Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday morning called for an urgent meeting with leaders of federal states to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, a day after they agreed to extend the lockdown to April 18.
During talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel had on Monday pushed for a tougher stance to fight the pandemic, reversing plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sudden sharp rise in the infection rate.
The state premiers, however, pushed back at the talks and agreed only to call on citizens to stay at home for five days over the the Easter holidays to try to break a third wave of the pandemic.
The move was severely criticised from all sides, with businesses lamenting the extended lockdown and medical experts saying the new measures were not tough enough to prevent the exponential spread of more infectious variants of the Covid-19 virus.
Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the premier of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, told the regional parliament he expected a very critical discussion about what had happened during the talks earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Merkel’s CDU also came under fierce attack for its handling of the pandemic due to the slow pace of vaccinations and a corruption scandal over the procurement of face masks, hurting its poll ratings ahead of a national election in September.
It is to be mentioned that Germany is among one of the worst hit countries in the world with 15,813 single-day infections reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,690,523, while the death toll rose by 248 to 75,212.