiveness,’ she said.
Despite the U-turn, more than 37million Germans could be facing curfews and forced to wear masks in their own cars under other measures agreed at the talks.
Merkel’s government has agreed to apply the ultra-strict measures on a local basis to areas where more than 100 people in every 100,000 are infected per week.
But this is already the case in nearly 200 of Germany‘s 412 administrative districts – meaning that almost half of the country’s 83million people would be affected.