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Merkel says Germany’s re-opening will have ’emergency brake’ in case Covid-19 spikes

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Issued on: 07/05/2020 – 06:21Modified: 07/05/2020 – 06:20

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the coronavirus lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an "emergency brake" mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again.

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Declaring an end to the first phase of the pandemic in Germany, Merkel said there was still a long way to go in the battle against the virus, which has battered Europe's largest economy.

The government will decide on an economic stimulus package in June, Merkel said, adding this was a "very ambitious" time frame.

Germany went into lockdown in March to contain coronavirus contagion. Its reproduction rate has been falling for several days, and Merkel said it was now consistently below 1 – meaning a person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average.

Professional football part of Chancellor Merkel's reopening plan for Germany

"We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system…, so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures," Merkel told reporters.

Under measures agreed with Germany's 16 federal state leaders, people from two households will be allowed to meet, and more shops will open, provided hygiene measures are in place.

But guidelines on people keeping a distance of 1.5 metres (5 feet) from each other and wearing mouth and nose masks on public transport will remain in place.

Germany's Bundesliga soccer league can resume in the second half of May, Merkel said.

Schools would gradually start reintroducing all pupils and emergency care for kindergarten-aged children would be expanded, with details to be regulated by the states.

People in care homes may again receive regular visits from "a permanent contact person", Merkel said after talks with regional leaders.

Their plan includes an "emergency brake", a fail-safe under which restRead More – Source