BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday scrapped an unpopular plan to shut the German economy for two extra days over Easter, apologizing for what she called “a mistake” amid widespread anger over her government’s increasingly chaotic approach to combating the coronavirus.
The chancellor’s reversal came less than 36 hours after she proposed two additional “off days” around Easter, effectively extending the existing holiday to five consecutive days in hopes of halting a spike in coronavirus infections. The suggestion — made after nearly 12 hours of deliberations between Ms. Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states — was met with an almost immediate backlash because it would have required businesses to close.
Faced with criticism from both her own conservative bloc and from opposition politicians, along with a flood of complaints from a public worn out by 12 months of lockdowns and reopenings, the chancellor called a quick news conference and announced her decision to reverse course.
wrote on Twitter, urging the chancellor to reverse course.
“There is growing concern across the economy about long-lasting, irreparable damage,” said Siegfried Russwurm, president of the powerful B.D.I. association of German industries. He stressed the need for a “coherent pandemic concept” and urged leaders to factor more than the number of infections into their risk calculations.
cleared it for use.
The suspension set Germany back several days in its vaccine campaign and further weakened trust in AstraZeneca. The company’s vaccine was already suffering from an image problem in Germany after experts initially limited its use to adults 64 and younger, citing a lack of information on the effects in older people. That decision was reversed several weeks later.
Despite the frustrations, many Germans realize the only way to stop the virus from spreading is to reduce contact between people and retreat again to their homes. As onerous as that idea may be after a year of restrictions, nearly a third of Germans surveyed last week said the government’s measures had not gone far enough.
The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since early March. Many intensive care stations have no more than two beds free.