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15 Apr 2020 | 04:25 PM UTC

Germany: Chancellor Merkel announces partial reopening of shops from COVID-19 closure beginning week of April 20 /update 22

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announces partial reopening of shops in country beginning week of April 20, as Germany takes limited steps to ease coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions; follow authorities’ directives



On Wednesday, April 15, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would partially reopen shops beginning the week of April 20, as the country had realized "fragile intermediate success" in curbing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within its borders. Social-distancing and hygiene ordinances are to remain in place until at least Sunday, May 3; Merkel and German governors are scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 30, to devise plans for how to move forward vis-à-vis COVID-19 restrictions past May 3. German federal and state governments are advising Germans to wear face masks when shopping and on public transportation. Merkel added that schools are scheduled to begin reopening from Monday, May 4. Restaurants, cafés, bars, cinemas, and music venues are expected to remain closed, and religious gatherings suspended; large public events have been suspended until August 31. Grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, post offices, and delivery services are excluded from the closures.

On Monday, April 6, German authorities announced that all travelers will be placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival as of Friday, April 10. Health-sector employees living in border regions outside Germany, as well as business travelers or technicians entering the country for a short period of time, are exempted from the restriction.

On Sunday, March 22, authorities announced a ban on gatherings of more than two people. German citizens are also advised to keep contact with people outside of their own household to a minimum and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 m (5 ft), preferably 2 m (6.5 ft), between themselves and others in public.

Controls along Germany's borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Denmark remain in place. The restrictions do not affect German citizens reentering the country and do not apply to commuters and goods traffic.

As of April 15, 133,456 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Germany, including 3592 associated deaths. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease. 

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