This is the live blog for March 24, 2020.
Head here for today's news: https://www.lengoo.de/blog/03-31-2020-live-blog-for-covid-19-updates-in-germany-in-english/
Many non-German native speakers are facing quite a challenge to stay on top of the news concerning the development of the situation of CoViD-19 specifically in Germany. Because of that, we curate a live blog in English for all people living in Germany. The information published on this site is translated from German and based on the live blog of Tagesschau | We are publishing translations between 09:00 am CET and 17:30 pm CET
17:42 That's it for today! Join us tomorrow for more live updates!
You can follow additional live updates on Tagesschau (German only).
17:22 Scholz considers tax exemption for special bonuses possible
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) is reviewing the extent to which employee bonuses given during the coronavirus crisis can be exempted from tax. "We can probably do that up to a certain limit", he told "Bild live".
17:15 Von der Leyen warns of internet fraud
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU Commission, warns against internet fraud and alleged miracle cures for the coronavirus. Criminals are taking advantage of concerns about the pandemic, von der Leyen said. "Our fear becomes their business idea." The number of internet crimes has increased, as well as the number of fake drugs, sprays, etc. However, von der Leyen emphasized the success of recent search efforts reported by the European police authority Europol.
17:12 Number of deaths in Great Britain increased significantly
The number of infected and the number of deaths has increased significantly in Great Britain. The government announced that 8,077 cases of infection have now been confirmed. On Monday, the number was only 6,650. Within one day 87 people died after testing positive for the coronavirus bringing the total number of deaths to 422.
16:55 DFL presidency recommends Bundesliga postponement until 30 April
The 1st and 2nd Bundesliga may remain suspended until 30 April. This has been recommended by the chair of the German Football League (DFL). The 36 professional clubs will discuss the decision next week.
16:45 Bundestag: Many empty chairs and water from paper cups
In order to prevent infections from the coronavirus, the German parliament will meet tomorrow using extra precautions. Disinfectant dispensers will be placed at the entrances and the doors to the assembly hall will remain open so that they do not need to be touched, stated to Bundestag spokeswoman Eva Haacke. The doors will also be marked with "Entrance" and "Exit" signs to minimize contact between the members. In the assembly hall, chairs will be placed in such a way that the delegates sit farther apart from each other. Politicians will only be allowed to take part in the meeting for those items on the agenda that "concern their respective areas of work". According to Haacke, those who come to the speaker's desk will not be given the usual glass of water, but a paper cup of water. The speaker's desk will be disinfected between speakers. The urns for the vote will not be placed in the assembly hall, but rather in the western lobby where there is more space. The members will also be given one hour to cast their votes which is considerably more time than usual.
16:41 Slovakia tightens protective measures
The new Slovakian government has further tightened the protective measures previously in place. Anyone leaving their homes must wear breathing protection, which covers at least mouth and nose. To monitor potentially infected people, state authorities will in future be allowed to evaluate the mobility data of mobile phone providers. For people aged 65 and over, restricted "senior citizen opening hours" from nine to twelve o'clock will be introduced in grocery stores. If necessary, a complete curfew could also be imposed on certain population groups, said the state health commissioner.
16:32 11,000 applicants want to help RKI in the fight against the coronavirus
A job advertisement for support workers at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) was met with enormous interest. Between Thursday and Monday, 11,000 people had applied as helpers in the fight against the coronavirus, according to the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) in Cologne. The office had advertised the position on behalf of the RKI. Now the most suitable candidates have to be selected from the large number of applicants for the 525 support positions available. The task of the supporters will be to help as "containment scouts" in the next six months by conducting telephone interviews with CoViD-19 infected persons and their contact persons. This will save the Robert Koch Institute resources that it urgently needs in the fight against the virus.
16:10 India imposes curfew on entire population
India has placed its entire population of 1.3 billion people under a curfew. The order is to remain in force for three weeks, as decreed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His government had already recently stopped train service and threatened citizens with consequences if they did not comply with the regulations. "Please save yourself, save your family," wrote Modi on Twitter.
15:51 Brandenburg cancels large-scale events in May and June
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Brandenburg has now also canceled major events scheduled for May and June. The State Chancellery announced that the Brandenburg Agricultural Exhibition, the so-called Brandenburger Land Party, the Brandenburg Summer Evening in Potsdam, and the German-Polish Media Days in Frankfurt on the Oder and Slubice rivers are affected.
15:48 short-time work for around 80,000 VW employees in Germany
At Volkswagen, around 80,000 employees are expected to be put on short-term work due to supply problems and weak sales in the corona crisis in Germany. This was announced within the group. The company has currently temporarily closed its German and European locations as well as other locations in America and Russia.
15:29 Schleswig-Holstein: Minister of Education Prien in favour of cancelling high school graduation examinations
Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU) has spoken out in favor of cancelling high school graduation examinations in Schleswig-Holstein due to the corona pandemic. She will present a resolution proposal to the cabinet on Wednesday, Prien said. Graduation examinations for intermediate and middle school should also be cancelled as a part of the proposal.
15:13 Söder wants an ethical and legal review of measures
Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder (CSU) will begin monitoring measures taken in the corona crisis. At some point, the question will be asked as to whether the restriction of freedom was really necessary, said Söder. The decision was therefore made to carry out monitoring at the ethical, social, and legal level in parallel with the measures deemed necessary in terms of health policy. This is important in order to "always get a reflection of the extent to which all this is compatible and reconcilable with the liberalism of our constitutional state".
14:59 Almost all EU states have implemented a travel ban
The far-reaching ban on entry into the EU during the coronavirus crisis is now being implemented by almost all countries. Only Ireland, which is bound to the UK by the rules of the United Kingdom, is an exception, said a spokesman for the EU Commission. Also, non-EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland participate in the measure, the countries are also members of the Schengen area.
14:57 Saxony wants to retain Czech healthcare workers
In view of the restrictions on Czech commuters due to the coronavirus crisis, Saxony is trying to retain healthcare workers in particular. All Czechs citizens who work in the medical and healthcare sector in Freistatt and stay in Germany will be paid a subsidy for living expenses, said Saxony's Premier Michael Kretschmer (CDU). This would apply to commuters working in clinics and nursing homes, but also to areas such as hospital kitchens or laundries.
14:53 Berlin to offer 350 new overnight accommodations for homeless people
The state of Berlin is making 350 new overnight accommodation spaces available to homeless people. In view of the corona pandemic, these could be used to help homeless people on the street better protect themselves, said Social Senator Elke Breitenbach. These spaces will be available through at least April 19. 200 of these spaces will be available in a youth hostel. In addition, the Cold Weather Assistance Facility on Storkower Strasse should be available for homeless people until at least the end of April. A quarantine station for homeless people is also planned here.
14:46 Massive fall in AirBnB turnover
The coronavirus crisis is also hitting Airbnb hard. In several European countries, sales on the holiday accommodation portal fell by around half between mid-February and mid-March, as reported by the ‘Handelsblatt‘ based on data from the analyst Airdna. Accordingly, sales in Germany in mid-February amounted to 31 million euros, most recent sales were only 16 million euros.
14:43 Unemployment in Norway five-folded within four weeks
Unemployment in Norway has almost grown by a factor of 5 due to the Corona crisis in a short period of time. The unemployment rate climbed to 10.9 percent in March, according to data from the Employment Agency. This is the highest value since the great depression around 80 years ago. At the end of February, unemployment was at 2.3 percent, a week ago it stood at 5.3 percent. The Agency states this happened because many companies had to let employees go due to the coronavirus crisis.
14:34 Rewe plans bonus payments for employees
Germany's second largest food retailer Rewe wants to reward the employees at Rewe, and the company's subsidiary discounter Penny with a bonus for their work in the coronavirus crisis. The Group will have over 20 million euros in hand for this, said a Rewe spokesman.
The respective amount depends on the function and whether it is full-time or part-time work. The bonus payment will be booked as credits to the employee. This advantage of this is that the amount will benefit for the employees as a net payment. At Aldi Süd too, employees may soon be happy about a bonus. "We are currently thinking about how we can show our recognition to our employees for their work," said a company spokesman."
14:32 UN: suspend sanctions during the coronavirus crisis
In the face of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for the suspension of sanctions. She mentioned Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. If the health system in one of the countries is weak, it will increases the risk of further spread of viruses to the whole world, she said. The people of the countries that are subject to sanctions are not responsible for the policy of their government, Bachelet said. She called on the countries concerned to inform transparently about their situation and accept humanitarian aid.
14:18 The public prosecutor's office investigates the CoViD 19 spread in Ischgl
The Innsbruck public prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into the spread of the coronavirus in the popular winter resort of Ischgl. According to the authorities, they are investigating the suspicion that a catering company did not report to the health authorities that an employee had tested positive for the coronavirus at the end of February. The state of Tyrol had forwarded an inquiry from ZDF television with the corresponding suspicion to the public prosecutor's office.
"It is unknown which establishment was involved and whether reporting obligations were actually violated", stated the public prosecutor's office. Therefore, an investigation is now underway. The state of Tyrol and the local tourism industry have been sharply criticised in recent days as ski tourism with its après-ski parties may have increased the international spread of the coronavirus. Ischgl in particular has been targeted in this regard. A bartender at a popular après-ski bar in Ischgl tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on 7 March. The state of Tyrol is accused of not putting a halt to ski operations fast enough. It was only on 15 March that the ski season came to an early end."
13:59 Poland decides on gatherings ban
Poland is pushing for further restrictions on freedom of movement and reduces social contact in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Gatherings of more than two people are no longer allowed, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. "We are buying time to prepare our health care system and provide more hospital beds."
Citizens are obliged to stay in their homes, stressed Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski. Exceptions are to go to work, to the doctor, and food shopping. Walks are also allowed.
13:55 Italians in German clinics
More and more federal states have placed corona patients from Italy in clinics or are planning to do. These include Bavaria, Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Italy is the country most affected by the pandemic in Europe. At the weekend, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg offered to provide intensive beds for coronavirus patients from neighbouring France.
13:30 Volume of containers handled worldwide massively goes down
According to a current estimate by economic researchers, global container handling fell sharply in February. The corresponding index fell by 10.9 to 102.5 points, the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI) and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) in Bremen announced. This is the strongest monthly decline ever observed.
13:19 Olympics postponed
According to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed. He asked the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to postpone the sport event until next year. The step was unavoidable due to the coronavirus pandemic, as the competitions originally scheduled for July and August could not run under the current circumstances, Abe told the NHK television station. The games should now take place in summer 2021 the latest. Prior, several countries had put pressure on the IOC and called for a postponement. Individual countries had already announced that no athletes would be send, should the event take place as planned.
12:58 Söder promises comprehensive guarantee scheme
In order to tackle the corona crisis, the Minister President of Bavaria Markus Söder has added significant means to the state’s economic aid package. Twenty billion euro will be freed up in the budget. He additionally promised companies that the Free State of Bavaria will provide comprehensive guarantees. More staff will be added to the Ministry of Health, including relevant rural offices.
12:51 Leipzig also closes weekly markets
The Saxon city closes its weekly markets because of the coronavirus pandemic. The city government reported that the regulation will take effect immediately and until further notice. The general regulation of the Federal State of Saxony is said to substantiate the closure.
12:40 Professional Schalke soccer players offer to waive salaries
To combat the corona crisis, soccer clubs are also changing their plans: Bundesliga club Schalke 04 plans a comprehensive package of measures to handle financial problems. This would be necessary to preserve the 650 jobs in the club. "We must now take action to financially prepare ourselves to hold out as long as possible and ensure the necessary liquidity," said CEO Alexander Jobst to the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung".
According to Jobst, the professionals are also ready to waive part of their salaries. "When it comes to salaries, the pro players already signaled willingness to do their part a few days ago." The team of coaches around head coach David Wagner as well as the three-member executive board of Jochen Schneider, Peter Peters, and Jobst himself, also want to help out.
12:30 Face masks headed towards Germany have disappeared
At an airport in Kenya, six million face masks heading for Germany have been missing since last week. The General Directorate of Customs has concluded a contract with a German company for the FFP2 type masks, according to a spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Defence in talks with the "Spiegel" newspaper. The agency is currently trying to clear up the situation. No financial damage has been incurred; the masks have not yet been paid. The Procurement Office of the Federal Army is taking charge in purchasing equipment to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
12:22 Will the US be the new epicenter?
According to the World Health Organization WHO, the US could become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States might take over this unwelcome position with the number of cases rising very rapidly, according to WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris. The United States and Europe combined were responsible for 85 percent of the new infections reported in the last 24 hours. Ms. Harris was cautiously optimistic about the situation in Italy, the country with the highest corona death toll so far. In Italy, there is a shimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel, with the latest reports indicating a decline in new diseases and deaths.
12:20 First death in Iceland
Iceland reported its first death attributable to the novel coronavirus. An approximately 70-year-old woman died at Reykjavik University Hospital, according to the clinic. She had tested positive for the coronavirus, but also suffered from a chronic disease. In Iceland, with about 360,000 inhabitants, 588 coronavirus infections have been confirmed so far. The island nation in the North Atlantic closed its secondary schools and universities in mid-March, but primary schools and kindergartens remain open. On Sunday, the government ordered the closure of swimming pools, museums, pubs, and hairdressing salons, while also prohibiting gatherings of more than 20 people.
12:16 Spanish death toll rises by 500 again
In Spain, the number of people infected with the corona virus has increased by 6,600 cases to 39,637. The number of deaths has increased by more than 500 to 2,696 people, as reported by the authorities. Within Europe, only Italy has more infected people and CoViD-19 deaths.
11:41 85 percent of all new infections in Europe and the US
According to the World Health Organization WHO, Europe and the US are now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. 85 percent of new infections in the past 24 hours have been reported in either Europe or the US, according to a spokesperson. The WHO expects that the current global death toll of 14,510 will increase "significantly".
11:38 Chinese Wall partially reopened
The Chinese authorities have lifted some of the restrictions imposed to combat coronavirus. Although most popular tourist attractions in Beijing remain closed, parts of the Chinese Wall have reopened. Some restaurants can be visited again, on condition that guests do not face each other when sitting down.
11:23 Almost 2,000 deaths from coronavirus in Iran
The corona death toll in Iran has increased by 122, to 1,934, within 24 hours, according to the Iranian Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed infections is reported to have increased by 1,762, to 24,811.
According to President Hassan Rouhani, almost half of state officials in the country severely hit by the pandemic no longer report to work to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Of the approximately 2.5 million officials, 1.2 million are said to have stayed home.
11:11 North-Rhine Westphalia: Gatherings with three (or more) people to be fined with 600 euro
North Rhine-Westphalia is looking to severely punish violations of the ban on gatherings and other restrictions. Public gathering of more than two people who are not directly related will result in a fine of 200 euro for each person present. Those participating in picnics and barbecues, which are now forbidden, will be fined 250 euro each. Organisers of sporting events who ignore the ban will be fined 1,000 euro. Eating take-away food within 50 metres of a restaurant or snack bar will cost 200 euro.
Additional fines could be imposed on companies which profit from these infringements. Hygiene-related violations or violations on the ban of visiting facilities, such as retirement homes, will also be costly. The fine for the latter will be 200 euro. Those who continue to operate a bar, a disco, or a fitness studio after being ordered to shut down will be fined even more severely, at 5,000 euro. IF one continues to operate a restaurant, the fine amounts to 4,000 euro.
Minister-President of the State, Armin Laschet, said: "The situation is serious – it is a matter of life and death. That is why we must punish the stubborn, in a consistent and severe manner. We must set an example.”
10:38 Corona rules might be loosened after Easter
The Minister President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil hopes that the most severe restrictions to combat the corona crisis might be loosened a bit after Easer. If we pump the brakes now, we might slow down the epidemic, said Weil to the “Bild” newspaper. Normal everyday life can then be restored little by little over a few weeks. “We’ll take a cautious approach,” says Weil.
10:22 Puma employees will work reduced hours
Sports goods manufacturer Puma is also looking to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak by applying for reduced working hours. The company has applied for reduced hours for its approximately 1,400 employees in Germany for the next three weeks, according to a spokesperson. The Chairman of the Board, Björn Gulden, will "forego salary payment" for the month of April – which is expected to equal around 170,000 euros.
10:10 Special meetings of the Federal Council
The Federal Council convenes for special meetings during the corona crisis on Wednesday and Friday. The Council of States has announced that the session on Wednesday will be used to discuss the overall Federal Supplementary Budget. The Federal Council is given the opportunity to announce its position before the Bundestag is expected to adopt the Supplementary Budget on the same day during a first, second, and third reading. On Friday, the States will discuss the Federal Government’s legislative packages to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the crisis.
10:08 Emergency declared in Thailand
The Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has announced far-reaching measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. His government has decided to declare an emergency, in order to implement stricter rules to control the outbreak, says Chan-o-cha. The emergency will take effect from Thursday and last for a month, granting the government powers it usually does not have.
9:45 Özdemir: Opposition will support coronavirus aid package
The Green politician Cem Özdemir expects that most parties in the Bundestag will agree to the new aid and protection laws. In the SWR radio program he said: "All democratic parties are involved somehow, in that sense these are joint measures involving all democratic parties – and they are appropriate for the crisis." He expects that the new measures will be decided quickly. Anything else would be incomprehensible. This unity, Özdemir continues, is not a permanent state. When the crisis is over, things will go back to normal again: "And then the opposition will also look more closely at the government and leave no stone unturned, as is normal in a democracy." Özdemir himself is infected with coronavirus and therefore in self-isolation at home.
9:38 Coronavirus patients from Italy arrive in Saxony's clinics
The first coronavirus patients from Italy have arrived in Saxony. The critically ill patients landed at Leipzig-Halle Airport in a military plane during the night. They were taken to clinics in emergency vehicles. In total, eight patients will be treated there. According to Prime Minister Kretschmer, Saxony is answering a call from the Italian government. Previously, several other federal states had already received coronavirus patients from France.
9:33 Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dinbango dies after contracting Covid-19
The world-famous saxophonist and Afro-jazz star Manu Dibango has died at the age of 86 as a result of an infection with the novel coronavirus. Dibango died early on Tuesday morning in a French hospital as a result of the Covid-19 lung disease, said Thierry Durepaire, who released special issues of Dibangos music. Dibango is the first world-famous celebrity who has died as a result of coronavirus. He celebrated a worldwide hit in the 1970s with the song “Soul Makossa”.
08:48 WHO warns younger people
The World Health Organization has warned young people not to underestimate the risk of infection. "You are not invincible," said WHO Chief Ghebreyesus. The virus could hospitalize young people for weeks - or even kill them. Data from different countries has shown that people under the age of 50 made up a significant proportion of patients needing hospital treatment.
08:39 Altmaier: Economic aid payments from next week
The payment of federal funds for struggling businesses and self-employed persons is expected to be possible by mid-week at the latest, according to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier. By that point, it should be clear in all federal states which authorities and institutions are paying out the money, the Minister stated in a joint ARD and ZDF morning news program. "And it should be as unbureaucratic as possible, where possible also electronic."
08:19 Trump under pressure
More and more US citizens are accusing the president of playing down the severity of the pandemic and not having the crisis under control, as well as making numerous misleading statements about the coronavirus crisis.
08:00 Here's what happened last night
RKI reports almost 4,800 new cases in Germany, total number of cases in Germany rises to over 27,000. California to double down on curfew: public places, beaches, and parks will be closed to the public. The Hubei province in China loosens measures, people allowed to leave the province after months. Japanese biopharma company Agnes publishes they succeeded in developing a DNA-vaccine that will soon be tested in animal trials.