Germany to extend social distancing until after Easter

German Chancellor Merkel addresses a news conference on coronavirus in Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a news conference on coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Germany will extend social distancing measures introduced last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus until after April 19 and re-evaluate the situation after Easter, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

Germany has closed schools, shops, restaurants, playgrounds and sports facilities and many companies have stopped production to help slow the spread of the disease but the numbers are still rising.

“We are seeing some small effect (from the measures) but we are far from where we need to be,” Merkel told reporters after a telephone conference with the premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states.

Merkel thanked Germans for mostly complying with rules and said she wanted to avoid re-opening everything too early only to have to row back. She also implored people not to travel over the Easter period.

“We know that a pandemic does not take account of the holidays,” she said.

With Germany’s council of economic advisers warning the virus could trigger a 5.4% contraction in Europe’s biggest economy this year, the government has announced a stimulus package worth more than 750 billion euros to mitigate the blow.

Latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Wednesday showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 67,366 with 732 deaths.

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