Across Germany, smaller stores were allowed to open their doors for the first time in nearly a month on Monday, as part of initial measures to ease restrictions imposed in March as the coronavirus outbreak took hold.
Stores no larger than 8,600 square feet were allowed to open, but customers are required to maintain a safe distance. Car dealerships, bicycle shops and bookstores are allowed to resume business, regardless of size. Germany has recorded 141,672 coronavirus infections, with 4,404 fatalities, but the rate of infection has been steadily slowing in recent days and the country’s health system has been able to cope with the strain.
Germany’s 16 states are allowed to set their own regulations within a wider national framework. Some are allowing zoos to reopen, and three areas are requiring people to cover their mouths and noses on public transportation or inside stores. Only the eastern state of Saxony has allowed churches to begin holding services again, and some states are allowing schools to hold final exams for high school seniors.
Germans are still required to maintain a distance of at least five feet from one another at all times until the end of April, when Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet with state governors to reassess the situation. Regardless of the outcome of that meeting, all large gatherings have been banned until the end of summer.