Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans to slowly ease restrictions brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing rules will stay in place until at least May 3, with Merkel also recommending the use of face masks in shops and on public transport, the BBC reported on Wednesday. But as of next week shops under a certain size could open their doors.
And schools will gradually start to reopen from May 4. Merkel said the country had achieved “fragile intermediate success” through the strict measures.
The chancellor 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, cinemas and music venues will all remain closed.
According to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country has 127,584 confirmed cases and has reported 3,254 deaths.
Merkel’s announcement makes Germany the latest European nation to start easing restrictions.
Denmark has reopened schools and nurseries for children up to the age of 11.
Construction and manufacturing work is back under way in Spain Thousands of smaller shops in Austria reopened on Tuesday, and the country will allow outdoor sport such as tennis, golf and athletics from May 1.
Some regions in Italy have reopened bookshops 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. And 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 states, 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.
“It will be a great logistical effort and it needs very careful preparation,” she said