Germany introduces a strict, five-day lockdown over Easter, and asks citizens to stay home.

Germany introduces a strict, five-day lockdown over Easter, and asks citizens to stay home.

Germany introduces a strict, five-day lockdown over Easter, and asks citizens to stay home.

Germany introduces a strict, five-day lockdown over Easter, and asks citizens to stay home.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, warning that her country is facing a significantly more deadly wave of the coronavirus, announced a five-day lockdown over Easter and the extension of existing restrictions until mid-April in an effort to break a spike in coronavirus cases.

Starting April 1, until the following Monday, Germany will effectively shut down for an extended Easter break, with private meetings limited to only two groups of up to five adults and all stores ordered shuttered, with only supermarkets allowed to open on the Saturday. Churches are asked to hold services online, and people are being asked to stay home and not travel.

“We are in a very, very serious situation,” Ms. Merkel told a news conference early Tuesday, after hours of deliberations with the leaders of the country’s 16 states over the Easter lockdown and extension of existing restrictions through April 18.

“After we were able to sharply bring down the number of new infections in January, we are now experiencing, through the spread of the more contagious British variant, a more dangerous variation, the numbers are going up and the intensive care beds are filling up,” she said.

Germany is the latest country in Europe to tighten restrictions as more contagious virus variants spread and the continent struggles to vaccinate its citizens. Poland, Italy and parts of France have ordered that residents stay home, and many businesses have shut ahead of the holiday.

A resurgent virus and lagging vaccinations have forced governments to renege on promises that they would slowly reopen businesses and society as spring approached. That has spurred protests across Europe as people chafe at more restrictions.

Europe’s vaccine campaign slowed after a small number of cases of blood clots and abnormal bleeding were reported in patients who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, dampening confidence in its safety. While the European drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, cleared the vaccine for use last week and said it was “safe and effective,” the scare further complicated vaccination efforts.

Just three weeks ago, Ms. Merkel and state officials hammered out a road map to reopening that relied on a decline in case rates. But the number of new daily cases in Germany has increased by 69 percent in the past two weeks, to levels last seen in January.

  • Residents of England who travel abroad without a valid reason will be fined 5,000 pounds, or $6,900, under coronavirus regulations that are scheduled to come into force on Monday if lawmakers approve. Daily coronavirus deaths in Britain have dropped to their lowest level since fall, thanks in part to a vaccination program that has already reached more than half the adult population, and the country is preparing to slowly reopen its economy after months of national lockdown. A stay-at-home order is to be lifted on Monday, though many shops and other businesses will be closed until mid-April or later. Travel abroad for leisure is banned until May 17 at the earliest, and the new regulations signal a potentially longer wait for vacationers.

  • A year after European leaders ordered people into their homes to curb a deadly pandemic, thousands are pouring into streets and squares. Often, they are met by batons and shields, raising questions about the tactics and role of the police in societies where personal liberties have already given way to public health concerns. From Spain and Denmark to Austria and Romania, frustrated people are lashing out at the restrictions on their daily lives.

  • Health authorities in Greece announced a record in daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday, just a day after the country’s government relaxed some lockdown restrictions. The country’s national public health organization reported 3,586 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily rate since the beginning of the pandemic. The announcement came a day after authorities allowed archaeological sites to reopen, ahead of a planned reopening of the Greek tourism sector in mid-May.

  • Mumbai, India’s financial hub, has begun random testing for the coronavirus in malls, railway stations and other crowded places as officials attempt to tamp down on a worrying surge in cases. Rapid antigen tests will be taken without individuals’ consent, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said in a statement on Monday. Anyone who resists will be in violation of India’s colonial-era epidemic act, which gives the government the power to fine or imprison people who violate rules to contain an outbreak.

  • The world-famous cherry trees of Japan are expected to be in full bloom in most of the country this week, but once again the coronavirus pandemic will keep the usual crowds away. Spring in Japan has long meant cherry blossoms, or sakura, with scores of picnickers welcoming the warmer weather over bento box lunches or barbecue as well as copious amounts of sake and other alcohol. But last spring, with the coronavirus spreading, officials were quick to curb cherry-blossom viewing despite its cultural significance. Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, compared the loss to “taking hugs away from Italians.”

Emily Schmall, Hisako Ueno, Mark Landler, Stephen Castle and Isabella Kwai contributed.


Source link

Check Also

Election Overhaul Plan Threatens to Sideline Hong Kong’s Opposition

Election Overhaul Plan Threatens to Sideline Hong Kong’s Opposition

Election Overhaul Plan Threatens to Sideline Hong Kong’s Opposition Election Overhaul Plan Threatens to Sideline …