European countries are tightening quarantine restrictions amid a third wave of coronavirus

“We are in a new pandemic” due to the spread of coronavirus variants, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. German federal and state leaders have agreed on a radical shutdown over the Easter holidays.

Germany is extending the current lockdown through to April 18, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Tuesday.

The country will enter an even stricter lockdown from April 1 to April 5, over the Easter holiday period when shops, including grocery stores, will largely have to close.

Merkel warned that Germany needed to “break the exponential growth of the third wave.” Case numbers have reached levels that authorities say will overburden intensive care units.

Tuesday’s announcement marks a reversal from earlier this month when state leaders agreed to begin a cautious reopening process.

Talks between leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states and Merkel lasted until the early hours of the morning following a lengthy interruption.

“We are in a very, very serious situation” due to the spread of coronavirus variants in the country, Merkel told the press conference.

“What we have is essentially a new pandemic,” she said. The new virus is “significantly more deadly, significantly more infectious.”

The number of confirmed cases in Germany on Monday increased by 7,709 to 2,667,225, while the death toll rose by 50 to 74,714.

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