Restaurant owners demand Merkel lifts lockdown

Making noise and setting up chairs and tables outside the state parliament in Duesseldorf, they described their economic situation as "a catastrophe" and predicted many restaurants and bars will go out of business if state aid does not arrive soon.

The manager of Berlin's tradition-steeped restaurant and bar Staendige Vertretung, or permanent mission in reference to an embassy, said his business had not yet received financial assistance for November and December.

"Now in March we are in our fifth lockdown month and including the first lockdown, that soon makes it more than seven months. We urgently need a plan when we're allowed to open again," said Joern Peter Brinkmann.

Later on Wednesday, Merkel is expected to announce a gradual easing of coronavirus curbs, seeking a balance between the needs of public health and the economy as the country also moves to speed up a sluggish vaccination campaign.