Merkel wants to extend COVID-19 restrictions until May

German government proposes extending lockdown measures, but allowing small shops to reopen, according to local media


Germany’s federal government is planning to extend coronavirus lockdown measures until next month, but will allow some small shops to reopen, local media reported on Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel would propose premiers of federal states this afternoon to extend most of the restrictions on public life until at least May 3, but would suggest allowing small shops to reopen beginning from April 20, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Her proposal envisages easing restrictions for small shops and stores with less than 800 square meters on condition that they would adhere to social distancing and hygiene rules, but restaurants and cafes will remain closed, according to the German daily.

Merkel is holding a video conference with premiers of sixteen federal states on Wednesday afternoon in order to discuss a gradual relaxing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Ahead of the conference, Armin Laschet, premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, called for setting out a clear lockdown exit strategy.

Markus Soder, Bavarian state premier, turned down calls for reopening schools beginning from next week.

The German government imposed strict lockdown measures last month, ordering all non-essential shops to close, canceling festivals, sports events, and banning any social contact among more than two people in public.

Border controls extended

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has announced on Wednesday that border checks with five neighbouring countries, Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark, were extended until May 4.

Travelers without a valid reason were not allowed to cross the border.

Germany has the fifth-highest tally of reported COVID-19 infections in the world, ranking behind the U.S., Spain, Italy, and France.

The country’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 3,502 on Wednesday, surpassing those reported by China, where the pandemic began in December.

But the rate of new infections has continued to slow down, and remained below 3,000 for a third consecutive day.

The number of people infected with the virus stand at 132,321, according to data analysis firm Risklayer and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which compile real-time figures from nearly 400 local authorities.

Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, has reported that nearly 72,600 people have recovered from the virus so far.

The novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe now the hardest-hit areas.

More than 2 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll at more than 128,000 and over half a million recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.

Anadolu / Balkantimes.press

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