Coronavirus: Germany reopens shops as lockdown is relaxed

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AFP

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Chancellor Merkel is responsible for lifting the blockade for the 16 states of Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to reopen all stores as part of an agreement with the leaders of Germany's 16 states to ease restrictions on society.

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The general contact rules will continue for another month. Schools will gradually reopen this period and Bundesliga football will have the green light to restart.

The states agreed to take control of the timing of the reopening.

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They will operate an "emergency brake" if there is a further increase in infections.

A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is much broader.

Two families will be able to meet and eat together under the restriction of restrictions, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to receive visits from a specific person.

& # 39; Germany doing better than other countries & # 39;

"I think we can safely say that the first phase of the pandemic is behind us," said Chancellor Merkel. "But we need to be very aware that we are still in the early stages and we will be there for the long term."

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Bavarian leader Markus Söder said Germany is doing better than many other countries because it has adopted a good national and regional strategy and everyone has remained patient. The 1.5m social distance and hygiene were essential to keep the infection rate low, he said.

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Germany suffered less than 7,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic – a much smaller number than in other Western European countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a federal public health agency, recorded 165 deaths in the last 24 hours on Wednesday and about 947 new infections.

The infection rate has been consistently low for some time, and Merkel said she was very pleased with the number of new infections in three digits daily.

What was agreed?

The popular daily newspaper Bild announced on Wednesday that Germany was opening up again. And, in general terms, it was what was agreed.

Stores up to 800 square meters (8,600 feet) have already been authorized to open. All restrictions on stores will now be lifted, although masks must be worn and social distance maintained.

Schools have already started to open to older children; all students will be able to return to classes gradually during the summer period. "Children, quite rightly, want to return to their normal lives," said Merkel.

During Wednesday's negotiations, state leaders agreed to take responsibility for the consequences of the lifting of the blockade, which took effect on March 17.

Germany, like other countries, is suspicious of a second increase in infections. If new infections reach more than 50 people in every 100,000 in a district over a seven-day period, it will be up to the local authority in the affected area to re-enforce restrictions.

Some of the 16 states were less affected by the crisis; therefore, some are more eager to ease restrictions than others.

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Media captionBerlin has seen small protests against the blockade

Bavaria in the south plans to reopen restaurants on May 18, while Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the north plans to do so on Saturday.

The reopening of restaurants and hotels is seen as a particular risk, as it will increase the number of people traveling in Germany and increase infection rates.

A return to football

The German football league, the Bundesliga, was given the green light to start for the first time since March.

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EPA

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Bayern Munich is among the Bundesliga clubs that have returned to training

So-called ghost games without spectators can start again on May 15 or 21, as long as a two-week quarantine is established for players, in the form of a type of training ground. A decision on the date will be taken by the football authorities on Thursday.

The Bundesliga will be Europe's first major football league to resume after the pandemic. However, it is not without risk. Ten positive cases were revealed this week by the German football league in 1,724 tests in the two main divisions.

Not everyone was happy with the speed of reopening. The prime minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, accused "a whole line of colleagues of moving ahead with their own vacancies".

Meanwhile, tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss maintained the hope that the Germans could go on vacation this summer.

If the outbreak remained under control, he suggested that they leave in Germany and neighboring countries that had seen a similar drop in infections.

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