With the latest “very satisfactory” infection figures, Germany decided on Wednesday to take further steps in deconfinement which, from schools to football, announce a gradual return to normal in May.
“The latest figures” on the development of the new coronavirus pandemic “are very satisfactory” greeted the Chancellor after a meeting with the regional leaders of the country.
“So we have reached a point where we can say that we have achieved the goal of slowing the spread of the virus,” Merkel said at a press conference.
Germany therefore plans to lift almost all of the restrictions imposed from mid-March on the largest European economy to curb contagion.
Notable exceptions: the closing of borders and the prohibition of major sporting, festive or cultural events with the public.
Green light for the Bundesliga
In the sports field, while in France he was arrested prematurely and the other European countries continue to question themselves, the German football championship will be able to resume from mid-May.
The meetings will take place behind closed doors. In particular, they will allow clubs to collect 300 million euros in TV rights.
This recovery must however be preceded by a week of quarantine in a training camp, according to a protocol defined by the Football League.
Beyond this, the agreement provides for the reopening from next week of all stores, including those of more than 800 square meters, which were still closed. , and all schools.
This concerns primary schools and kindergartens, which have not yet been affected by the deconfinement that began in this country on 20 April.
Protective measures must however be put in place in these establishments.
The way is also clear for the gastronomy and hotel sector, affected by the impact of the coronavirus. Depending on the region, it will start operating again next week.
“We must always be aware that we are still at the beginning of the pandemic and that we still have a long way to go to fight the virus”, however warned Mrs Merkel.
Faced with the risk of a second wave, deemed “certain” by virologists, Germany will set up a reconfiguration system if the infections start to rise again.
This will however be done very locally, by canton, city, or even by establishment when it is a retirement home or a residential building, and no longer as so far generally for a region or the whole country.
The trigger threshold for this reconfiguration is fixed at 50 infections on average for 100 000 inhabitants over a period of seven days per zone.
The obligation to respect a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters is also extended until June 5.
Germany also intends to rely on a tracking application which will, on a voluntary basis, alert its users in contact with an infected person. Data will only be stored on users' devices and will be kept for three weeks.
Government and regions have also decided that the source code of the application will be made public to allay the concerns.
This normalization with no load in Germany is also the result of the increasing pressures of the opinion, the economic world and the regions on Angela Merkel, who for several weeks tried to slow down the movement by invoking the risk of a resurgence of the epidemic.
After being praised for managing the health crisis and much lower mortality in neighboring countries – which has increased its popularity at its zenith -, the Chancellor has been facing strong headwinds since the end of April.
She was accused, by her prudence, of needlessly suffocating the national economy and of encroaching on individual freedoms.
“Every week of closure costs the German economy” tens of billions of euros, warned the boss of the industrial federation BDI, Dieter Kempf.
Demonstrations have started to spread across the country.
And a new movement, “Resistance 2020”, claims to have attracted in about a few weeks 100. 000 members. He plans to present candidates for election next year.