This is a live blog from May 7, 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

  • Criticism of Johnson's relaxation plans
  • Further relaxation in Schleswig-Holstein starting May 18th
  • Parliament decides support for parents and students
  • More than 11,000 new infections in Russia
  • RKI reports lower infection rate
  • Air France must cut jobs
  • Ifo-index drops drastically

17:47 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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17:29 No parliamentary elections in Syria before July

Syria’s ruling leader, Baschar al-Assad, has postponed the parliamentary elections scheduled for May due to the coronavirus pandemic. July 19 has been set as a new date for the vote, as announced by the President’s office. This is a preventive measure. The election originally planned for April had already been postponed by five weeks to 20 May due to the spread of the coronavirus. The Syrian Ministry of Health has reported 45 cases of coronavirus up to now, including three deaths.

17:27 Farmers' Association calls for state aid for potato growers

The German Farmers’ Association (DBV) has called for state aid for farmers who are left with a mountain of at least 350,000 tonnes of potatoes in the coronavirus crisis. "We urgently need support measures in the form of liquidity loans from the Landwirtschaftlichen Rentenbank (development bank), which should be provided with a repayment allowance from federal funds," said Udo Hemmerling, the DBV Deputy Secretary General, to the news agency AFP. The potato stores in Germany are full, because hardly any potatoes are being processed into French fries, said Hemmerling to explain the surplus. "The gastronomy sector  is currently taking virtually no potatoes - these potatoes cannot be used as food ingredients."

17:03 Members of Parliament waive increase in allowances

The German Parliament, with the votes of all six political groups, has decided to renounce this year’s increase in members‘ allowances. The joint draft legislation of all the political groups was unanimously adopted. An increase in allowances would have sent “the wrong signal”, said CDU/CSU Chief Whip Michael Grosse-Brömer. Although the measure does not finance a rescue package, it does say, “We are standing together in the crisis, also as members of the German Parliament.”

16:58 Coronavirus app apparently available in mid-June

The planned coronavirus infection chain tracking app is expected to be available in about five to six weeks. “Mid-June is a realistic period,” reports government circles. Initially, the app should only have its “core function” to inform contact persons about persons infected with coronavirus The option to voluntarily transfer data to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is then to be added later. It is further reported that the app is an “important tool” to “recognize infection chains more comprehensively” than before. The app using Bluetooth technology, is to record  when and how long someone has stayed near another person who has also enabled this function on their smartphone. If someone is infected with the novel coronavirus, they can anonymously  inform the others which could have been infected by being close to them.

16:41 Virologist Piot appointed by von der Leyen as coronavirus special advisor

Belgian virologist Peter Piot will become the coronavirus special advisor to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. He will help to accelerate the development and use of vaccines, tests, and treatment options stated von der Leyen in Brussels. Piot is the Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The Belgian doctor, who was made a baron by the Kind of Belgium is considered to be one of the discoverers of the Ebolavirus and has been leading the UN AIDS program for over ten years.

16:36 Reopening of the Acropolis on May 18

The Greek government has decided to reopen the country’s archaeological sites on 18 May. This initially only applies to "open-air" sites, such as the Acropolis in Athens. The museums are to be opened on 15 June. This was announced by the Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni at a press conference. In addition, the government in Athens wants to support artists who have lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic with an aid package of 24 million euros.

16:26 Sweden: More than 3000 coronavirus deaths

More than 3,000 people have now died after being infected by coronavirus in Sweden. The state health authority reported that the number of deaths has risen by 99 to 3,040 within 24 hours. A total of 24,623 infections have been detected. Sweden has imposed significantly fewer restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic than most other European countries. There are no curfews and, in addition to restaurants, bars and cafes, shops and most schools are still open. The different path followed by Sweden, however, is not without controversy in the country.

16:14 Lufthansa: rescue package of nine billion euros?

Lufthansa has officially confirmed that it is negotiating a  9 billion EUR rescue package with the Federal Government. Afterward, the Federal Government is aiming for a share of up to 25 percent plus one vote, as it was called in a mandatory announcement to the stock exchange. It is also aiming for representation in the Supervisory Board. It is also making provision for the waiver of future dividend payments subject to conditions. Lufthansa stressed that the negotiation and political consensus-building process is continuing.

15:43 Two weekends of Bundesliga games behind closed doors on free TV

Viewers can watch the first two weekends of the re-launch of the Bundesliga on free TV. Pay-TV broadcaster Sky announced that it will show conference coverage of the 1st Bundesliga on Saturday and the 2nd Bundesliga on Sunday, on its free-access Sky Sport News HD channel.

15:27 WHO: Up to 60 increase in domestic violence

Emergency services across Europe are experiencing a sharp increase in domestic violence calls as a result of the coronavirus restrictions. In April, various European countries reported an increase of up to 60 percent in emergency calls made by women affected by violence from their partners, compared to the same month last year, the WHO announced.

Several European countries such as Belgium, France, Spain, and Great Britain have reported increases.

15:23 Bundestag debates pandemic law for the first time

For the first time, the Bundestag has discussed the planned law to better protect the population during the coronavirus pandemic. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that a resilient health system is the "anchor of stability of a functioning state". He emphasized that the law would expand the number of corona tests and add staff to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

15:14 Spahn cautions against false sense of security

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has warned against people considering the coronavirus crisis to be mastered: "We are still in the middle of this pandemic". In view of the currently "manageable scope" of infection dynamics, it is only natural to discuss steps to ease restrictions and to enact different measures in different countries. Mr. Spahn has pointed out that there are creative concepts in trade, catering and other areas of daily life to reduce the risk of infection and make a new form of daily life possible.

15:10 Banksy thanks nurses

The street artist Banksy has thanked the heroes of the coronavirus crisis in his own way: with a large painting in the British General Hospital in Southampton. The painting is titled "Game Changer".

15:04 Syria again postpones elections

Because of the corona pandemic, Syria's ruler Bashar al-Assad has once again postponed the parliamentary elections planned for May. According to the presidential office in the capital of Damascus, the new date for the vote is June 19th. It is said to be a preventive measure.

The election, initially planned for April, had already been postponed by five weeks to May 20th because of the spread of the coronavirus. The Syrian Ministry of Health has reported 45 cases of corona so far, including three deaths.

15:00 US: More than 3 million new unemployed in a single week

In the last weeks, 3.16 million US citizens have applied for
unemployment benefits. This brings the total number of unemployed people in the
past seven weeks to 33 million. "The number of initial applications for
unemployment assistance has decreased slightly compared to the previous week.
It should be noted, however, that the number remains high and the coronavirus pandemic
continues to place a burden on the labor market," said economist Patrick
Boldt of Helaba.

The virus crisis has abruptly ended a years-long US job market boom and
triggered mass unemployment.

14:48 Seehofer defends border controls until May 15

In the coronavirus crisis, pressure is growing for Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer to reopen the borders to European neighbouring countries. However, the CSU politician isn't caving in: border controls are "part of our previous success in curbing the infection," Seehofer told the newspaper "Bild". In the federal government, there is agreement to continue the controls until May 15 to begin with.

Previously, twelve CDU members of the Bundestag and European Parliament, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann (CSU), and head of the FDP Christian Lindner had called for the quick opening of the borders to European neighbouring countries.

The WHO rejects travel restrictions to combat pandemics. Past experiences had shown that these are not an effective measure.

14:34 Criticism of Johnson's relaxation plans

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is increasingly coming under fire for his plans for easing the curfews imposed during the coronavirus crisis. Both the Scottish National Party SNP and the opposition party Labour have expressed concerns.

Johnson had said that he would announce the government’s further plans on Sunday. First relaxations could therefore apply as early as Monday. Britain is the country worst affected by the pandemic in Europe with more than 30,000 deaths, according to the statistics.

The British media had already speculated on first steps that Johnson might plan to take: in light of the good weather, these include opening more parks, allowing picnics, and reopening outdoor cafes. Outdoor sports will also be possible again. Critics think it is too early for these measures. Many people are already failing to comply with the regulations.

14:30 Bundesliga relegation and the DFB-Pokal will also take place

The concept for continuing the soccer Bundesliga now also includes a relegation game between the team ranked 16th in the 1st league and the team ranked third in the 2nd league. This was explained by Christian Seifert, head of the DFL. He did not mention a date for this, but the games would have to take place after the planned end of the season on June 27 and 28. This would at least allow for these games to take place even after June 30 and thus after the expiry of some contracts.

According to Seifert, whether there will also be deciding games for the team placed third to last in the 2nd league and the third in the 3rd league depends on the decision of whether the 3rd league will restart.

The DFB-Pokal will also continue. Dates for the semifinals will be announced "in the foreseeable future", said Seifert. Previously, the DFB had been irritated that politicians hadn't given the DFB-Pokal the green light along with the Bundesliga and the 2nd league.

14:23 Italy: Regions against coronavirus restrictions for all

Italy is one of the countries most severely affected by the coronavirus crisis. However, not all parts of the country have been hit equally. That is why many of the 20 regions are appealing for geographically differentiated relaxations. Shortly before a video conference with the regions, the President of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, wrote to the government in Rome and called for permission for small retailers to open quickly.

Some areas have already relaxed individual regulations on their own: for example, the region of Abruzzo will allow hairdressers and beauty salons to resume their services from May 18. Regional leaders argue that there are large zones in Italy where hardly any new infections are currently registered.

14:10 Tens of thousands of cases in US prisons

According to figures from the University of California, around 21,000 inmates and more than 8,700 employees in US prisons have been infected with coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic. Almost 300 inmates have died from the infection, as have 34 employees.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Authority assume that employees such as prison guards play an important role in the spread of the virus in jails, as they move almost between their workplace and their homes nearly on a daily basis.

13:47 Bundesliga to start up on May 16

The 1st and 2nd league games of the German Bundesliga are set to kick off again on Saturday, May 16. This was announced by the head of the German Soccer League (DFL), Christian Seifert. The 36 professional teams had agreed on this date at the DFL general meeting. Games have been paused since March 13.

13:34 Brazil: More than 600 coronavirus deaths in one day for the first time

According to the Brazilian health authorities, the country has set a sad record in the coronavirus crisis. From Tuesday to Wednesday, more than 600 deaths within 24 hours were reported for the first time.

Currently, around 125,200 coronavirus infections have been officially registered in Brazil. More than 8,500 people have lost their lives to the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic.

13:29 UV light for disinfection

According to the military, the university hospital in the Spanish town of Valencia is now also using UV light to kill possible coronaviruses on surfaces. For this purpose, a robot produced in Germany, originally designed for defusing tasks, was rebuilt. It has been equipped with a UV lamp that can be operated by remote control, as the Spanish media reported.

UV light is also used for disinfection in Germany - in the Europa-Passage in Hamburg - and in Singapore.

13:20 Global drop in food prices

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), prices for the most important types of food fell in April declined around the world for the third consecutive month. The average price index was 165.5 points, around 3.4 percent lower than in March and drop of 3 percent compared to last year.

To give a few examples, FAO mentioned prices for dairy products and meat. For these products, prices decreased by 3.6 percent and 2.7 percent respectively in April. This is due to the closure of restaurants and the resulting drop in demand as well as lower incomes during the coronavirus crisis. In addition, production companies often lack the necessary workforce.

13:06 Closures cost booksellers almost half their revenue

Because of the restrictions of the coronavirus crisis, booksellers across the country are dealing with significant financial losses. Although bookstores were allowed to open on April 20, they recorded decline in sales of 46.9 percent in the previous month compared to April 2019. This was reported by the trade magazine "Börsenblatt", which based its figures on the April "Branchen-Monitor Buch" (industry monitoring book) from Media Control.

Travel books saw the most severe slump with a decrease in sales of 80 percent. Hardback and softcover books recorded a decline of 47.3 percent, while sales of paperbacks decreased by 44.2 percent. Children's and youth books saw the most moderate decline with 19.6 percent, while fiction sales dropped by 28.8 percent compared to the previous year.

12:56 Tens of thousands of employees in the chemical industry on short-time working

More and more people in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry are going on short-time working during the coronavirus crisis. From the beginning of April to the beginning of May, the number of short-time workers rose from 80,000 to almost 90,000, the employers' association BAVC announced. This means that a good 15 percent of the approximately 580,000 employees nationwide are affected. In May, some 40 percent of companies used short-time work, even if often only for a part of the workforce, according to a BAVC survey of 1900 member companies.

12:51 Norway lowers key interest rate to record low

The Norwegian Central Bank has cut its key interest rate from 0.25 to zero percent. This is the first time in its history that the institute has reduced the key interest rate to this level. Reasons for this are the low oil price, which has weakened the Norwegian krone, and the economic slump caused by the coronavirus crisis.

12:46 Hair salon in Kenyan slum offers "Corona hairstyle"

A hair salon in a slum in Kenya's capital Nairobi offers its young customers a "Corona hairstyle". "I started with the hairstyle when news of the virus spread in Kenya," Leunita Abwala, the owner of the salon in Kibera, told the news agency dpa. "Now everyone - from young children to women - refers to this salon as the Corona style salon," the 40-year-old said proudly.

For the hairstyle, strands of hair are taken and knotted into thin, protruding braids reminiscent of the surface proteins of the coronavirus.

12:23 Celebrities call for the opening of the Czech-Slovak border

Several celebrities from the Czech Republic and Slovakia - including actors and writers - have called for the opening of the border between the two countries. According to an open letter to the governments in Prague and Bratislava published by the Vaclav Havel Library in Prague, this must happen as soon as possible. They referred to the close historical, economic, cultural, and human relations between the two EU members. The Czech Republic and Slovakia formed a common state as Czechoslovakia until it was divided in 1993.

12:09 Schleswig-Holstein relaxes restrictions as of May 18

Schleswig-Holstein will lift the entry ban for tourists as of May 18. This will make it possible again to travel to the islands and Halligen.

"The time has come to take a look at the entire social and economic life of our state and to shape the course of Schleswig-Holstein," said Minister President Daniel Günther (CDU).

Since Monday, owners of second homes and permanent campers have been allowed to enter Schleswig-Holstein again. As of May 18, parking spaces for mobile homes may also be used. Hotels will then be allowed to receive guests again, and holiday apartments can also be rented out.

Restaurants may also reopen, but they must observe safety measures and the minimum distance.

Fitness studios can also be used as of May 18. "Seated" events with up to 50 participants will be permitted from then on as well.

11:52 India launches repatriation operation

India is beginning to bring home its own citizens who are stuck abroad because of travel restrictions. The government assumes that at least 190,000 people are affected, and the number is likely to increase many times over, according to the Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Puri.

Commercial airplanes, military transporters and warships are to be used for the repatriation. The first planes from Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already expected tonight. In the Gulf States, many Indians are employed as cheap labor.

Within one week the first 14,800 Indians from a total of twelve countries are to be flown in. The main focus is on students, medical emergencies, the elderly, and pregnant women. The returnees have to contribute to the cost of the flights with the equivalent of up to 1220 euros.

Indians showing symptoms of the coronavirus will not be allowed to return for the time being. All returnees must first be quarantined in a clinic or other state institution.

11:38 Parliament approves further coronavirus relief

The Parliament (Bundestag) has agreed to additional support for parents and students in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Parental benefits will not be reduced if recipients have earned a lower income or have worked short-time before taking parental leave due to the pandemic. Parents who work in systemically important professions such as medicine can postpone their parental allowance months. Parents who benefit from the so-called partnership bonus because they both work part-time and now work fewer hours as a result of the crisis will continue to be entitled to the full bonus.

In the case of students who receive Bafög and now earn a little extra in systemically relevant areas, this salary will not be offset against Bafög payments.

Scientists who are in the so-called qualification phase, i.e. who are working on their postdoctoral qualification or doctorate, will be given more time. The fixed-term contracts can be extended by up to six months.

11:19 World Tourism Organization expects massive drop in travel

The World Tourism Organization UNWTO expects the number of tourists this year to fall by up to 80 percent compared to last year.

Worldwide, the number of tourists has already fallen by 22 percent in the first quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UN organization reports. Because of the travel restrictions imposed by many countries, the decline in March alone was 57 percent.

11:16 Poland's parliament approves presidential election voting by mail

The Polish people should have actually voted on a new head of state on Sunday. But in view of the coronavirus pandemic there had been a fierce dispute about the voting. Now parliament has approved a solution that was agreed yesterday by the governing PiS party and former deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Gowin. The electoral law will be changed, making voting by mail possible. According to Gowin, this will not take place before June. To change the election date, PiS and Gowin want to use a legal loophole: Since the election simply won't take place on Sunday, the Polish Supreme Court can then declare it invalid and set a new date for the vote.

10:37 Russia: More than 11,000 new cases within 24 hours

According to Russian health authorities, more than 11,200 new cases of the coronavirus infection were reported nationwide within 24 hours. This means that more than 177,100 cases have now been confirmed. The number of fatalities rose by 88 to a total of 1625.

10:33 Multi-million Loan for Puma

The sporting goods manufacturer Puma will receive an aid loan of 900 million euros. The state development bank KfW will take over a share of 625 million euros. The remaining amount is provided by a consortium of eleven banks. According to the company, Puma's sales in the first quarter of the year fell by 1.3 percent to 1.3 billion euros compared to the first quarter of 2019. Consolidated net income fell by about 62 percent to approximately 36 million euros.

10:27 RKI: Infection rate continues to fall

The Robert Koch Institute has further reduced the so-called reproduction number of the coronavirus. This number is now at 0.65, said RKI vice president Lars Schaade. This means that on average each infected person infects 0.65 people. Previously, the reproduction number had been between 0.7 and 0.8. Schaade also announced that his institute will discontinue its regular press conferences on the state of the pandemic starting next week. At the beginning of the crisis, it was important to keep the public informed about what was happening. Press conferences will continue to take place, but only as warrented.

10:10 Dehoga in favor of uniform opening schedule for the catering trade

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) has spoken out in favour of opening up restaurants and pubs nationwide as uniformly as possible. This will increase acceptance among guests, according to Dehoga CEO Ingrid Hartges in the joint ARD and ZDF morning program.

However, the federal states have already announced different regulations: In Lower Saxony, restaurants are allowed to open as early as Monday under strict conditions, in Berlin, not until the middle of the month, and in other states probably even later.

Hartges also once again insisted on a federal rescue fund for the industry. Despite the openings, businesses in the catering industry will probably only be able to achieve 30 to 50 percent of last year's sales this year due to the coronavirus restrictions.

09:52 Crisis researcher warns against hesitant easing of restrictions

The director of the Kiel Crisis Research Institute, Frank Roselieb, has warned against waiting too long to relax coronavirus measures. He said that these would become increasingly difficult to justify legally over time, and would also test people's patience.

09:48 Bank of England expects economic recession

According to forecasts by the Bank of England, British economic output could collapse by almost a third in the period from the beginning of the year to the end of the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the second quarter alone, the central bank is expecting a minus of 25 percent.

According to the institute's estimates, the UK economy could shrink by 14 percent over the year as a whole. This will depend on how long the coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Current forecasts are based on the assumption that regulations such as curfews or the minimum distance will be phased out between June and the end of the year. It is estimated that overall economic output could return to pre-pandemic levels within three years.

09:39 US study: Nearly one in five children do not get enough to eat

According to a study by the think tank Brookings Institution, one in five children in the USA do not get enough to eat as a result of the coronavirus crisis. This is the result of a survey of mothers of children up to twelve years old in 5000 households. 17.4 percent of the participants stated that they are currently unable to feed their children adequately due to lack of money.

Children in the USA are currently experiencing "food insecurity on an unprecedented scale in modern times," warned the head of the study, Lauren Bauer, in an interview with the New York Times. Either the portions for the children were smaller or meals were skipped completely. The food supply for school cafeterias is also being cut back at the moment.

The situation is worse than during the 2008 financial crisis. 30 million people in the USA have lost their jobs so far since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

09:00 Chancellery Head Braun: "We are living in the middle of a pandemic

Chancellery head Helge Braun assumes that the coronavirus pandemic will continue for the rest of the year. "We are not now living after a pandemic, we are living in the middle of a pandemic," the CDU politician told Deutschlandfunk radio. With regard to the approved easing of restrictions, Braun emphasized that " indeed, there is never any reason for carelessness". He added that measures such as maintaining a safe distance would continue to accompany people, and that he was also concerned about travel and socializing: "Of course, we all want to see a quick relaxation. But it is precisely in this phase, where openings are taking place in individual states, that it is important that we act in a comparable way.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 1284 new cases of CoViD-19 (166,091 total) and 123 new deaths (7,119 total) due to the virus
  • Seven instead of 19 percent VAT for meals in restaurants
  • EU expects economic decline by 7.7 percent
  • Partly openings of schools in Wuhan
  • More than 71.000 deaths in the USA