German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of Germany’s 16 states have decided to allow some stores to open as early as next week.
Social distancing will be however mandatory and will stay in place until May 4. Starting on Monday, shops with a sales area up to 800 square meters are allowed to reopen. The government “strongly recommends” wearing masks while using public transportation or shopping for groceries. Some schools will gradually reopen on May 4. Events that draw crowds will be strictly prohibited until Aug. 31 and will be subject to crowdsize restrictions. As of Wednesday, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute reported 132,000 conﬁrmed infections since the outbreak. On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the imposed restrictions were necessary but came at an “enormous price.” Rolling back lockdown measures is only slowly accepted.
Other European countries took some steps. . On Monday, Austria opened some small businesses. Spain began allowing some non-essential workers to return to their jobs. Construction workers as well as those working at businesses which sell hygiene products and pet food, dry cleaners and hairdressers have been given the green light to go back to work. Some stores are allowed to open in Italy but not yet in Lombardy.