The German chancellor warned that while the coronavirus’ “first phase is over…we still have a long fight ahead of us.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her much-anticipated press conference on Wednesday by thanking the country for observing social distancing rules to help drastically slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, she warned that “the very first phase of the pandemic is over, but we are still at the overall beginning of the pandemic, and we still have a long fight against the virus ahead of us.”
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She also cautioned that should infection rates spread to more than 50 acute cases per 100,000 people in a given area, new lockdowns would be put in place.
While more sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen, they will only be allowed to do so if hygiene and social distancing rules are enforced — this will continue until at least June 5.
The relaxed regulations include:
- All shops may reopen as long as the rules about wearing protective masks and keeping customers at a 1.5-meter distance from one another is maintained.
- Germany’s soccer league, the Bundesliga, will be allowed to resume games in the second half of May, as long as games are played behind closed doors.
- Schools will reopen in phases, though most universities will continue with distance learning.
- In most states, religious services will resume.
- Seniors in care homes in some states will be allowed to receive at least one visitor provided there is no active COVID-19 case in the facility, and in some cases, only if the visitors are older than 16.
- People may meet with members of one other household in public, but only if they keep at 1.5-meter distance from one another.
A date for the reopening of cinemas, theaters, and restaurants remains unclear. The chancellor said each of Germany’s16 states was reviewing rules for restarting these parts of the economy. So far, only Bavaria has announced plans to reopen restaurants, under strict conditions, on May 18.
Following Merkel’s announcement, much of the responsibility for determining the next stages of the lockdown will be handed down to the individual federal states rather than united under a strict national strategy.