Decision on “quiet days” over Easter reversed

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Meeting of the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder Decision on “quiet days” over Easter reversed

Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided not to introduce the regulatory provisions that would have been needed for the agreed contact-breaker over the Easter weekend, from the Thursday before Easter to Easter Monday. Even without this, she said, the decision taken on 22 March provides a good framework for stemming the exponential rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases.   

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Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German Bundestag

Chancellor Angela Merkel during government question time in the German Bundestag on Wednesday

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

“We simply must manage to brake the third wave of the pandemic,” stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. It was with the best of intentions that the “quiet days” decision was taken. “Nevertheless the idea was a mistake,” admitted the Chancellor in a statement to the press. The many questions thus raised could not be satisfactorily answered in the very short space of time available – from whether employers should be required to pay staff for hours not worked on these days to the situation in shops and companies. The preparations for the “quiet days” over Easter have thus been stopped, she reported.

“A mistake must be called out as such, and above all must be corrected,” stressed Angela Merkel again during question time on Wednesday in the German Bundestag. She expressed her great regret for the uncertainty triggered by the “quiet days” decision. “I would like to apologise to all citizens for this.”

Fighting the spread of the virus together

The Chancellor thanked everyone “who is helping brake and stop the third wave of the more deadly and more contagious mutation of the coronavirus, by acting appropriately”. Even without the contact-breaker over the Easter weekend, the decision made on Monday 22 March offers a framework for this, with its differentiated measures depending on the pandemic situation in individual regions.

Angela Merkel declared her conviction that, “We will vanquish the virus together. The road is hard and stony. There are successes along the way, but also mistakes and setbacks. But the virus will cease to be a horror,” said the Chancellor in the German Bundestag.

Chancellor answers parliamentarians’ questions

After her statement, she answered the questions put by parliamentarians. She made special mention of the importance of rapid antigen tests in children’s daycare, schools and companies. The virus variant that is now widespread is also dangerous for children. That is why there must be an even greater focus on protection in schools.

Twice weekly testing in schools equates with “a high level of safety”. “It would be good if this were already being done,” added Angela Merkel. “We’re not there yet.” The Länder, or federal states, which are responsible for testing, have reported that they have ordered a sufficient number of tests for March and April, she reported. The Federal Government is providing procurement support. 

To break the third wave, the agreed emergency brake must be applied rigorously, said Angela Merkel. “And that means reverting to the contact restrictions that were in place until 7 March.” The decision taken at the meeting of the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder also provides for additional measures such as stricter contact restrictions and curfews. She pointed out that these are already in common use in many other European states at the moment.

One of the things agreed by the Heads of Government of the Länder at their meeting on Monday 22 March was a “quiet period” over the Easter weekend, from the Thursday before Easter (1 April) and including the Saturday of the Easter weekend (3 April). Only food shops were to open on the Saturday. This part of the decision has now been reversed.

But what still applies: Private gatherings over this period may not exceed a total of 5 people from no more than two households; children under the age of 14 are not counted.