Home World Europe News Coronavirus: Germany Announces Gradual Loosening of Lockdown Measures

Coronavirus: Germany Announces Gradual Loosening of Lockdown Measures


Germany is slowly easing restrictions brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced.

Social distancing rules will stay in place until at least May 3, with the chancellor also recommending the use of face masks in shops and on public transport.

However, as of next week stores under a certain size could open their doors.

Schools will gradually start to reopen from May 4.

Angela Merkel said Germany had achieved “fragile intermediate success” through the strict measures.

She said the country “must keep focused and keep going”, adding that they “do not have a lot of room for manoeuvre”.

Large public gatherings including religious services will remain banned until August 31. Bars, cafes, restaurants, theaters and music venues will all remain closed.

According to Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany has 127,584 confirmed cases and has reported 3,254 deaths.

Angela Merkel’s announcement makes Germany the latest European nation to start easing restrictions.

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Denmark has reopened schools and nurseries for children up to the age of 11.

In Spain, construction and manufacturing work is back under way.

In Austria, thousands of smaller shops reopened on April 14, and the country will allow outdoor sport such as tennis, golf and athletics from May 1.

In Italy, some regions have reopened bookstores and children’s clothing stores.

France, however, has extended its lockdown measures for four more weeks until May 11. Belgium will maintain its restrictions until at least May 3.

In Russia, veterans groups have called for President Vladimir Putin to postpone the World War Two 75th anniversary victory parade planned for May 9, because of the risk it could pose to participants.

After a video conference with the heads of Germany’s 16 lands, Chancellor Merkel announced the gradual loosening of the strict lockdown measures.

Schools can reopen “gradually and very slowly” after May 4, she said, with new safety measures for breaks and school buses, and priority given to those students with exams.

She said: “It will be a great logistical effort and it needs very careful preparation.”

Stores of up to 800 square meters (8,600 sq ft) could be able to restart their businesses from Monday, provided they have “plans to maintain hygiene”, the chancellor said.

Car dealers, bike stores and bookstores can all reopen, regardless of their size. Hairdressers will be allowed to open their doors from May 4, provided they too comply with strict hygiene measures.

Angela Merkel strongly recommended people don protective face masks while shopping and while taking public transport, saying this “will help to protect other people”.

It makes Germany the latest country to issue guidance on face masks in public – although Chancellor Merkel did not make it mandatory.

German economy, the Europe’s biggest, entered a recession in March, its economy ministry said, citing “collapsing global demand, interruption of supply chains, changes in consumer behavior and uncertainty among investors”.

Last month, the German government passed a stimulus package worth €750bn ($816 billion) in a bid to help ease the effect of the coronavirus.