Germany extends social distancing guidelines but will allow some shops to reopen

Germany extends social distancing guidelines but will allow some shops to reopen
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Some shops in Germany will be allowed to reopen next week, but the social distancing guidelines put in place in response to the coronavirus outbreak will be extended into May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday. 

Merkel laid out a plan for starting to loosen restrictions after speaking with Germany’s 16 state governors, The Associated Press reports. 

The country’s ban on gatherings of more than two people in public and requirement for people to keep a distance of 1.5 meters, or about five feet, from each other will remain in place beyond Sunday when it was set to expire. 

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Nonessential shops up to 800 square meters, or 8,600 square feet, will be allowed to reopen with hygiene precautions in place, and auto showrooms, bike shops and bookstores will be allowed to reopen regardless of their size, according to the AP. 

It is not clear when restaurants will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service, the AP reports.

Merkel reportedly said authorities will recommend people wear face masks on public transport or when shopping but are not requiring the use of masks.

The new decision applies starting Monday through May 3. Officials will also reevaluate the situation on April 30, Merkel said.

She reportedly said that preparations are also set for schools to gradually start reopening May 4, with the oldest students going back first. 

Germany has reported 133,456 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,592 deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.