Germany outlines plan to relax coronavirus lockdown, resume daily life

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Germany has drafted a plan to scale back its coronavirus lockdown and allow a gradual return to public life, although Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is still too early to end restrictive measures.

Germany’s Interior Ministry wrote the measures, which include a list of steps that require masks to be worn in public, a limit on public gatherings and tracing infection chains to control any future spreading of COVID-19, Reuters reported.

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The document, seen by the outlet on Monday, assumes the pandemic will last until 2021.

Germans have been under lockdown since March 22. The order is set to expire on April 19, but German officials say it could be a long time before the lockdown is scaled back.

Merkel briefed the media about measures the German government is taking to avoid further spread of the coronavirus at the chancellery in Berlin on Monday. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)

Merkel briefed the media about measures the German government is taking to avoid further spread of the coronavirus at the chancellery in Berlin on Monday. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)

Merkel told reporters Monday at a press briefing that it is too early to discuss an end date to restrictive measures as "we're still living in the pandemic.”

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“We would be a bad government if we did not intensively, day and night, consider how we can take steps to return to ordinary life while still protecting health,” Merkel said, adding that she'd be a bad chancellor if she set an immediate date to end restrictions.

The drafted plan says its measures will be enough to keep the average number of people infected by a single person below one whenever the country ends its lockdown.

Germany has drafted a plan which will require citizens to wear masks in public if the country's lockdown is lifted on April 19. (Joerg Carstensen/dpa via AP)

Germany has drafted a plan which will require citizens to wear masks in public if the country's lockdown is lifted on April 19. (Joerg Carstensen/dpa via AP)

While strict social distancing measures will remain in place, stores will be allowed to reopen, along with schools in select regions, and border closures will be relaxed. Private parties and other large events will remain banned, according to the new plan.

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The document says a system is in place capable of allowing officials to track more than 80 percent of people who have had contact with an infected person within 24 hours of diagnosis. The infected and those who have been in close contact with them will face quarantine at home or in hotels.

The virus has sickened at least 100,132 people in Germany and killed 1,584 as of Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported that the 3,677 new cases Monday were notoriously lower than the 5,936 new infections on Sunday, marking the fourth straight drop in the daily rate of new cases.