Germany to Reopen Markets and Schools, Accelerated Return to Normality

Germany to Reopen Markets and Schools, Accelerated Return to Normality

Germany could soon see all shops reopen and all students return to school in stages. The mooted changes would curtail Germany’s mainly nationwide approach to restrictions, restoring an even freer hand to the states.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has agreed on further plans to ease Germany’s COVID-19 lockdown ahead of talks on the matter with state leaders, according to draft documents seen by several news agencies.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference after the video conference with the prime ministers of the German states, in Berlin, Thursday April 30, 2020. Image Source: AP

The documents seen by several news agencies, dated late on May 5, were prepared by federal chancellery chief Helge Braun and the heads of the regional chancelleries for a telephone conference Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold with premiers of the 16 states later on Wednesday.

Based on infection levels, states will decide on their own about a gradual opening of universities, restaurants, bars, hotels, trade fairs, cosmetic studios, brothels, theatres, fitness studios, cinemas and discos all under absolute hygiene and distancing concepts, said the draft. States will also decide on limiting contact between people.

So far only shops up to a floor space of 800 square metres (8,600 square feet) had been authorised to resume sales. Image Source: AFP

The agreement signals a further dilution of Germany’s largely uniform and nationwide restrictions — handing more responsibility on the matter back to individual states. States are individually responsible for such legislation anyway under Germany’s federal system, but in recent weeks, regional leaders had agreed to follow national guidelines on core aspects of the lockdown.

The plan is for this threshold to be set at “more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within the last seven days” in districts. If there is a limited outbreak, such as in a nursing home, restrictions might only be applied there, the draft showed.

“If there is a dispersed regional outbreak and infection chains are unclear, general restrictions, such as those in force in Germany before April 20, must be consistently reintroduced regionally,” the draft says. It added that this would include restricting travel to and from these regions.

A sign at a shopping gallery asks visitors to wear face masks in Muenster, western Germany, Thursday, April 30, 2020. Image Source: AP

Germany has been more successful than other large European countries in slowing the virus’ spread. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has increased by 947 to 164,807, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 165 to 6,996.

Several states in Germany already started issuing their plans for relaxing measures this week, including reopening restaurants and hotels throughout May, although the timetables differ.

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Although the ban on significant public events will remain in place, soccer fans may be able to look forward to watching Bundesliga matches at home again soon.

Bundesliga games are expected to be allowed to take place starting on May 15 or May 21, although fans will not be allowed in stadiums. Politicians believe restarting play in the first and second divisions to “limit the economic damage” for the 36 clubs is “acceptable,” the document showed.

Tags : Angela Merkelcoronavirus diseaseCOVID-19covid19germanyGlobal Pandemic

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