This is the live blog for March 25, 2020.

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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 using the combination of custom-trained machine translation models and expert linguists to provide these translations.

We are publishing translations between 09:00 am CET and 17:30 pm CET

17:44 That's it for today! Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

You can follow additional live updates on Tagesschau (German only).

17:13 Virologist Kekulé recommends face masks for everyone

Virologist Alexander Kekulé recommends face masks for all people. "Recent data from Hong Kong show that simply wearing these masks has a significant effect in bringing the disease under control," he told MDR Aktuell. Simple face masks for everyone would be especially useful in two to three weeks when we slowly return to normal life. At that point it will be a matter of "primarily protecting the risk groups, such as the elderly and people with previous illnesses", he said.

5:02 p.m. Merkel's second coronavirus test negative

The second test with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the coronavirus was also negative, a government spokesman said. "The Chancellor will continue to work out of the domestic quarantine and will be tested again at the beginning of next week."

16:58 Spahn wants a concept for a way out of the crisis

Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to develop a concept for a way back to normality in the coronavirus crisis. "The question of how we emerge from this crisis mode is becoming more important every day", he told the newspaper "Die Zeit". He said it was about making public life possible again in times of epidemic. "I want to be able to have a good answer to this question by Easter at the latest." New solutions must also be considered.

16:45 Aid package agreed upon

The parliament has passed the billion-euro aid package in the coronavirus crisis in record time. It includes measures to save jobs and businesses, to support hospitals, and to secure the livelihood and housing of citizens. The Federal Council still has to approve the package on Friday.

16:34 Debt deferral for the poorest countries?

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have asked that debt repayment not be demanded from the poorest countries for the time being. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to have "serious economic and social consequences" for the world's poorest countries, the two financial institutions said. Debt payments should be deferred.

16:17 Debt freeze suspended

Parliament has implemented the emergency regulation of the debt freeze for aid packages in the coronavirus crisis. This enabled the federal government on Wednesday to take out new loans in the amount of 156 billion euros. The exception to the debt freeze was voted on by 469 members of parliament on Wednesday, with three votes against and 55 abstentions, according to Parliament President Wolfgang Schäuble.

15:56 Tenants should be protected from lease terminations

Debtors and tenants should be better protected in the coronavirus crisis. Parliament has decided that debtors who are unable to fulfil their contractual obligations due to the coronavirus pandemic can temporarily suspend their payments. Consumers and micro-enterprises are to be guaranteed that they will not be cut off from services involving electricity, gas and telecommunications. Currently, landlords can terminate a lease if no rent is paid for two consecutive months. The law now prohibits such terminations from 1 April to 30 June; the regulation can initially be extended until the end of September.

15:43 No worries at Antarctic research station Neumayer-III

The station is already in isolation and has little to fear at the moment: For the residents of the German Antarctic research station Neumayer-III there is no danger of infection for the time being. "No personnel exchange is planned at our station, and no aircraft will come here during the Antarctic winter", station manager Klaus Guba told dpa. The station will probably be cut off from the world until the end of October. Depending on the situation in Germany in the fall however, there may well be restrictions, for example with the planned arrival of new residents at the end of October. "Normally we should have supplies for two years - in addition we also have a greenhouse", says Guba.

15:33 Quorum: one quarter of the members is sufficient

In order to be able to function during the coronavirus crisis, the parliament will now be able to reach a quorum with only more than a quarter of the members of parliament present. This was decided by parliament with only three abstentions from the ranks of the AfD Group. Until now, a quorum required more than half of the Members of Parliament (355). In future, only 178 MEPs will be required.

15:22 Assange: Application for release rejected

The application to release Julian Assange on bail because of the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected. This was reported by the British news agency PA. The lawyers of the 48-year-old Australian-born Assange had argued that he was particularly at risk from the lung disease CoViD-19 because of his frail health in prison.

15:19 150,000 Germans returned to Germany

The German government, together with tour operators and Lufthansa, has now brought back more than 150,000 Germans who were stranded abroad because of the coronavirus crisis. 17,000 had been flown out on planes chartered by the Foreign Ministry, said the ministry's deputy spokesman, Rainer Breul. The recovery effort, which started at the beginning of last week, involves a total of approximately 200,000 travelers. "We still have a long way to go," said Breul.

15:05 Parliament adopts supplementary budget

Parliament has adopted the supplementary budget to finance the aid packages in the coronavirus crisis. It will create a new debts of 156 billion euros. The plan is up for approval by the Federal Council on Friday.

15:02 Putin postpones referendum on constitutional reform

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia's President Vladimir Putin postponed the referendum on a planned constitutional reform. People should now "stay at home", the head of state said in a television address. At the same time he ordered that Russians should not go to work next week in order to slow down the spread of the virus. The referendum would have paved the way for him to run for another term in office.

14:58  High school exit examinations to take place as planned

High school exit examinations should now take place as planned. At this point in time, a cancellation of examinations is not necessary, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) of the federal states declared after a telephone conference of the ministers, according to the news agency AFP and SWR. The students can receive their diplomas this school year. The Ministers of Culture had discussed this previously during a telephone conference. The background was an initiative by Schleswig-Holstein's Minister of Education, Karin Prien (CDU), for a "Recognition Certificate" without final examinations, which also caused some displeasure among the ministers of education.

14:48 Tax-free premium payments for employees?

Workers providing particular services during the coronavirus crisis are to be financially rewarded. Union and SPD representatives in the parliament are asking for  tax-free premium payments to employees. "We should support special services during the coronavirus crisis with tax incentives. If an employer pays its employees a premium for their efforts, this should be tax-exempt", says Andreas Jung, vice faction leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group: "Many employees did outstanding work and literally kept things going. "The state can shoulder the costs. The Ministry of Finance should implement this promptly."

14:43 Futurologist: crisis strengthens society

The futurologist Horst Opaschowski assumes that Germany will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic as a strengthened society. "A society of self-help is being formed based with the view of being dependent on each other," said Opaschowski to the "Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland". A larger "participatory, cohesive or co-determining society" would be a gain from this crisis, he added. "Policymakers can no longer do whatever they want."

14:26  Schleswig-Holstein: High school graduation exams to proceed as planned

Schleswig-Holstein will not cancel the high school graduation examinations due to the coronavirus crisis afterall. This was reported to the news agency dpa by participants in a conference call meeting of the  Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs Countries (KMK). During the meeting, "very clear words" were spoken in the direction of Schleswig-Holstein. The Education Minister of Kiel, Karin Prien, had
announced on Tuesday that she wanted to cancel all high school
graduation exams due to the coronavirus crisis.

14:23 NRW wants to release prisoners

The North Rhine-Westphalian state government wants to release prisoners early because of the coronavirus crisis. It needs to free up approximately 1000 cells to create quarantine zones in the event of an outbreak of the disease within the prisons, said North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister of Justice Biesenbach. However, this is only a matter of an interruption or a suspension of sentences. For less serious cases with sentences up to one and a half years imprisonment, the sentence will be suspended if the term would have been served by the end of July 2020 regardless. This release action does not apply to sex offenders, serious violent offenders or deportation candidates.

13:58 Germans buy four times as much soap as usual

Now it's official: toilet paper sales have soared by 211 percent according to an evaluation of retail sales figures by the Federal Statistical Office. In the case of soap, the figures were "more than four times as high as in the previous six months", with an increase of 337 percent. According to these figures, demand for toilet paper (up 211 percent), rice (up 208 percent), and strained tomatoes (up 171 percent) was also significantly higher than usual. According to the Federal Statistical Office, sales of sugar, flour, and pasta last week were roughly twice as high as the average for the six month period of August to January. In contrast, retail beer sales fell in recent weeks, in some cases by almost ten percent. According to the statisticians, the demand for disinfectants initially rose more than eight-fold in the first week of March (plus 751 percent), but then fell again significantly. Last week sales were only half as strong as usual. According to the statisticians, however, this development is simply "due to the fact that the product was temporarily practically sold out".

13:44 Romanian army supports the police

The Romanian army will help the police control the curfew in Romania, following an order issued by the Minister of the Interior Marcel Vela. Soldiers in all-terrain vehicles could be seen on the streets of Bucharest. At present, even during the day, people are only allowed to leave the house for urgently needed shopping, doctor's visits, or to get to work - older people are only allowed out between 11:00 and 13:00.

13:30 Lower Saxony launches its own 4.4 billion euro aid package

Lower Saxony has launched its own 4.4 billion euro aid package. The state parliament voted unanimously for a supplementary budget and an increased guarantee limit. The money is intended to support the economy and the healthcare system. "We want to defend the economic strength of our country at all costs," said Minister President Stephan Weil. "We are doing this above all in order to save millions of jobs in our country."

13:24 China lifts the Hubei blockade

In China, the blockade of Hubei province has been lifted for the most part. Since midnight, most of the inhabitants are allowed to leave the province under the condition that they are healthy. The Chinese authorities have not reported any new coronavirus patients that were infected within China - only 47 infected persons who entered from abroad.

13:18 Ethiopia releases 4000 prisoners because of the coronavirus

Ethiopia wants to release more than 4000 prisoners from prisons because of the coronavirus crisis. Prisoners to be released are mainly prisoners who were about to be released anyway, or who were convicted of minor offences, explained Attorney General Adanech Abebe.

13:16 Merkel wants an international strategy for the G20

The German government wants to advocate a globally coordinated strategy at the special summit of the G20 states on the coronavirus crisis. "It is important that this meeting leads to further strengthening of international cooperation within the circle of the G20", said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The heads of state and government plan to discuss the crisis in a video conference on Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel is still under voluntary quarantine after she had contact with an infected doctor. She is currently conducting "important international talks from home", Seibert said.

13:06 Hesse to proceed with high school examinations

The Hessian Abi examinations have been continued as planned with the subject mathematics. Exams for French will take place on Thursday. Hesse does not see any conflict with the strict contact restrictions that have been issued. The exams are taking place under tightened hygienic conditions. The schools are instructed to keep the examination groups small and the distances between the exam candidates large. The state ministers of education and cultural affairs will discuss today how to proceed with the upcoming graduation exams. Schleswig-Holstein wants to cancel the exams altogether while other states had postponed them.

12:55 Putin to hold TV address

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin wants to address the coronavirus pandemic today during a television address. This has become “necessary," said Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov. Mr. Putin rarely addresses the public on television besides holding New Year’s speeches. He has additionally stressed various times that the situation in the country would be under control.

12:36 Pope asks God for help

Pope Franciscus has asked god for help to master the corona crisis. "At this moment, we want to ask for grace for humanity, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic," said the Pontiff before the Our Father, which Christians of all denominations should recited together. "We do it together, Christians of every church and congregation, of every age, every language, and every nation." He prayed for the sick and their families, as well as for the staff in public authorities and hospitals.

12:34 Higher limit for contactless payments

Mastercard has raised the cap for contactless payments without entering a PIN from 25 to 50 euro. The raise applies to Germany and other European countries. Many businesses encourage customers contactless to prevent potential virus transmission via cash money or a bank card.

12:24 RKI: Stay in corona risk area no longer test criterion

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has changed its approach in tackling the pandemic when it comes to corona virus tests. The previous criterion, patients staying in an area with covid-19 cases, has been dropped, said RKI President Lothar Wieler. In light of the increasing spread of the pathogen, it no longer makes sense to distinguish between individual areas." The Institute will assess how classify other countries or regions as risk areas in the future.

12:04 Medical Chamber: State must provide protective equipment

In the opinion of the Medical Chamber of Lower Saxony, the state must equip all doctors and caregivers who are combating the corona virus with protective clothing. No one can demand from doctors that they treat patients with covid-19 without protection, according to the President of the Chamber, Martina Wenker. Only protected doctors and caregivers can function in the health care system for a longer period: "We need healthy doctors and caregivers to heal as many patients as we can". It would be unacceptable for medical practices to close because doctors and caregivers who work there are home sick due to a lock of protective equipment," Wenker continued.

11:58 Spain records higher corona death toll than China

The coronavirus death toll in Spain has exceeded China. The government in Madrid reports that 3,434 people have died of the covid-19 lung disease caused by the corona virus. A further 738 deaths have been recorded in a single day.

11:58 Prince Charles infected with coronavirus

The successor to the British throne Prince Charles has been infected with the coronavirus. Queen Elizabeth II's eldest son has tested positively for the pathogen, according to information from his London residence Clarence House. The 71-year-old is currently suffering from mild symptoms of the covid-19 lung disease caused by the pathogen, but is otherwise “doing fine”.

11:46 Around 4,000 corona patients in German hospitals

According to the German Hospital Federation (DKG), around 1,000 corona patients are currently being treated in intensive care centers, with a total of up to 4,000 corona patients currently being treated in German hospitals, said DKG President Gerald Gaß to the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. In the coming days, he expects another significant increase in the number of infections: "I expect that there will be approx. 70,000 registered infections by the end of this week," said Gaß. The real figure is likely to be significantly higher, experts estimating it to be at least 10 times higher. Accordingly, around 700,000 German citizens would be infected.

11:34 Seasonal workers no longer allowed to enter country

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has ordered an entry ban for seasonal workers. Harvesters and other seasonal workers will be denied entry from today, 5 p.m., within the framework of existing border controls, according to a spokesperson. The regulation will apply to those entering from non-EU states, from the UK, from EU states that do not fully apply Schengen rules, such as Bulgaria and Romania, as well as for states such as Poland or Austria, countries with which internal border controls have been reintroduced temporarily." These restrictions are "necessary to break chains of infection". Many farmers are in need of laborers for their harvesting and sowing. Associations and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture have set up Internet platforms to bring companies and volunteers who could work in the fields into contact.

11:28 Hair trimmers in hot demand

The corona crisis changes the ways in which Germans buy – not only in supermarkets, where they are currently buying masses of toilet paper, preserves, and pasta. Online retailer Otto sees a strong rise in demand for hair and beard trimmers, according to a statement of Managing Director Marc Opelt to the "Bild" newspaper. On a normal day, Otto sells about 30 units each day – "currently, we are selling between 250 and 300”. Sports goods such as free weights show a similar trend: orders have increased six-fold, for printers and swivel chairs – important items for a home office – demand is twice as high. More and more people are buying televisions, boardgames, webcams, fever thermometers, freezer cabinets, and bread makers as well. According to Opelt, there are no supply bottlenecks . All restaurants as well as service companies with close physical contact, such as hairdressers, massage parlors, and cosmetic studios have to close in Germany.

11:11 Unprecedented collapse Ifo index

The Ifo business climate has collapsed in an unprecedented manner. In March, the index dropped to 86.1 points, after reaching 96.0 points a month earlier, the Ifo Institute reported. This is the strongest drop in the most important German economic barometer since the German reunification and the lowest score since July 2009, the institute adds. The economic expectations of companies have above all deteriorated sharply. "The German economy is in state of shock," said Ifo President Clemens Fuest about the data. The Ifo business climate is based on a survey among around 9,000 companies.

11:05 Rules for reporting sick once again eased

In light of the crisis, the rules for reporting sick for work are relaxed further in Germany. From now on, patients with mild upper respiratory diseases or a suspicion of coronavirus can be issued a certificate of incapacity to work for up to 14 days after a consultation via phone. It is no longer necessary to visit a medical practice. The regulation will initially be valid until 23 June, as reported by the umbrella association of statutory health and care insurances in Germany. Doctors have been able to certify employee sickness via phone for around two weeks already.

10:49 RKI: Only test people with symptoms

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) cannot yet assess whether the measures against the spread of the coronavirus are effective. "We will need to wait longer to see if the measures are taking effect," said President of the RKI Lothar Wieler. It is still too early to assess this. He reaffirmed that Germany is still at the beginning of the spread. Wieler says that it is still impossible to foresee when the restrictions in Germany could be loosened. The epidemic will securely plague Germany "for a few weeks". It is important that people keep distance and that sick people stay home.

The TKI changes its criteria according to which possible cases of covid-19 will be tested. Generally, only people with symptoms will be tested. This will save resources at laboratories. Those who have only minor symptoms should simply stay home. The ICC advises that ill and infected people wear a protective mask. The most common route of transmission is through droplets.

10:32 France calls on the unemployed to work on the fields

France has called on the unemployed to work in the fields. Around 200,000 seasonal workers are lacking in the countryside. Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume said that all currently unemployed French should volunteer. "We have to produce to feed our French citizens." The strawberry farmers are concerned, among others. They are now missing seasonal workers who usually arrive from Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Poland to France.

10:19 Federal Council does not object to supplementary budget

The Federal Council does not object to the supplementary budget planned by the Federal Government to finance the corona aid packages. In a special session, the Chamber of States voted to immediately forward their opinion on the draft law to the Federal Parliament. The meeting lasted only a few minutes, there were no speeches. The Federal Parliament now wants to make haste and approve the supplementary budget today. The Chamber of States will hold a legislative vote on the supplementary budget during a further special session on Friday.

09:59 Stock markets surging

The US economic recovery package to combat the coronavirus crisis is driving up stocks. On the German stock market, the DAX rose by 10,000 points at the start of trading over the mark. Compared to the low of the previous week, the DAX has now recovered by more than 20 percent. The Dow Jones recorded yesterday the largest daily gain since 1933. The U.S. stock market barometer rose by 11.4 percent to 20,705 points.

9:39 Ministers of Education to discuss Abitur examinations

The Ministers of Education and Culture are to discuss this year’s Abitur examinations. A telephone conference is scheduled at noon, said a spokesperson of the Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) – the assembly of the ministers of education of the German states. Discussions will revolve around the Abitur as well as other school-leaving qualifications. It has remained unclear whether the results of the consultations can be expected by Wednesday. There is dispute among the states as to how students should obtain their Abitur qualification in view of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Schleswig-Holstein's Minister of Education and Culture Karin Prien (CDU) spoke in favor of a "recognized Abitur" without the need for final examinations. This was met with strong opposition by the other states. Schools and nurseries in Germany have been closed since last week.

9:19 Scholz: "Unprecedented crisis"

"We are experiencing a crisis that is unprecedented in the history of Germany," said the Federal Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, at the beginning of the Bundestag debate on the aid package. The crisis had shown how vulnerable everyone was. "What we need now is solidarity." Germany is also standing side by side with its European partners. "This is not a matter for us alone. We stand together." The Federal Government is doing everything possible and necessary to alleviate the economic consequences of the crisis. "There is no script," said Scholz. It is about three things: good health care, ensuring the livelihood of those affected, and protecting jobs and businesses.

08:56 RKI: Approx. 31,500 cases and 149 deaths

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has reported 31,554 coronavirus infections in Germany – an increase of 4,118 since Tuesday. The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the USA reported 32,991 cases. The RKI, which only takes into account electronically transmitted figures from the federal states and updates its records once a day, has recorded 149 deaths so far. The JHU has recorded 159.

08:34 Vietnam no longer exporting rice

Vietnam has halted its rice exports to ensure the food supply of its own population. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, there is also a severe drought in the south of the country, said the government. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also ordered that additional rice stocks be bought. Customs have advised all departments to stop authorizing rice exports. Vietnam is the third largest exporter of rice in the world after India and Thailand.

08:23 Scholz proposes payment of extra allowances

Federal Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, is proposing tax-free allowances in order to support workers in a timely manner. His ministry is currently examining whether such extra allowances are possible, the SPD politician told the "Bild" newspaper. Consideration is being given to payments up to a certain scale - with a regulation that the financial offices can meet.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, fears domestic violence could rise during quarantine in Germany. Israel cracks down on curfews. The US government agrees to a 2 billion USD aid package to help citizens and the economy. India prohibits the export of Malaria medicines containing Hydroxychloroquine, and the textile industry in Germany unites to produce protective gowns.