Almost all stores will be closed during the Easter period from April 1-5, and no more than five people over the age of 14 from two households can congregate. Grocery stores would only be allowed to open for one day, Saturday April 3.
The country’s general lockdown measures will also be extended until April 18, Merkel said. Germans have been living under varying levels of restrictions since mid-December.
The country’s public health authority on Tuesday reported 7,485 new infections and 250 deaths over a 24-hour period. The daily number of infections is 2,000 cases higher than it was a week ago. More than 108 out of 100,000 people are now infected every week.
“We know that the current emergency measures will not be enough to stop the exponential growth,” Merkel said after lengthy negotiations Monday evening in Berlin.
Germany has recorded more than 74,000 Covid-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, and Merkel said the country was experiencing a third wave of infections.
Its vaccination program, like many others in the European Union, has been hampered by supply shortages. UK and EU have been embroiled in new row over doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, bloc leader Ursula von der Leyen apparently threatening to prevent a batch of shots from a factory in the Netherlands to be exported to the UK.
CNN’s Angela Dewan and Samantha Beech contributed to this report.