Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the country was “in a new pandemic” with the British mutant Covid strain ripping across it. She said Germany was in a “very serious” situation and scrambling to get vaccinations done. The German leader told a news conference: “We are now basically in a new pandemic.
“The British mutation has become dominant.”
She added: “The situation is serious.
“Case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive care beds are filling up again.”
Mrs Merkel urged people to stay at home over the Easter period in a bid to get Covid infection rates down.
Under the new restrictions, social gatherings will be limited between April 1-5, meaning no more than five adults from two households can meet at once.
For most of that time, only food shops will be allowed to open and churches will be asked to hold services online.
The decision to lockdown Germany was taken at a video conference of regional and national leaders.
Ahead of the gathering, the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases reported that coronavirus infections had passed a key marker.
On Monday, the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants hit 107, above the 100 threshold at which is is considered that Germany’s intensive care units will no longer be able to cope.
Today, Germany recorded 7,500 new cases and 250 more deaths.
As a result of the soaring cases, Mrs Merkel and the leaders of the country’s 16 states agreed to pause the planned reopening of the economy.
Bars, restaurants, leisure and cultural venues will remain shut until April 18 at the earliest.
The federal government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is now being questioned by voters ahead of September’s national election.
Support for Mrs Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc has slumped to its lowest in a year amid growing anger at its response to the health crisis.
A poll for broadcaster RTL found that support for the Chancellor’s group had fallen to 29 percent, the lowest since last March.