Germany set to reopen all shops and schools in May

Germany set to reopen all shops and schools in May
A teacher holds a 'welcome back' sign at a school in Schleswig-Holstein on May 6th. Photo: DPA
Germany will take new steps towards normalisation in May, including reopening shops and schools after weeks of shutdown imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to a draft agreement.

“Even after initial steps to open up were introduced from April 20th, the number of new infections remained low,” the document read, with “no new wave of infection” so far detected – justifying the series of bolder reopening steps.

So far, only certain children like those soon facing exams had been allowed to return to class.

But now kindergartens and primary schools will also reopen from next week.

“Step-by-step, schools should make possible education of all pupils while implementing appropriate hygiene measures and upholding distancing rules,” the document read.

Meanwhile, the government plans to allow Germany's Bundesliga to restart in May, and will set an exact date at a teleconference on Wednesday, May 6th.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers from Germany's 16 federal states are expected to sign off on the text later Wednesday.

There have been a total of around 167,000 coronavirus infections in Germany so far, with around 6,990 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. A total of 135,200 people are reported to have recovered from Covid-19.

States will make own decisions

According to the draft document, it will be up to the individual regions to decide how to proceed with reopening universities.

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Regarding shops, the politicians said all could reopen but requirements “for hygiene, managing entry and avoiding queues forming” would be imposed.

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

States will also have a free hand over whether to reopen restaurants beginning on May 9th, as well as on decisions affecting theatres, concert halls, nightclubs and gyms.

Meanwhile the one major coronavirus restriction set to remain in place – likely for several months – is a ban on large gatherings like sports matches, cultural events or festivals.

Such events will remain forbidden until “at least August 31st”, according to the text.

What's more, lockdown measures will be reimposed if the number of coronavirus infections begins to mount again.

If more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants are detected within seven days, the affected city or district must impose “a corresponding  lockdown plan”.

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In case of a “localised and clearly containable infection pattern” – such as in a single institution like an old people's home — the measures could be limited only to the specific place affected, rather than a whole region.

The government also includes a general call for Germans to continue to maintain a safe distance from one another and wear masks in shops and on public transport.

More infections expected in future

Experts have warned there could be further waves of infection.

On Tuesday May 5th, Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute for disease control said he assumed “there will be a second and third wave of infection”.

Wieler said the development of infections in Germany gave hope but the number of deaths was “still high”.

He said Germany was further increasing testing capacities.

 So far, 2.4 million lab tests have been carried out in Germany. Of these, 7.2 percent have been positive. “142,000 tests in 132 laboratories are possible per day,” Wieler said.

Wieler said he did not foresee any problems with patients being able to access intensive care in Germany if needed.

“With the current dynamics, it must be clearly stated: no shortages are predicted,” he said.


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