This is a live blog from May 24, 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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16:31 That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

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Short Facts

  • Italy's Interior Minister urges more discipline after loosening the measures
  • Schäuble criticizes duration of development of Corona-App
  • Severe criticism of Thuringia's relaxation plan
  • For the holiday season: Doctors warn of second corona wave
  • German Association of Cities and Towns fears that city centres will die out
  • Lufthansa apparently wants to re-start expanding its route network starting in June

16:25 Currently 107 infected after Frankfurt Baptist service

The number of coronavirus infections after a service in a Frankfurt Baptist church two weeks ago has increased significantly. According to Hesse’s health minister Kai Klose (Green Party), there are 107 confirmed cases. The people live in Frankfurt and three other counties in Hesse.

Initial reports spoke of over 40 infections.

Religious assemblies have been allowed in Hessen again since May 1st, under conditions. The minimum distance of 1.50 metres must be observed in places of worship, and other hygiene measures such as setting up disinfection stations are also required.

16:09 Papel blessing on St. Peter's Square

For the first time since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in Italy, the Pope has gaven his Sunday blessing to pilgrims standing on St. Peter’s Square. The square had been closed to the public since March and only reopened on Monday.

Only relatively few people were allowed on the square. They had to keep a greater distance from each other to protect against infection with the virus. On May 18th, many restrictions in Italy were lifted, which had been imposed during the lockdown of March 10th. Religious services are once again allowed.

15:52 A holiday in France for the French

The French government has called on its citizens to enjoy their summer holidays in their own country because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is not desirable that the French travel abroad, and they are advised to take holidays in their own country, said Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne to radio station France Inter. Next week, the government will decide on relaxing the regulations for domestic travel.

At the moment, French citizens are not allowed to travel further than 100 kilometers from their place of residence.

15:32 Thirty billion euro of compensation for reduced work hours?

According to the Federal Employment Agency (BA), the costs of reduced hour work could amount to more than 30 billion euro by the end of the year. The Federal Government would then have to jump in, said Head of the BA Detlef Scheele to the "Tagesspiegel".

The BA has by now only paid out 2.5 billion euro in compensations, but many companies have not yet settled their wages.

During the coronavirus crisis, more than ten million employees in Germany have seen reduced hours applications. However, the Agency from Nuremberg expects that not all persons for whom an application has been made will actually use the compensation in the end.

15:00 Italians ignore rules after relaxations

With sunny weather outside, many Italians have used their new freedoms in the coronavirus crisis to visit the beach and hold nightly celebrations in front of bars. Television stations show South Italian beaches full of people; most visitors do not wear any mouth-nose protection. Young people flocked to the nightlife quarters. Many in groups, without observing social distancing or wearing mouth-nose protection. In some cities, mayors have closed bars earlier.

Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese expressed criticicism in an interview with radio station RTL102.5: "Young people have started to disregard restrictions after a long period of confinement at home."

The Italian government had considerably eased the lockdown on May 18th. However, severe hygiene and distance regulations are still in place. Italy was hit hard by the COVID-19 disease, with around 230,000 registered infections and a death toll of 33,000. The rate of infection has by now decreased significantly.

14:27 Criticism of coronavirus app

Delays introducing the coronavirus warning app have led to increased criticism. President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), criticized the development in the "Welt am Sonntag": "Just look at the shambolic way this coronavirus app is being developed. I’m no expert, but it seems to be taking quite some time." The app, he argues, should have been there at the beginning of the pandemic, ideally at a European level.

Saxony's Prime Minister Kretschmer has also expressed scepticism. "The way in which the coronavirus app has been launched isn’t bringing the necessary security," he told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. What mattered was maintaining a distance of one and a half meters and wearing a mask.

The app will be ready for launch in mid-June and will record when and how long individuals who have the function enabled on their smartphones have been in close proximity to one another. Should one of them become infected, those who have been in close contact with this person, and who subsequently may have contracted coronavirus, can be informed anonymously. The app is being developed by Deutsche Telekom and SAP on behalf of the Federal Government.

13:34 Coronavirus patrols: Mounted police join salsa course

A salsa teacher in The Hague had some unlikely students during the coronavirus crisis – two mounted police officers. The officers had discovered a dance group on their patrol through the Zuiderpark in the Dutch city. Since sport is currently only allowed outside because of the coronavirus crisis, the dance teacher was temporarily holding her salsa course in the park.
Instead of issuing a fine, the police took advantage of the opportunity and got involved, as seen in a video on Dutch TV.

13:14 Italy to test 150,000 people for antibodies from tomorrow

In Italy, an antibody test study with approximately 150,000 participants will be launched tomorrow to determine the actual number of coronavirus infections. The Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Statistics, together with the National Red Cross, intend to carry out blood tests of people from 2,000 different locations, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Health in Rome.

A representative selection of participants will be asked to help by phone, but participation is voluntary, and the data will be anonymized for the researchers. According to Italian virologists, there are indications that there were already some initial cases of coronavirus in Italy in December.

These kinds of tests can be used to determine if someone has already been infected with coronavirus and has antibodies in their blood. Thus, contact with the virus can also be detected in people who have had little or no symptoms of Covid-19.

12:56 Regional associations call for DFB to cancel third division league

The football associations of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have called on the German Football Association (DFB) to cancel the third division league because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to various media reports, a corresponding request to be put to the DFB Bundestag on Monday was made to the association on Friday.

It demands that there should be no relegations in regional leagues this season. At the same time, those teams currently looking at promotion to the 2. Bundesliga should move up, along with the team currently in third place as of the 27th match day – instead of having the usual play-offs.

In their application, the two associations refer to the different coronavirus restrictions still in force in all federal states, which do not allow for fair competition.

12:42 Lifting coronavirus restrictions in Thuringia draws criticism

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach has strongly criticized the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions. "We have no new information regarding the danger of the virus," Lauterbach told the "Saarbrücker Zeitung", adding that Thuringia was now reviewing precisely those measures that had led to all the current success.

"Ramelow is relativizing the disease," said Lauterbach. He stressed that coronavirus mortality remains high, especially in elderly people. There was also often lasting damage. In addition, there is neither an effective drug nor a vaccination, the health expert emphasized. "There is therefore no reason to stop doing those things that have been so hard to adapt to – such as keeping our distance and wearing masks."

In the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper, Ramelow argued that infection rates were low: "We made this decision in March on the basis of an estimated 60,000 infections – we now have 245 cases," he told the newspaper. The success showed that the harsh measures had been the right thing to do, but now there had to be realistic consequences.

12:20 Altmaier: Bring reliefs forward

Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) wants to bring forward reliefs planned for 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis. According to the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe, he was referring to the second stage increase to child benefits and the planned adjustment of the so-called bracket creep.

The coalition had agreed to increase child benefits by another 15 euros in the coming year. The bracket creep is the effect where rising incomes push earners into higher tax brackets, thus leaving less money to spend.

In order to relieve the economy, Altmaier has also proposed a stress test ("Belastungs-Tüv") for already agreed laws that have not yet entered into force. "We must prevent, suspend or postpone new burdens, taxes and reporting obligations wherever possible," said the minister.

11:47 Open-air stage season will remain essentially cancelled

Despite hopes for further easing of the theatrical restrictions during the coronavirus crisis, many open-air theatres no longer expect the season to resume on a larger scale. "An open-air summer as one is used to will not be possible under the existing conditions. Even if the restrictions were to be extensively relaxed, too many problems would remain for a regular season," said Herbert Knecht, Chairman of the Association of German Open-Air Theatres (VDF) North.

The majority of the planned productions have to be cancelled. The coronavirus crisis has brought rehearsals and preparations for new productions on the stages to an abrupt halt. "There is no way to make up for this, even if we are allowed to be on stage together again," said Knecht. If audience numbers have to be significantly reduced in order to comply with distance rules, every theatre has to wonder what would still be economical.

11:05 China willing for international investigation subject to conditions

According to its Foreign Minister, China is prepared to cooperate with international investigators in the search for the origin of the novel coronavirus. The investigation must, however, be free of political interference, Wang Yi told journalists in Beijing.

Wang once again strongly denied accusations by Washington that the virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. He accused the USA of spreading rumours about the origin of the virus in order to stigmatise China.

The USA and other states have long been demanding more transparency from Beijing about the origin of the pandemic.

10:49 Brinkhaus criticizes corporations for paying dividends

Union faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus has criticized corporations that pay dividends to shareholders while simultaneously claiming short-time work benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic. "I think this sends the wrong signal", the CDU politician told the newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung".

"The shareholders benefit from the fact that the community of solidarity with their money ultimately also maintains the value of the company. If they receive a dividend on top of that, it is unfair to the taxpayers and also to the employees. Among the companies that have paid dividends despite short-time working is, for example, the car manufacturer BMW.

10:43 Freelancers push for improvements in state aid

The Federal Association of Freelancers (BFB) has called for an extension and expansion of the emergency aid programs for freelancers in the coronavirus crisis. "The corona rescue umbrella leaves small businesses, especially freelancers, in the cold. There is an urgent need to follow up on the emergency aid and credit offers," said BFB President Wolfgang Ewer to the newspapers of the Funke Media Group.

Ewer called for an extension of the deadline for applying for state emergency aid. This is scheduled to expire on May 31. However, Ewer said that for many freelancers, turnover and liquidity would only break down with a time delay. "Applications should therefore not only be possible until the end of May, but at least until the end of August." In addition, Ewer demanded an expansion of the aid. "Emergency aid should be expanded to cover living expenses and not just operating funds," said the BFB president. Many freelancers would be able to cover their living expenses from their current income and in many cases their homes also serve as their workplaces.

10:38 Ramadan ends in the shadow of corona

After weeks of deprivation the month of Ramadan ends today for millions of Muslims worldwide - in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis. Normally people come together in mosques and with their families to pray and celebrate together. However, this year this will only be possible to a limited extent. Even in the predominantly Muslim countries in Asia and in the Arab world, there are strict exit restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.

10:14 Number of deaths in Russia increases slightly faster

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Russia is increasing at a slightly faster rate. Authorities today officially reported 153 more deaths than yesterday - the highest increase since the outbreak in the country. A total of 3,541 deaths have been recorded there so far. The number of infections has now reached 344,481. The only countries with more cases worldwide are Brazil (more than 347,000 infections) and the USA (more than 1.6 million).

09:56 Laboratory in Wuhan denies all accusations

The Virology Laboratory in Wuhan has once again denied all accusations of being the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. The US government led by President Donald Trump, in particular, has repeatedly named the facility as the originator of the virus. The head of the institute, Wang Yanyi, stated that this was a pure fabrication.

They did not know about the existence of the virus at first, so how could it have escaped from the laboratory, she is quoted by Chinese state media. The scientists received the first samples of the previously unknown lung disease at the end of December, but had not been exposed to Covid-19 before.

Although the institute had been working on corona viruses from bats, none of these virus strains caused the pandemic.

09:37 Vatican Museums to reopen on June 1st

The world-famous Vatican Museums will reopen their doors on June 1 following the coronavirus lockdown. Visitors will have to wear protective masks, observe distance rules, and have their body temperature measured at the entrance, as announced by the museums in Rome. Tickets must be booked in advance.

The museum on the Vatican City State's grounds displays Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Stanzas, and countless sculptures and paintings since ancient times. It was closed on March 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo, located some 30 kilometres south-east of Rome, will also reopen on June 1. St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican has been open again since 18 May.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 431 new cases of CoViD-19 (178,281 total) and 31 new deaths (8,247 total) due to the virus
  • Before the holiday season: Doctors warn against second corona wave
  • Wolfgang Schäuble: Protests demonstrate an open society
  • Decreasing death rates in New York City