Thousands took to streets in Stuttgart as they protested against the virus restrictions amid growing fears of a third wave. The current lockdown involves the closure of non-essential businesses. There are also certain limits set for public gatherings, and requirements to wear a mask. Although the city is going through a phased reopening, the authorities will keep lockdown measures in place until at least 18 April.
Earlier, German chancellor Angela Merkel had announced an easter shutdown after a hastily arranged videoconference with Germany’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions. Her plan was to make the day before Good Friday a “rest day”, with all shops closed and allow only supermarkets to open on Easter Saturday. Merkel’s plan, however, raised many logistical and legal questions and was also criticised because there was no public discussion of it before it emerged Tuesday.
After all the criticism, Merkel on March 25 issued a personal apology to the nation as she dropped plans to put the country under a hard lockdown over Easter. While speaking at a press conference, Merkel said that the plan to close churches and shops over a five-day period has been her mistake. She added that she regretted that her proposal had caused further uncertainty and asked for forgiveness from the public, whose growing frustration with the government’s cumbersome decision-making and glacial vaccine rollout is threatening to damage her party before national elections in September.
Further, the German chancellor even extended the apology to parliament in a previously scheduled question-and-answer session. According to AP, Marco Buschmann, who is the pro-business Free Democrats’ chief whip, said that Merkel’s apology won “brad respect” but pressed her to turn to parliament to manage the pandemic rather than making decisions with small groups of officials. Merkel, on the other hand, responded that the negotiations with state governments are necessary.