Shops, football return as Germany starts to reopen

Frankfurt, Germany, May 6 (efe-epa).- Germany has announced further easing of restrictions imposed to stem the outbreak of Covid-19 after chancellor Angela Merkel met with the leaders of the country’s 16 states on Wednesday.

All shops, regardless of size, will be allowed to reopen, residents of care homes will be allowed visitors, and members of two households will be permitted to meet in public, Merkel said at a press conference.

Zoos and museums will also be permitted to open their doors to the public.

“The very first phase of the pandemic is behind us,” she said while announcing the easing of the measures, but warned that the country remained in the “early phases of the pandemic, and will be in it for the long haul.”

Social distancing rules will remain in place until at least June 5 and people must continue to cover their nose and mouth when in public.

Businesses reopening must enforce strict distancing and hygiene rules, and events like festivals and concerts remain banned through to the end of August

Schools will be allowed to reopen in stages until the summer holidays, but universities must stay shut.

In most states, religious services will be permitted to resume.

The chancellor thanked German citizens for respecting the rules and listening to the advice of public health authorities.

She said Germany had reached a point “where we can say that we have reached the goal of slowing down the spread of the virus,” but warned that if infections increase above a certain threshold, the restrictions will be swiftly re-imposed.

Merkel also announced that matches in Germany’s top flight, the Bundesliga, as well as the second division, would be allowed to be played again as of mid-May.

No date has been set, but the first round of matches is expected to take place on either 15 or 21 May, but without any fans present in the stadiums.

“Today’s decision is good news for the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2,” Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL, said.

“Games without spectators are not an ideal solution for anyone. In a crisis threatening the very existence of some clubs, however, it is the only way to keep the leagues in their current form.”

Lower non-professional leagues as well as outdoor activities for children can also resume. EFE


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