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6 May, 2020 18:12

‘First phase over but we’re only at the beginning’: Merkel eases German lockdown but warns world still at START of pandemic

‘First phase over but we’re only at the beginning’: Merkel eases German lockdown but warns world still at START of pandemic

Chancellor Angela Merkel has unveiled a further relaxation of Germany’s Covid-19 restrictions, allowing shops, restaurants, hotels, and gyms to reopen as the Bundesliga reveals plans to restart behind closed doors.

“We have passed the very first phase,” the chancellor said on Wednesday, “but are still at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Merkel warned that, despite easing some of the strictest measures, social distancing would still be enforced.

Power to control the restrictions was devolved to the leaders of Germany’s 16 states after they agreed to take on the responsibility following talks with the chancellor on Wednesday, so while the national ban on those establishments re-opening has been lifted, it falls to regional leaders to put the changes into effect.

Merkel confirmed shops would be allowed to re-open and that sport, including the Bundesliga, could recommence without crowds.

However, she added that social distancing measures would remain in place until at least June 5, with mass gatherings forbidden until the end of August – at the earliest.

Under the more relaxed rules, people from two separate households will be allowed to meet up and eat together, but masks covering the mouth and nose will still have to be worn on public transport.

Schools have already begun re-opening for older children, and it is expected that all pupils will be allowed to return gradually over the course of the summer term.

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