German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday backed off a controversial plan to impose a five-day shutdown over the Easter holidays (April 1-5), calling it a “mistake.”
In the wake of the reversal, Merkel apologized to the nation in a brief statement from the chancellery.
The whole process triggered additional uncertainty, she said, adding: “I deeply regret that and for that, I ask all citizens’ forgiveness.”
Merkel took full responsibility for her action, saying: “This mistake is solely my fault.”
Before the hastily arranged announcement, the chancellor had previously informed the 16 state prime ministers of her decision.
The idea was “designed with the best of intentions,” said Merkel, pointing to the need to slow down the third wave of the pandemic.
“Nevertheless, the idea of the so-called Easter rest was a mistake. It had its good reasons, but in the short space of time it could not be implemented well enough if it can ever be implemented in such a way that the cost and benefit are in a reasonable relationship,” said Merkel.
She explained that too many unanswered questions, from continued payment of wages to the situation in shops and companies, could not have been solved in the brief time available.
On Tuesday night, the federal and state governments had decided to tighten the April 1-5 Easter lockdown.
But the decision met fierce criticism, and there was also great confusion about its practical implementation.
Germany’s infection rate is rising at a pace not seen since the record high it saw in December and January.
The numbers dropped sharply in February, but now they are moving upward again as Germany enters a third wave of the pandemic, spurred by new variants and infections among people younger than 65.