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Coronavirus: Germany reopens shops as lockdown is relaxed


Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to reopen all shops as part of a deal with the leaders of Germany's 16 states to ease restrictions on society.

General contact rules will continue for another month. Schools will reopen gradually this term and Bundesliga football has been given the green light to restart.

The states have agreed to take control of timing the reopening.

They will operate an "emergency brake" if there is a new surge in infections.

A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader.

Two households will be able to meet and eat together under the easing of restrictions, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.

'Germany doing better than other countries'

"I think we can safely state that the first phase of the pandemic is behind us," Chancellor Merkel said. "But we need to be very much aware we are still in the early phases and we'll be in it for the long haul."

Bavarian leader Markus Söder said Germany was doing better than many other countries because it had adopted a good strategy nationally and regionally and everyone had remained patient. Social distancing of 1.5m (5ft) and hygiene were key to keeping the infection rate low, he said.

Germany has seen fewer than 7,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic - a much lower figure than seen in other Western European countries including the UK, Italy, France and Spain.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a federal public health body, reported 165 deaths in the past 24 hours on Wednesday and some 947 new infections.

The rate of infection has been consistently low for some time, and Mrs Merkel said she was very pleased that the number of new, daily infections was into three digits.


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