This is the live blog for April 15, 2020.

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Non-German native speakers have a hard time to stay on top of the news concerning the development of the situation of CoViD-19 specifically in Germany. Because of that, we curate a live blog in English for all people living in Germany. The information published on this site is translated from German and based on the live blog of Tagesschau.

We are using the combination of custom-trained machine translation models and expert linguists to provide these translations.  

We are live-translating between 09:00 am CEST and 17:30 pm CEST

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Short Facts

  • Major events may be prohibited until August 31
  • No general mask obligation - but "recommendation"
  • Retailers up to 800 sqm open again from Monday
  • Contact restrictions could be extended until at least 3rd May.
  • RKI reports 285 deaths in Germany within one day.
  • Number of companies that have registered short-time work rises to 725,000
  • Austria again allows several different types of sport
  • US President Trump stops payments to WHO

20:21 That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

From now on, please head over to Tagesschau to follow the updates (German only).

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18:06 Angela Merkel gives press conference: Measures extended until May 03rd

Read the English transcript here

17:58 Harvest worker from Romania dies after being infected by the coronavirus

Following the death of a harvest helper in Bad Krozingen near Freiburg, the responsible public health department is investigating the man's surroundings. According to a report in the news magazine "Spiegel", the 57-year-old man, who was born in Romania, was infected with the coronavirus and died last week in Bad Krozingen. When asked, a spokesperson for the health department said that people with whom the man had contact were now being sought. This is the usual practice in coronavirus cases. This protective measure should prevent a further spread of the coronavirus. According to the report, the man had already been employed as a harvest helper in agriculture in Southern Germany since March.

17:54 800-square-meter border runs right through the city center

It was decided during the federal government's consultations with the federal states, to reopen smaller shops from Monday. This will only be allowed for all shops with less than 800-square-meters floor space. The shops will be allowed to reopen on conditions of hygiene, access control and avoiding queues forming. The German Retail Association had warned against initially opening only small shops just before the decision by the federal and state governments. There is an 800-square-meter boundary running right through the city center, it said. Medium-sized clothing stores and electronics retailers, for example, would continue to be closed, while shoe shops and household goods stores, for example, are allowed to reopen.

17:46 Great Britain: Nearly 13,000 CoViD-19 deaths

Another 761 people have died in hospitals within 24 hours after being infected by the coronavirus in Great Britain. This means that the increase has slowed down somewhat compared to the previous day, the British Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday. 778 new corona deaths were reported on Tuesday. This means that a total of 12,868 people have died in the UK so far after being infected by the coronavirus.

17:28 Saarland: Comprehensive coronavirus tests in nursing homes

Saarland wants to test all residents as well as the entire staff of nursing and retirement homes for coronavirus. The Ministry of Health announced that it with the Virological Institute of the University Hospital in Homburg, has developed a concept for this purpose. According to the concept, nursing home residents are to be tested twice with a weekly interval and the nursing staff twice a week.

17:10 More than two million coronavirus cases worldwide

According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of proven infections with the novel coronavirus worldwide has exceeded the two million mark. The Sars-CoV-2 virus, which was practically completely unknown until just over three months ago, can trigger the lung disease CoViD-19. More than 128,000 corona deaths have already been recorded worldwide as a result of the pandemic according to the university.

17:03 Hassel: First school opening from 4 May

The head of the ARD broadcaster’s capital city studio, Tina Hassel, reports on the federal government's negotiations with the federal states. There is an agreement to reopen retail trade as of Monday according to the report. This applies to stores up to 800 square meters. There is still a dispute about schools. Hassel said that an initial opening could take place starting May 4. The results from today are valid for two weeks.

16:54 Spain: Stay down a year: "only in exceptional circumstances”

The approximately 8.2 million students in Spain can be happy: With very few exceptions, they will move up to the next grade this year, regardless of their grades, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. During a video conference between the Minister of Education Isabel Celaá and the responsible representatives of all regions, it was decided that the school year would end in June as planned, despite the crisis, the Ministry of Education announced in Madrid. The decisions apply to all school types and years, but not to the universities.

16:52 dpa: School start on 4 May

Schooling in Germany is scheduled to begin on 4 May, starting with the final classes, the classes that will take exams next year and the top primary school classes. Upcoming examinations can be taken before then. The federal and state governments agreed on this on Wednesday, as the German Press Agency learned.

16:50 G20: Debt moratorium for poorest countries

The G20 countries have agreed to a debt moratorium for the world's poorest countries because of the coronavirus pandemic. "We support a temporary suspension of debt repayments for the poorest countries," declared the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 group. "All bilateral official creditors will participate in this initiative."

16:48 No major events until the end of August?

Major events are to be banned in principle until 31 August due to the coronavirus pandemic - football matches are also affected. This is reported by both dpa and the "Bild" newspaper. Precise regulations, such as the size of the events, are to be made by the federal states.

16:39 Iran: Almost twice as many coronavirus deaths

Almost twice as many people in Iran have died as a result of a coronavirus infection than officially reported according to a parliamentary report. The death toll, released by the Ministry of Health, only included patients who died in hospitals and who had been tested positive for sars-CoV-2. This was stated in a footnote to the parliamentary research center's report, which was published on the internet.

Victims of coronavirus who died at home were not included and no offensive testing was carried out, the footnote on page six of the 46-page report said. The true death toll is probably 80 percent higher than the official death toll.

The country officially reports 4777 deaths from 76,389 confirmed cases of infection.

16:14 Apparently no general duty to wear facemasks is planned

The federal and state governments want to "urgently" recommend the wearing of everyday facemasks in public transport and the retail trade in the fight against coronavirus according to dpa information. However, there should not be a general nationwide duty to wear facemasks.

16:08 Hassel: School openings controversial

How are the consultations going? Tina Hassel, head of the ARD broadcaster’s capital city studio, is observing Merkel's talks with the State Premiers. According to her assessment, the question of school openings is particularly controversial at the moment. A majority of the State Premiers are apparently in favor of a start with older pupils and the final classes of primary schools.

15:54 Contactless payments up to 50 euro possible

From now on, there will be a higher limit on contactless payments using a bank card. The original limit of EUR 25 for consumers is increased, making payments up to EUR 50 possible without entering a pin. This was announced by the German Credit Industry. Banks and savings banks want to support contactless payments as a hygienic option in times of corona.

The payment systems will be gradually converted. From coming Wednesday, the higher limit will first apply with merchants in Hamburg, Kassel, Frankfurt, and Munich. The new limit value will then be introduced in the entire country over the coming weeks and months.

15:45 Massive breakdown US industry

The decline in US industrial production in March is the strongest since 1946. The spread of the corona crisis to the US has also heavily affected production. Total production fell by 5.4 percent in a monthly comparison, according to the Federal Reserve. Analysts had expected a decline of 4.0 percent. In February, production fell by 0.5 percent (corrected for the extra day).

15:36 More official Covid-19 deaths in New York City

In the metropolis of New York City, many more people might have died of Covid-19 than previously assumed. The largest city on the East Coast of the US has added 3,778 "likely" Covid-19 deaths to their corona death toll statistics. This puts the total number of deaths in New York City at more than 10,000. The additional deaths include, among others, sick people who had died in an emergency room, at home, or in a care facility, but were not officially tested for the virus.

15:27 Thousands of harvest workers sign up for duty

Over 1,500 farms with 23,500 harvest workers have now registered for work in Germany on a platform of the Farmers’ Association, of which 16,500 for April and 7,000 for May. In these two months, a Federal Government regulation stipulates that a total of 80,000 workers can be brought to the country under strict health-related conditions. The President of the Association Mr. Rukwied said to the "Rheinische Post" that: "The farms are workable". However, the development in the second half of the year is still unclear. A second crucial period will follow with the fruit and wine harvest in September and October. "The seasonal workers we now have available certainly will not be enough then."

15:19 725,000 companies apply for reduced hours

The number of companies applying for reduced hours for employees as a result of the restrictions caused by the pandemic has risen to around 725,000 by Easter Monday, an increase of twelve percent within a week, reports the Federal Employment Agency (BA). However, the number of people affected by reduced hour policies cannot yet be determined.

15:17 Spain: Hours of 3.9 million workers reduced

In Spain, almost 3.9 million people are working reduced hours because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Head of Government Pedro Sanchez in a press conference at parliament in Madrid. In addition, nearly a million self-employed people have applied for state aid. On March 14th, the Spanish government imposed strict restrictions, to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, while at the same time facilitating access to reduced-hour compensation to secure jobs.

14:52 France: Bonus for health workers

France wants to pay a special bonus to health care personnel. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that there would be 1500 euros for each of the exceptionally affected areas. Staff in less affected départements that have taken in patients from other regions will also receive a bonus at that amount. The remaining staff will receive 500 euros.

14:51 Federal and state consultations start coronavirus consultations

The Federal Government and the German States have begun consultations about further proceedings. Using a video conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the State Premiers of the federal states want to discuss, among other things, possible steps to reopen schools and day-care centers that have been closed for a month.

14:41 EU Parliament supports homeless people and helpers

The EU Parliament's kitchens are currently cooking 1000 meals a day for the homeless, needy, and health workers. EU Parliament President David Sassoli called the new initiative a "good example" of the institution's community spirit. The meals are being distributed in cooperation with three Belgian aid organizations. EU officials have been encouraged to work from home since mid-March. A large number of offices are therefore empty.

14:38 IMF expects a huge increase in debt

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expecting a huge increase in debt worldwide. According to the IMF, the exact amount will above all depend on the duration of the crisis. It is also important how quickly and strongly the economy will recover once the health situation stabilizes. The IMF currently estimates the direct financial impact at 3.3 trillion dollars per year; for higher spending in the health care system and aid for companies and private households. Further trillions would be added for loans and guarantees.

14:28 EU strategy for the progressive lifting of restrictions

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel recommend a step-by-step approach to lifting coronavirus restrictions. A notification published in Brussels states that a set period, such as one month, should be observed between the various stages. The paper is a guide for a return to normality, but "not a signal that restrictive measures can be lifted immediately". General measures should gradually be replaced by targeted ones, according to EU leaders. This would mean, for example, that older and more vulnerable people would be protected for longer, while restrictions would be lifted for other groups.

The EU strategy identifies three essential conditions for the start of the opening: a noticeable slowdown in the spread of the virus, sufficient hospital and intensive care beds, and the ability to effectively monitor the spread of the virus, for example with large-scale testing and technical tools such as smartphone apps.

14:17 German Farmers' Association: 23,500 seasonal workers registered

According to the German Farmers' association, German farmers have enough seasonal workers for the time being. More than a quarter of the total of 80,000 seasonal workers from abroad admitted for April and May have already been registered for help with the harvest in Germany, the Association’s President Joachim Rukwied told the "Rheinische Post". He warned, however, that there would be a gap of 150,000 workers in the second half of the year.

More than 1500 farms with 23,500 seasonal workers had registered on the German Farmers' Union platform - 16,500 for April and 7,000 for May.

14:14 US health experts also criticize WHO payment suspension

The US suspension of payment to the WHO is also being criticized in the United States itself. The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is working very productively and well with the WHO, Robert Redfield, the Director of the US epidemic authorities, told the ABC network. His organization will continue to do so.

14:11 230,000 Germans have returned home

Some 230,000 Germans have returned home from abroad since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis but the Federal Foreign Office's recall campaign is still ongoing. Further evacuation flights to South Africa and New Zealand are being planned, said a Foreign Office spokeswoman. She added that there were still Germans in Pakistan "who have now decided to return to Germany". She said they were in contact with the German embassy there. Germans have been brought back from a total of 62 countries.

13:55 Trade associations demand quick exit from the shutdown

Several trade associations have called for a rapid reversal of plant closures. "We need a quick exit from the shutdown", is the title of an appeal to the Federal Government, in which the German Family Business Association, the Trade Association Germany, and the German Association of Wholesalers, Foreign Trade, and Services (BGA), among others, participated.

The associations demanded that the economy be restarted under strict hygiene conditions in the coming week. "The safety regulations and hygiene rules must as far as possible, be applied uniformly throughout Germany and across all industries so that they are comprehensible and transparent.

13:48 Administrative court: home office is within reason

The Berlin Administrative Court has rejected the urgent application from a district inspector who preferred to continue working in the office instead of in her home office. According to the decision, the civil servant's right to "acceptable civil service employment” was not violated by the order to work temporarily from home.

13:29 Retailers Association criticizes plans to only open small shops

The German government's plans to only gradually reopen shops in Germany are meeting with resistance from retailers. The Chief Executive of the German Retail Association (HDE), Stefan Genth, described the plans to initially only open only small shops as "inappropriate and not scientifically sound". Austria should not be a role model for Germany in this respect, he said, because retail trade there is structured in a much smaller-sized way.

13:17 Tour de France to start in August

The organizer ASO has confirmed that the Tour de France for professional cyclists has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now take place from 29 August to 20 September. The tour was originally planned to run from 27 June to 19 July.

13:12 Border controls extended until 4 May

Now it is official: the controls at German borders introduced in the coronavirus crisis will be extended for another 20 days. This was confirmed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer wants to discuss details with the State Premiers of the states affected by this.

13:08 dpa: Federal government wants to make business possible for stores with up to 800 square meters sales area

According to information from the news agency dpa, the federal government wants to make it possible for shops with a sales area of up to 800 square meters to reopen. According to the news agency, this is a resolution proposed by the coronavirus cabinet for the consultations between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers. The tough social distancing restrictions that have been in place for several weeks are to be extended until 3 May.

12:48 Global cease-fire?

According to France, four of the five permanent members of the Security Council support the UN' s call for a global cease-fire. French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would soon agree as well. The Russian parliament will address the issue. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had called for a global ceasefire on March 23 so as to allow the world to focus on fighting the coronavirus crisis.

12:34 Seibert: Avoid recklessness and carelessness

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert warns against carelessness after successes in the fight against the coronavirus. "The path in the coming weeks is a narrow one between cautious gradual easing and maintaining progress in the fight against the pandemic," he said. The important thing, he added, "is that we must now avoid any recklessness or carelessness so as not to jeopardise what has been achieved".

12:28 10,000 intensive care beds free

10,000 intensive care beds are currently free in Germany. The same number of ventilators are also available, stated a spokesman for the ministry. Therefore,  capacities have not decreased within one week. The Robert Koch Institute qualified this as sufficient given the current infection trend.

12:21 Austria plans to open outdoor sports facilities in May

Austria is planning to reopen various sports facilities for recreational sports as of May 1. For the time being, only outdoor activities will be allowed, and not indoor activities, reported the Austrian news agency APA. According to the report, Minister of Sports Werner Kogler (Greens) mentioned athletics facilities, tennis courts, golf courses, as well as equestrian sports and shooting ranges as examples. He pointed out, however, that the coronavirus distancing rules must continue to be observed.

12:17 EU: Donor Conference for coronavirus vaccine

The European Union has invited governments and organizations to an online donor conference on May 4th to raise funds for research into a vaccine against the coronavirus. Financial support is necessary in order to support this worldwide initiative,  says EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She hopes that governments and organizations around the world will accept the invitation.

12:14 "Historic" fall in oil demand expected

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects an unprecedented drop in demand for oil worldwide this year due to the spread of the coronavirus. The agency reported that demand will drop by 9.3 million barrels (one barrel equals 159 liters) per day to around 90.6 million barrels per day, bringing it to the level of 2012. The decline is "historic". For April alone, the IEA expects a minus of 29 million barrels per day compared to April 2019.

12:11 EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner criticizes US payment stop to WHO

EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell has also criticised US President Donald Trump's announcement that payments to the WHO will be stopped. The decision is "deeply" regrettable, he wrote on Twitter. "There is no reason to justify this step at a time when efforts (of the WHO) are more necessary than ever." The crisis can only be overcome "with united efforts".

12:04 Grants of eight billion to small companies so far

Due to the coronavirus crisis, direct grants totalling roughly eight billion euros have been given to small companies and solo self-employed persons. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics. Approved applications have exceeded the one million mark. The federal government will provide a total of up to 50 billion euros for the aid package. The money will be paid out via the states.

11:55 Thailand: Landing ban extended

The Thai aviation authority has extended its entry ban until April 30th: Aircraft with foreigners on board are not allowed to land in Thailand until this date. The measures were imposed on April 4.

11:44 SZ: Relaxation of restrictions in retail trade

The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reports that the federal government is proposing to allow retail shops with a maximum size of 400 square meters to open on April 20. However, there would be conditions for this - such as a limit on the number of people in a shop at one time. According to the SZ, hairdressers would be allowed to open on May 4th.

11:39 EU wants uniform regulations for phasing out coronavirus restrictions

The European Union wants to prevent a patchwork of measures against the coronavirus by means of uniform regulations. The 27 EU member states should work together to define criteria for easing the restrictions, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michell. "The steps should be coordinated between the member states," the paper said. Without coordination there is a risk of negative effects on other EU states and political conflicts. "Respect and solidarity among member states remains essential."

11:30 Turkey begins with the release of prisoners

Turkey has started to release thousands of prisoners. Detainees were picked up by buses from prisons in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and other cities, according to the state news agency Anadolu.  Some wore masks and gloves to protect them from the coronavirus. The law allows the release of up to 90,000 prisoners.

11:16 Border controls to be extended

The German border controls introduced during the coronavirus crisis will remain in place for another 20 days. This was reported by the news agency dpa with reference to security circles. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) intends to discuss details with the Minister Presidents. People who are neither German or permanent residents of Germany have only been allowed to enter Germany since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with a "valid reason to travel". This applies, for example, to EU citizens travelling through Germany to their home country or truck drivers delivering important goods. Moreover, entry is only possible via certain border crossings.

11:08 Japan's health experts are calling for more tests

Japanese health experts are calling for an increase in coronavirus testing. The daily "Asahi Shimbun" reported that the third largest economy in the world still carries out far fewer tests than other countries. Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on April 7 that the state would strive to increase testing capacities to 20,000 per day, in reality, no more than about 7800 tests are actually being conducted.

11:01 Donation of millions with walker rounds

A 99-year-old Briton has completed a full 100 laps of his garden with a walker - and collected a million-dollar donation for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis. War veteran Tom Moore had been treated in the hospital for skin cancer and a broken hip and wanted to thank the hospital with the donation campaign. "Considering who the (money) is for - all the brave and excellent doctors and nurses we have - they deserve every penny," Moore told the BBC station. So far he has raised the equivalent of five million euros.

10:49 "Previously unparalled" crash

The Federal Ministry of Economics expects a "previously unparalleled" crash of the industrial economy in the coming months. A report on the economic situation in Germany published by the ministry in April indicates that a deep slump in private consumption is also to be expected. The German economy has been in recession since March. The recession is expected to last until the middle of the year, it says.

10:45 Long lines at the Moscow metro station

As of today, in Moscow, passes are required for the journey to work or to the doctor. The result: long lines at the metro.

10:39 "Not taking the population at large into account"

The President of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Jutta Allmendinger, believes that the perspective of women is not sufficiently considered in the Leopoldina Recommendation. The well-being of women is not addressed in the statement, she told the Berlin newspaper "Tagesspiegel". On Monday, the Leopoldina published recommendations for possible easing of the coronavirus restrictions. The sociologist criticized that the commission had "not taken into account the population at large". One explanation for this is the average age of the members of the Leopoldina working group, which is over 60. Secondly, there were only two women in the working group out of 26 members. "Both of these factors reflect what the ad hoc recommendation omits", said Allmendinger.

10:11 725,000 companies implement short-time working

The number of companies in Germany that have registered short-time working has risen to 725,000.  This represents a further increase of twelve percent over the previous week as of April 13, according to the Federal Employment Agency. One week earlier, 650,000 companies had registered short-time working. According to the Federal Labour Agency, 8000 employees are now working on short-time, ten times as many as in normal times.

09:51 Will contact restrictions be extended until May 3rd?

According to information from the news agency dpa and "Bild", the federal government will recommend today to the federal states that existing contact restrictions for citizens be maintained at least until May 3. A key issues paper with corresponding recommendations should be agreed upon during the consultations between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the members of the Coronavirus Cabinet.

09:41 Maas criticizes Trump

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has criticised the cessation of payments to the World Health Organization WHO, ordered by US President Donald Trump. “One of the best investments in the fight against the pandemic is to strengthen the United Nations, especially the underfunded World Health Organization, for example in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines,” the SPD politician told the news agency dpa. There had to be close international cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. “Playing the blame game won’t help during the coronavirus crisis,” said Maas. “The virus knows no borders.”

09:32 Coronavirus outbreak on oncology ward

Several patients and employees at an oncology ward at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have become infected with coronavirus. A UKE speaker confirmed a report in the news magazine "Der Spiegel".

09:16 Kretschmer: "Step by step"

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) has urged caution going forward. “We have to move forward step by step,” he said during the ARD Morgenmagazin news program. “After every step, we have to look at how the number of infections, the number of illnesses, the capacity in hospitals develop.” This would take time, he added, dampening expectations. “Composure and discipline have taken us a long way and we’ll need them in the coming months, too.” He called for apprenticeship, primary school, and high school examinations to be held as they normally would.

09:02 5,500 free intensive care beds

The speaker of the "Intensiv Register" of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, Christian Karagiannidis, sees the intensive care units as well equipped. In an interview with the BR, he said: "Yesterday's figures are extremely good. Among the reporting clinics, we had about 8,000 intensive care beds that were occupied and more than 5,500 intensive care beds that are still free. This is much more capacity than northern Italy had."

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institut reports 125,584 infected and 3,254 deaths
  • Maas warns against premature relief
  • More than 100,000 infections and 15,000 deaths in France
  • In the early afternoon Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the countries discuss the easing of contact restrictions