In her interview on Sunday, Ms. Merkel threatened to centralize power in the chancellery if state leaders ignored the need for more restrictions on movement.

Under Germany’s postwar system of decentralized government — set up by the Allies as a response to Hitler’s rule — the bar is set high for such a move, making it difficult for the chancellor to impose a nationwide lockdown without the governors’ support. But Parliament could support such a move by revising a law governing public health in a pandemic.

Even members of the opposition have said they would support strengthening the chancellor ‘s hand in this circumstance.

“The tug of war over competencies between state and federal leaders is blocking consequent action,” said Janosch Dahmen, an emergency doctor who now sits in Parliament as a lawmaker for the opposition Greens. “The problem will be that it could take weeks or months to debate, but we need to do it right now.”

The chancellor is scheduled to meet with state leaders again on April 12, although medical experts are warning that if the country does not act more quickly, intensive care wards could fill beyond capacity.

Using her weekly podcast to send Easter greetings, the chancellor urged Germans to stay home, take advantage of free testing offered by many states and hold out hope for more vaccines.

“It should be a quiet Easter, one in a small circle, with very reduced contacts. I urge you to refrain from all non-mandatory travel and that we all consistently follow all the rules,” Ms. Merkel said. “Together we will defeat this virus.”

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