Germany eases coronavirus measures as first phase of pandemic passes

Germany eases coronavirus measures as first phase of pandemic passes

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Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday announced a range of steps agreed with Germany's 16 federal state leaders to ease the coronavirus lockdown, saying the first phase of the pandemic had passed, although there was still a long way to go.

“We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures,” Merkel told reporters.

According to officials people from two households will be allowed to meet and more shops will open, provided hygiene measures are in place, but guidelines on keeping a distance of 1.5 meters and wearing mouth and nose masks on public transport remain.

Germany went into lockdown in March but its coronavirus reproduction rate has been drifting down for several days, leading to pressure from regional governments and business groups for restrictions to be relaxed.

Merkel pointed out that social distancing measures designed to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus will remain until June 5.

Germany will allow all students back to school this month, all shops to reopen and even restart the top-flight football league, Bundesliga.

Football in the country’s top two divisions will be able to resume without spectators and with a range of other conditions designed to prevent another outbreak. Players will be tested and teams will also have to spend time in quarantine before games can restart.

The earliest the league can resume is May 16. The German football league is to hold a general meeting with the country’s 36 professional clubs in the top two divisions via video link Thursday.

The Bundesliga was suspended with nine rounds remaining on March 13. The clubs had committed to finishing the season by the end of June.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 947 to 164,807, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 165 to 6,996, the tally showed.

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