Germany finishes first phase of pandemic, eases lockdown measures

Germany finishes first phase of pandemic, eases lockdown measures
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday that Germany would begin its next phase of reopening the country's economy after reporting a decrease in rates of new coronavirus infections. 

Merkel told a group of reporters that the virus has a daily infection rate of less than one person, allowing German officials to reopen some nonessential businesses and relax restrictions on public life, according to Reuters.  

“We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system ... so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures,” Merkel reportedly said.

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People from two households can now meet, and businesses will continue to operate special sanitation procedures in order to stay open. The country's soccer league will also restart games later in May.

Masks will still be required on public transport, according to Merkel, and long-term care homes will allow residents to receive visits from designated contact persons.

Merkel went on to warn, however, that the increased human contact from the relaxation of the orders could result in a resurgence of the virus if officials and residents are not careful.

“We now face a phase in which there will be a lot more contact than was the case up to now," Merkel said.

“We are following a bold path,” she continued. “We can afford to be a bit bold but we must remain cautious.”

Germany implemented strict lockdown guidelines in March, and has credited its low numbers of deaths and coronavirus infections to those procedures. The country has recorded about 167,000 cases of the virus and under 7,000 deaths.