Germany extends virus lockdown till mid-April as cases rise

BERLIN (AP) — Germany has extended its lockdown measures by another month and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, in an effort to drive down the rate of coronavirus infections.

Speaking yesterday after a lengthy video call with the country’s 16 state governors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that restrictions previously set to run through March 28 will now remain in place until April 18.

Coronavirus infections have increased steadily in Germany as the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has become dominant, and the country’s daily number of cases per capita has passed that of the United States (US). “We basically have a new pandemic,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

“Essentially we have a new virus, obviously of the same type but with completely different characteristics,” she added. “Significantly more deadly, significantly more infectious (and) infectious for longer.”

Since their last meeting three weeks ago, which saw the two sides agree a multi-step plan to relax restrictions, several states have tried to avoid going back into tougher lockdowns when the weekly number of new infections exceeds 100 per 100,000 residents on three consecutive days.

Merkel made clear that she wouldn’t accept that.

“Unfortunately, we will have to make use of this emergency brake,” she said.

People wait after their vaccinations at a local vaccination centre in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany. PHOTO: AP