LATEST: Germany to extend coronavirus social distancing measures until May 10th

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LATEST: Germany to extend coronavirus social distancing measures until May 10th
wo people hang out with about 1.5 metre distance between them, while another couple sits close together, at the Karlshöhe park in Stuttgart on April 5th. Photo: DPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says Germany's 'ban on contact' measures will be extended.


Helge Braun told German broadcaster n-tv on Thursday that the 'no contact' measures, which include a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public (excluding families and household members) and 1.5 metres distance between people, would "certainly" remain in place for the time being until May 10th.

Leaders from Germany's 16 states are meeting with Merkel on Thursday April 30th to discuss further coronavirus plans.

The southern state of Bavaria, the worst-hit state in Germany, already announced on Tuesday April 28th that it was extending its coronavirus lockdown measures until Sunday May 10th.

Braun, of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), said a larger discussion about further steps to ease the shutdown in Germany would take place at the next summit on May 6th.

He said that the decision to relax restrictions depended on the development of infection numbers. "We cannot yet tell from the current figures whether there will be further openings," said Braun.


Merkel's chief of staff added that the development of the contact tracing app was extremely important going forward. "We need this as soon as possible," he said.

Current restrictions expire on May 3rd

Germany has been slowly easing out of lockdown over the past 10 days, with many shops reopening and plans for pupils to get back in the classroom.

But lots of businesses, including bars, gyms and hotels, remain closed. Restaurants are only allowed to open to provide takeaway food. 

The German government and states decided on April 15th to extend coronavirus restrictions up to and including May 3rd, while also putting together a plan to begin to ease the lockdown.

Death rate rising in Germany
On Thursday Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, appealed for people in Germany to continue to follow the measures.
He said this week there were about 1,000 to 1,500 new cases of coronavirus infections per day. This is a big difference compared to last week, when there were still about 2,000 new cases per day.
As of Thursday, there were over 161,500 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, according to figures from John Hopkins University. which reports a slightly higher number of figures than the RKI due to calculating data in real time throughout the day.
Of the confirmed cases there have been around 6,400 deaths and 123,500 people are reported to have recovered.
Wieler said the death rate in Germany had risen to 4 percent as the virus continues to take hold in care homes. The death rate is much lower compared to Spain, where it's currently 11.3 percent and in the UK where it's 13.5 percent.
The average age of those who've died in Germany is 81-years-old.
A total of 17 percent of all cases in Germany are treated in hospital. According to Wieler, 2.7 percent of people with coronavirus in Germany have developed pneumonia.
Wieler said the reproduction rate had dropped below the critical value of 1 to 0.76, meaning 10 people with coronavirus infect on average 7.5 others. Ministers and virologists have hammered home the importance of squeezing the number below 1.0.


Experts say the infection rate should not be taken out of context and "should only be looked at alongside other figures", but continue to warn against flouting coronavirus rules.


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