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Coronavirus: Germany extends social distancing restrictions until April 19

  • April 01, 2020

Germany’s social distancing measures have been extended through the end of the Easter holiday break, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday following a call with state leaders.

The extension, which now keeps the restrictions in place until at least April 19, was agreed during a conference call between Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states.

Read more: What are Germany’s social distancing rules?

“A pandemic doesn’t take a vacation,” Merkel said announcing the decision. The restrictions were initially due to end on April 5.

Speaking earlier in the day, Merkel said it would be far worse to lift the restrictions too early.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Food donations drop

    Panic-buying has left empty shelves in supermarkets — and food banks. With Germans snapping up canned goods and toilet paper to weather the outbreak, stores have fewer supplies left over to donate to the needy, said Jochen Brühl, head of Tafel Deutschland, which supports more than 1.5 million people with surplus groceries and other donations. Brühl encouraged those who had overreacted to donate.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Bundesliga suspended

    After playing one match behind closed doors, the Bundesliga has suspended its season until at least April 2. The Germany football league had considered playing matches behind closed doors until Paderborn’s coach Steffen Baumgart and defender Luca Kilian tested positive for COVID-19.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Cultural cancellations

    Cultural life has also taken a hit, with major fairs and trade shows canceled or postponed. Among the casualties were the Leipzig Book Fair and the Musikmesse Frankfurt, Europe’s biggest music trade fair. Numerous clubs, galleries and museums have closed across the country, and the gala award show for the annual German film and television award, the Goldene Kamera, has been moved to November.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Not the ‘Wuhan flu’

    The Chinese origin of the virus has led to an increase in xenophobic sentiment in the places worst hit by the outbreak. Asian restaurants and stores — not just Chinese — have reported empty tables in countries hard hit by the pandemic, and people with Asian features have experienced discrimination. At a recent Bundesliga game in Leipzig, a group of Japanese fans was ejected from the stadium.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Flights grounded

    German airline Lufthansa has massively reduced its flight capacity as business and personal travel is cut back. The flagship carrier is now seeking state aid, according to a report from Germany business newspaper Handelsblatt. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr will be attending a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to government sources.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Car production crippled

    Car plants in China have been shut down since January, and major German automakers like Volkswagen and Daimler have said both sales and production have been hit by the epidemic. And with many automakers sourcing electric car parts from China, work at plants in Germany has also hit a stumbling block. Berlin has said it plans to financially support companies suffering coronavirus losses.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Fewer tourists

    “The consequences for the German tourism sector are serious,” warned Guido Zöllick, head of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. Already by the second week of March, 76.1% of members had reported a sharp decrease in bookings and a drop in revenue. The German parliament has banned tourists from visiting the glass dome of the Reichstag building until further notice.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    Border checks

    In an effort to prevent further spread, Germany has closed its borders with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark. Authorities in Poland and the Czech Republic had already begun spot checks, measuring the temperature of travelers crossing main road borders out of Germany.

  • How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?

    School closures

    Preschools and primary schools across Germany have shut. The closures have affected more than 2.2 million children up to age 16 countrywide, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office. German television stations have adjusted their programming in response to the school closures.

    Author: Martin Kuebler

She said it was currently “much too early to think about loosening the restrictions.”

“It would be much worse to do it too early, and we are still very far away from what we need to achieve,” the chancellor added.

Germany’s population fo over 82 million has been called on to “reduce contact with other people except for members of their own household to an absolute minimum in keeping with the existing rules, including during the Easter holidays,” according to a transcript of the call seen by news agency DPA.

Easter ‘has to be different this year’

Residents have also been called on to forego private trips and visits with relatives during the Easter school break — which end for most states on April 19.

The restrictions also apply to church services. The chancellor noted that she understands that the Easter holidays are usually a time spent with families and for taking day trips or longer vacations.

“That has to be different this year,” Merkel said.

The current restrictions in Germany will be reviewed again on April 14, the Tuesday after Easter, Merkel said.

The chancellor also voiced her support for efforts to develop a coronavirus tracking app to help monitor those who get infected and inform others about needing to potentially get tested.

Read more: Coronavirus and mental health: We are not made for social isolation

No obligation to wear masks

According to the call transcript, the federal and state governments agreed that people should not be required to wear face masks in public to stem the spread of the virus.

However, wearing a mask also does not mean that the person is absolved from observing the other social distancing restrictions.

The current measures ban public gatherings of more than two people, with exceptions for families and people who live in the same apartment or house. Residents have also been called on to keep at least a 1.5 (4.9 foot) distance to others when out in public.

Merkel said that the federal and state governments are working on increasing the number of face masks available for nursing homes as well as for facilities for people with disabilities.

Neighboring Austria implemented a mask requirement on Wednesday for everyone entering grocery stores.

The current restrictions in Germany will be reviewed again on April 14, the Tuesday after Easter, Merkel said.

rs/sms (dpa, AFP)

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