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    Coronavirus: Germany relaxes lockdown measures

    Germany will reopen small stores as of Monday. Credit: Pixabay

    Stores smaller than 800 square metres will be allowed to reopen in Germany as of Monday as the country phases out of its lockdown.

    The rules will vary between regions, but car dealerships, bicycle shops and book shops will all be allowed to open again, as well as zoos in some regions. Meanwhile, places such as bars, restaurants and larger stores will remain closed.

    Additionally, final-year high school students preparing for exams will be allowed to go to school again in Saxony, Berlin and Brandenburg. Other regions will reopen schools later this week under similar restrictions, and some will wait until May.

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    The coronavirus pandemic is “under control and manageable” in Germany, as Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Friday as the country reached a rate of infection – in other words, the average number of people to be infected by one coronavirus patient – of less than one. Germany counted 139,897 confirmed cases and 4,294 dead as of 19 April.

    Despite stores reopening, “we won’t be able to live our old life for a long time,” said Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet.

    Meanwhile, Belgium extended its lockdown on 15 April, with all businesses deemed non-essential remaining closed until at least 3 May. Garden centres and do-it-yourself stores are an exception to this rule. Belgium counted 38,496 confirmed cases since Sunday and saw a first drop in hospitalisations.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times