UPDATE [12pm, March 24]: In a backflip on Wednesday morning, Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed the so-called “Ruhetage”, or rest days, planned for Easter Thursday and Saturday. The Easter period will now revert to normal, with public holidays on Friday, April 2 and Monday, April 5. DPA reports that several state leaders had heavily criticised the plan, claiming they weren’t properly consulted during the marathon Monday night talks.
On Monday night, Germany’s national leaders decided to extend the current lockdown until April 18. In Berlin, the shutdown will last until at least April 24. The decision reversed an agreement in early March by federal and state leaders to begin reopening sectors of the economy, such as cultural, leisure and athletic facilities
Regions will revert to the tougher rules seen in February if local incidence rates exceed 100 cases per 100,000 people – a development likely in Berlin, where the number stands at 102.3 [Tuesday, March 23]. This means museums and some retail spaces may once again have to close their doors to visitors.
The updated rules for Easter (April 2 – 5)
- Friday, April 2 and Monday, April 5 are public holidays
In addition to these rules, authorities have demanded airlines stop adding flights to routes such as Mallorca, which saw a surge of bookings once the region was no longer deemed a “high-incidence area”. Travellers to Mallorca must now present a negative Covid-19 test before flying back to Germany. An estimated 40,000 holidaymakers have booked trips abroad during the Easter period.
“What we have is essentially a new pandemic,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the early hours of Tuesday morning after marathon, 12-hour meeting between federal and state leaders on Monday night. She asserted that the new variants prevalent in Germany are “significantly more deadly, significantly more infectious” than at the start of the pandemic.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller told reporters that the lockdown was essential to winning time during the sluggish rollout of Germany’s vaccination programme.