Angela Merkel says Germany 'still at the beginning' of coronavirus pandemic

Angela Merkel is urging caution about lifting restrictions in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the economic and social upheaval from the pandemic has turned the world upside down.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the economic and social upheaval from the pandemic has turned the world upside down. Source: AAP

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Thursday to show endurance and discipline to get through the coronavirus pandemic that is "still at the beginning", and called for a bigger European Union budget to support economic recovery in the bloc.

Ms Merkel is worried that Germans are relaxing their social distancing efforts after the federal and regional governments agreed to reopen some shops this week.

Germany has the fifth highest COVID-19 caseload behind the United States, Spain, Italy and France, but has kept fatalities down after early and extensive testing.

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With eased restrictions people made the most of a sunny day in Berlin.
With eased restrictions people made the most of a sunny day in Berlin. Source: AAP


Germany has reported 148,046 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 5,094 deaths, but the latest figures showed cases where people recovered outnumbering new infections.

"Nobody likes to hear it, but it is the truth. We are not living in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning. We will have to live with virus for long time," Ms Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Germany's gradual easing of restrictions provides for social distancing rules to remain in place until 3 May. Schools will start opening from 4 May, with priority for final-year students. Hairdressers can also reopen then.

Ms Merkel and state leaders will meet again on 30 April to review how to proceed after 3 May.

Retailers whose shops are up to 800 square metres are now allowed to open, along with car and bicycle dealers, and bookstores, though they must practise strict social distancing and hygiene rules.

Ms Merkel urged Germans to respect the rules.



Turning to the EU's response to the economic impact of the virus, Merkel said calls from some EU countries for common debt with common liabilities were not the right way to go.

Instead, she called for a European economic package aimed at supporting an upswing in the coming two years.

She said it was clear that "in the spirit of solidarity, we should be prepared, over a limited period of time, to make very different - meaning much higher - contributions to the EU budget."

Germany is in a severe recession, according to the central bank, the Bundesbank.

The government has responded with measures including a €750 billion ($A1.27 billion) stimulus package.

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3 min read
Published 24 April 2020 at 11:10am
Source: Reuters,SBS