This is a live blog from May 5, 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 is based on the live blog of Tagesschau.

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Short facts

  • Merkel wants a maximum limit of new infections for relaxing restrictions
  • Tourism commission: Possibility of summer vacations abroad
  • Several federate state determine new relaxations
  • Great Britain records the highest number of deaths in Europe
  • Germany: Almost every sector on short-time work  
  • RKI: 685 new infections

16:50 Great Britain reports more than 32,000 coronavirus deaths

Great Britain has overtaken the number of coronavirus deaths in Italy: the number of people who died in the United Kingdom after being infected by the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 has increased to over 32,313, as reported by the UK Statistics Authority. This makes Great Britain the country most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe and the second most affected country in the world following the USA.

16:47 Association: Every second textile company produces fabric masks

Every second textile and fashion company in Germany in the meantime is producing fabric and protective masks against the coronavirus, according to the Industry Association. The industry produces around 22 million pieces per week, the German textile and fashion industry umbrella association reported, with "an increasing tendency". Most of them are mouth and nose coverings, which are mainly worn by consumers when shopping or using public transport. Besides these, there were be 7.5 million OP masks as well as 2.5 million FFP masks, with which the wearers can also better protect themselves from Sars-CoV-2 infection.

16:39 EU Commission against German vouchers for travel cancellations solution

The EU Commission is continuing to reject a voucher solution planned by the Federal Government for canceled travel. "It is important for us to maintain our consumer rights," wrote the  EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean in a letter addressed to the German Ministry of Transport, Justice, and Economic Affairs, which was made available to the ARD broadcaster’s capital studio. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders also made similar statements in a letter to several Federal Ministers. There should not be a voucher obligation to issue vouchers and consumers cannot be deprived of their rights. The consumer protection association headquarters welcomed the Commission’s position. Package holidays, as well as flight tickets, have to be promptly refunded according to EU law. The federal government, however, wants an obligatory voucher solution, to ensure the liquidity of companies.

16:13 Group leader of the Union, SPD, and Green party criticizes easing in the federal states

The CDU/CSU, SPD and the Green Party leaders in the German parliament have strongly criticized the federal states’ inconsistent approach to the easing of coronavirus restrictions. It is hard to understand for the "population in this country nowadays that we have such a great difference," said party leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU). Michael Brinkhaus (CDU) called on the State Premiers "to take an uniform line," before the federal states‘ consultations tomorrow with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). The question has come up for him of what the role of the State Premiers‘ conference is “when everything is decided before or afterward or differently or faster or slower".  The SPD party leader Mützenich demanded a unified approach. “A unified approach is urgently needed because the people need clear statements“ The Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckhardt also opposed further individual approaches. She doesn’t have anything against regional solutions where there are regional differences but they also have to be understandable: “There have to be joint criteria“. Bremen also warned above all against a “speed and overbidding competition“ for the federal states and State Premiers. “It is important now to proceed in a coordinated way and to keep a cool head, “ said Mayor Andreas Boyenschulte (SPD). Berlin’s current Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) takes a critical view of the relaxations of the coronavirus regulations in some states. The pandemic is not yet defeated he said: “Thus, I am worried by what is happening there.“

15:40 Visits to nursing homes in North Rhine-Westphalia allowed from Monday

North Rhine-Westphalia will lift the coronavirus-related ban on visits to nursing and care homes. From next Sunday, residents of such homes in “NRW” will be allowed to receive visits from family members and friends again, said the State Health Ministry. However, there are strict conditions for visits. The ban has been in force since mid-March. Bavaria had previously announced its plan to ease the ban on visits to hospitals and care facilities: from this weekend onwards, one permanent contact person is allowed to visit residents again – with strict hygiene and protection measures in place.

15:33 No decision about car purchase incentives until June

Today’s talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives of the automotive industry have not yet resulted in decision on aid to the car industry during the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the participants of the telephone conference agreed to continue exchanging their views in a working group on "economic stimulus measures", according to government spokesperson Steffen Seibert. Results are to be discussed at the beginning of June.

15:25 Researchers demand “corona time off” for parents in busy families

Economic researchers are pleading for the introduction of “coronavirus time off” for parents, together with a “corona family allowance”. According to the proposal of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), working single parents as well as families in which both parents work more than 40 hours, should be allowed to apply for a reduction of working hours to care for their children. With couples, the allowance should be subject to the condition that both parents cut hours, the proposal furthermore states. “This will help prevent that existing gender inequalities in family care and employment become even more pronounced as a result of the coronavirus crisis,” said DIW researcher Katharina Wrohlich.

According to DIW research, the coronavirus crisis is making it harder to ensure a healthy work-life balance, above all form others. Nurseries and schools have now been closed for weeks, which poses great challenges to the over four million families with working parents and kids under the age of 12

15:20 State economy ministers discussing opening of catering businesses on May 18th

"The Federal States want to reach an agreement on a specific date to open catering businesses during a videoconference this evening. In a draft decision to be discussed, a preliminary date of May 18th has been specified," according to the Chair of the economic policy conference, Bremen Senator Kristina Vogt (Die Linke). She expressed confidence that the proposal would be adopted. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier (CDU) will also take part in the conference.

Ms. Vogt was very critical of Lower Saxony pressing ahead. This was said to have come as a surprise. The concept of the Federal State would still be immature in some respects. Some regulations would apply to restaurants and taverns, but not to pubs, even though many also offer food, emphasized Ms. Vogt, who used to be an innkeeper herself. In Lower Saxony, from Monday on, restaurants, inns, cafés and beer gardens are allowed to serve guests again, with a maximum capacity of 50%.

15:09 Regional railway traffic almost back to normal

Rail passengers once again have more connections to choose from. Since the start of the week, Deutsche Bahn has been operating at 90 percent of its usual schedule, according to the federal company. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, national rail passenger counts have amounted to only two-thirds of the regular figures, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “In the coming weeks, our operation will approach the regular schedule,” announced CEO Berthold Huber. “We will continue to offer as many connections as reliably as possible.”

15:04 Scholz asks for solidarity in monetary union after ECB judgment

In the opinion of Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (SPD), the Federal Constitutional Court's ruling on the ECB's state bond purchases does not call into question the cohesion within the European Monetary Union. "In these days, with the coronavirus crisis demanding a lot from us, the common currency and the common monetary policy give us the necessary cohesion in Europe," stressed Mr. Scholz. The ruling also has no direct impact on the Federal Bank, which is expected to continue to participate in the joint purchasing program for the time being.

Since March 2015, the European Central Bank has been investing many billions of euros in government bonds and other securities, to boost economic growth and inflation. The German Constitutional Court considers this as going beyond its mandate for monetary policy.

14:58 Saxony-Anhalt to start allowing overnight tourism from May 15th

From May 15th, locals are once again allowed to rent holiday homes and apartments in Saxony-Anhalt. In the next steps, hotels will open their doors again for tourists, and all tourist establishments and offers will follow later. This has been decided by the State Cabinet. No dates have been mentioned for now. Restaurants in Saxony-Anhalt should be allowed to open from May 22nd. The regulations are said to not differentiate between outdoor and indoor gastronomy. There will not be a maximum number of guests in place either. Nevertheless, all existing restrictions on contact and social distancing and hygiene measures should be observed. Dancing bars and clubs remain closed. Saxony-Anhalt ranks among the states with the lowest number of infections.

14:53 Merkel apparently wants an upper limit for new infections

According to the newspaper "Bild", chancellor Angela Merkel wants to implement an upper limit for new infections in connection with the further easing of coronavirus restrictions. The Federal Chancellor's Office wants to tie the upcoming relaxation decisions to a caveat: If an upper limit for new infections is exceeded, the openings must be revoked at a regional level, the newspaper reported.

During a phone conference, chancellery minister Helge Braun (CDU) discussed the next round of relaxations with the heads of the state chancelleries. According to the newspaper "Bild", Braun demanded that if a district registered more than 35 new infections per 100,000 residents within seven days, which did not occur in a place such as a nursing home, the district would have to return to the restrictions in place on April 20.  This would mean that schools, hairdressers, some retailers, and other institutions that opened on April 20 would have to close again. In addition, curfews and contact restrictions would come into effect again. Tomorrow, Merkel wants to discuss the next steps in the coronavirus crisis with the State Premiers.

14:46 Tourism commissioner thinks summer holidays could be possible in many EU countries

The federal government’s tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), believes that summer holidays will not only be possible in Germany, but also in many EU countries. “This particularly applies to our neighboring countries, such as Austria, France, Belgium, Poland, or the Netherlands,” Bareiß told the newspaper “Tagesspiegel”. “But I wouldn't write off other regions in Europe, for example the Balearic Islands or the Greek islands.” If there are hardly any new infections there and medical care is available, “you could also consider a summer holiday there,” Bareiß told the newspaper. Discussions are already taking place at the EU level and with the World Tourism Organization, the UNWTO, about what standards would have to be met.

14:19 Weddings in times of coronavirus

Saying 'I do' during the coronavirus crisis: Three couples got married at a drive-in movie theater in Düsseldorf. First, Janine and Philip Scholz said 'I do' on the stage decorated with white flowers, while the couple’s family watched from 30 cars. They were married by Düsseldorf’s mayor Thomas Geisel (SPD), who was separated from the couple by a plastic screen. We were barely aware of the circumstances, the bride, dressed in white, said afterwards. The groom said, “We are super happy that it happened the way it did.” After the ceremony, the two supporters of the soccer club Fortuna Düsseldorf wore protective masks with the club's logo. Later on, two more couples were married by a registrar.

13:57 Hamburg opens playgrounds, museums, and churches

The Hamburg senate has decided on further relaxations of coronavirus-related protection measures. Playgrounds will be able to reopen on Wednesday, subject to certain conditions, as Mayor Peter Tschentscher announced. However, children under the age of seven will only be allowed to play when accompanied by adults. Religious services and visits to museums, zoos, and botanical gardens will also be possible again. The senate is hereby implementing the agreements decided by the federal government and the states last week. The contact restrictions in public life will largely remain in place for the time being. Restaurants and pubs also remain closed. However, there are also relaxations for individual sports.

13:54 Baden-Wuerttemberg: Coronavirus traffic lights as guidance

As of next week, Baden-Wuerttemberg will start using a traffic light system for institutions and events that indicates what is permitted and what remains prohibited. This will provide guidance to the general public, said State Premier Winfried Kretschmann. According to this scheme, mass events will remain red until further notice, but the gastronomy industry can hope to reopen soon with a yellow status. The responsible ministries are currently preparing the plan in detail, said Kretschmann.

13:39 More than 100 cases of discrimination due to coronavirus

The federal anti-discrimination office has received more than 100 reports of discrimination in relation to coronavirus. “The cases range from blatant racist behavior in public to physical assaults,” said Bernhard Franke, acting director of the German Press Agency. People with an Asian appearance reported that they had been served from a much greater distance in shops or not at all. There have been threats and hate messages. Other citizens turned to the anti-discrimination office because children were not allowed into supermarkets. Single parents had faced major problems because of these kinds of regulations.

13:05 Ischgl: Police presents 1000-page progress report

As part of their investigations into the events during the coronavirus crisis in Ischgl, the Austrian police have now presented an interim report. The approximately 1,000-page report is "very detailed and comprehensive," said a spokesman for the Innsbruck Public Prosecutor's Office. After reviewing the files, it will be decided whether there is reasonable suspicion.

Since the end of March, an investigation has been underway at the Public Prosecutor's Office due to suspicion of  danger caused by infectious diseases. According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, 321 persons have joined the proceedings. Most of them come from Germany. The winter sports resort Ischgl in Tyrol is considered to be a hotspot that significantly contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in parts of Europe.

13:00 Study: Smaller risk for asthmatics than originally thought?

According to recent studies, asthmatics are not at greater risk of a serious CoViD-19 infection. While it was initially feared that coronavirus could pose a greater threat to those affected, there is now evidence that an asthma patient in good health could be even better equipped to combat the disease.

12:48 Baden-Württemberg allows "contactless outdoor sports"

Baden-Württemberg's Minister President Winfried Kretschmann has announced further easing of the coronavirus restrictions for sports. The Green Party politician announced that the steering committee of the state government has been instructed to allow "contactless outdoor sports" again starting next week. This would mean outdoor sports where the distance rules could be observed without any problems - such as golf, athletics, and tennis. He also added that outdoor sports in particular are good and strengthen the immune system.

12:36 Auto market in Great Britain drops by almost 100 percent

The coronavirus crisis has led to a record drop of almost 100 percent in new car registrations in Great Britain in April. Due to the fact that salesrooms were closed for the whole month, only 4321 new cars were sold, 97.3 percent less than in April 2019, according to the industry association Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Tuesday. This slump is in line with the declines in other European car markets, such as France or Italy.

12:22 Bavaria opens playgrounds and allows family visits

The Bavarian cabinet has discussed a timetable for the gradual easing of restrictions: The current curfews will be changed to a contact restrictions. This means that the distance rule will continue to apply, but relatives will now be allowed to visit each other. In nursing and retirement homes, visitation options will be created as early as the weekend - under certain conditions. Visits should take place outside if possible, a mask should be worn and distance should be maintained, said Prime Minister Söder. In addition, the playgrounds may be used again from tomorrow on.

12:17 Medical association gives advice for decisions about life and death

In the opinion of the German Medical Association, doctors should not make moral judgements about human life in the event of scarce treatment capacities in the coronavirus pandemic. If treatment options are not available, decisions should be made in such a way that the chances of success are as high as possible and as many lives as possible can be saved, according to a legal and ethical guideline for physicians published today. The fundamental principle must always be that no human life is worth more than another. "Discrimination on the basis of age, gender, nationality, disability or social status, for example, is prohibited. Even chronic diseases such as dementia should not lead to a blanket exclusion from necessary treatment. Rather, the medical indication, the willingness of the patient and the prospects of clinical success must be the central criteria for the decision. These would also apply to the decision on whether to continue intensive care or ventilation therapy. In the opinion of the German Medical Association, physicians act lawfully if they have to make decisions on the allocation of intensive care resources in individual cases in such situations - taking careful account of the medical professional code of conduct and the current state of medical knowledge.

12:11 Hong Kong resumes social life

As of Friday, bars and cinemas in Hong Kong will be allowed to open again. Schools will gradually be allowed to open in stages. The government has also ordered that reusable masks be distributed to all 7.5 million inhabitants. In bars and restaurants, where previously four people were allowed to eat together, eight are now allowed. A minimum distance of 1.50 metres must be maintained between tables. Admission to cinemas will also be restricted. Hong Kong was one of the first countries to have cases of coronavirus because of its proximity to mainland China. However, the special administrative zone managed to limit the number of cases to about 1000, four people died. Over the past 16 days, ten days have not seen a single new infection. The few cases that occurred on the other days were arrivals from overseas who were immediately quarantined.

11:44 Britain has the highest number of deaths in Europe

In Great Britain, more than 32,000 people are believed to have died from the coronavirus-induced lung disease Covid-19 - more than anywhere else in Europe. The National Statistics Office (ONS) reported that 29,648 deaths were counted in England and Wales where Covid-19 is listed on the death certificate. If the number of patients who died in connection with the virus in Scotland and Northern Ireland is added to this number, the death toll is 32,313. This is more than in Italy, which had recorded the most deaths in the pandemic so far.

11:28 Secret Service does not believe in laboratory as origin for the virus

Western intelligence agencies consider the theory of a laboratory accident as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic to be "highly unlikely". The US news channel CNN quoted three sources who, based on the findings of the US intelligence alliance called "Five Eyes" with Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, contradicted the suspicions of US President Donald Trump and most recently US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2. CNN quoted a diplomat as saying that it is highly probable that it occurred naturally and that human infections occur through the natural interaction between humans and animals. On Sunday, Pompeo had stated that there was "significant" evidence that the crisis started in a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

11:16 Vaccine research: 115 research projects worldwide

The number of Covid 19 vaccine projects is increasing. According to the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA), there are now 115 vaccine projects worldwide. Seven of these projects are being carried out in Germany, involving research by the biotech companies BioNTech, CureVac, Prime Vector Technologies, Artes Biotechnology, and two projects at the German Center for Infection Research. Ten vaccine candidates are already being tested worldwide in clinical study programs with volunteers. BioNTech has started the first clinical study in Germany. The number of vaccine projects has thus almost tripled since mid-March, when the VFA reported at least 39 projects.

10:58 Austrian government warns against carelessness

The Austrian government is concerned that the level of vigilance is declining in parts of the population. There is a palpable sense of insecurity, which is being fuelled by conspiracy theories in social media, said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober. Some people are finding it increasingly difficult to comply with hygiene rules. "We are in a very delicate phase", said Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. The major achievements to date are at stake. In Austria the number of infections has been very low for some time. Currently, only about 1600 people are still infected with Covid-19. The opening-up steps taken so far, such as the end of curfews and the opening of shops, have not had a negative effect, it was reported. In May, the restaurant and hotel industry will be followed by other sectors.

10:51 Luxembourg calls for the elimination of German entry controls

Luxembourg is pressing for the elimination of German entry controls at the border. There is "no apparent reason" to maintain the controls introduced in mid-March, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn wrote in a statement to Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Luxembourg's coronavirus situation did not threaten the neighbouring regions "in any way". The controls have fuelled resentment on both sides of the border and endangered coexistence in the region. Since March 16th, border traffic has been significantly restricted between Luxembourg and Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic. Seehofer has decided to extend controls at the borders with Luxembourg and some other states until May 15.

10:01 Live: RKI on the coronavirus situation

How does the Robert Koch Institute assess the situation in view of the new infection figures? Follow the RKI coronavirus update live here.

08:17 ifo survey: Almost all sectors reporting short-time work

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, nearly all sectors in Germany are resorting to short-time work, according to the ifo Institute.  The gastronomy sector is the front runner with 99 percent of businesses affected and hotels with 97 percent. This is the result of a survey conducted by economic researchers in April. According to the survey, the automotive industry is similarly affected with 94 percent. The average across all industries is 50 percent. " This exceeds all figures from the financial crisis of 2009," said ifo expert Klaus Wohlrabe. Only a few industries have seen comparatively little short-time work. The chemical industry is reporting 30 percent, food and animal feed manufacturers 21 percent, the health sector 14 percent, law firms, tax consultants and auditors three percent. Accordingly, energy suppliers, sewage disposal companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers are not reporting any short-time work.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 685 new cases of CoViD-19 (163,860 total) and 139 new deaths (6,831 total) due to the virus
  • Online donor conference: Germany gives 525 million euro for the development of vaccines
  • Three million antibody tests to be delivered in May
  • Heinsberg study: Possibly 1.8 million infected
  • Italy eases curfew