Merkel announces lockdown exit plan to reopen schools, shops in Germany

Germany’s relatively low death rate from the coronavirus has been attributed to its fast response with testing and isolating – and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s just-announced strategy for eventually exiting the lockdown may offer a blueprint for other nations, according to reports.

After meeting Wednesday with the 16 state governors, Merkel described the control of the virus’ spread as a “fragile intermediate success” and announced the first steps in the lockdown exit strategy, according to Yahoo Finance.

Europe’s biggest economy plans to allow smaller stores to reopen next week after a weeks-long shutdown and to begin reopening schools in early May, but the country is keeping strict social-distancing rules in place for now.

Merkel said a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public and an obligation to keep at a five-foot distance from others will remain in effect after Sunday, when it was previously set to expire.

Major gatherings won’t be permitted through Aug. 31.

Nonessential stores will be allowed to start reopening, with hygiene precautions, if they are up to 8,600 square feet in area – as will auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops, regardless of their size.

The measures apply to the period from Monday through May 3, Merkel said, and officials will review the situation again on April 30.

The chancellor also said authorities also will recommend that people wear face masks on public transportation and when shopping, but are not making their use obligatory for the moment.

She said preparations also will be made for schools, which have been shuttered since mid-March, to reopen gradually from May 4, with the oldest students returning first.

GERMANY-HEALTH-VIRUSThe spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in SinsheimThe spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in KleinmachnowSpread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin

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