Merkel drops plan for stricter Easter shutdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dropped plans for a stricter coronavirus shutdown over the Easter holidays, just a day after the measures were announced.

On Tuesday, Merkel said all stores would be closed for five days from April 1, apart from food shops on April 3. The aim was to prevent infections over Easter, when many families get together.

But critics of the plan say people would rush to stock up and there could also be logistical problems. Objections were voiced even within the ruling parties.

Merkel reversed the plan on Wednesday, calling the idea a mistake. She said the mistake was hers alone, and apologized for causing uncertainty.

Germany has seen a rapid resurgence of infections, with more than 70 percent of new cases caused by the variant first detected in Britain.

There is growing public frustration over the prolonged restrictions and delays in vaccinations.

The approval rating for the ruling coalition of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, has fallen below 30 percent, the lowest level in the past year.