This is the live blog for April 16, 2020.

Head here for the latest news: https://wwww.lengoo.de/blog/05-26-2020-live-blog-for-covid-19-updates-in-germany-in-english/

Non-German native speakers have a hard time 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 live-translating between 09:00 am CEST and 17:30 pm CEST

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Short Facts

  • RKI: 2900 new corona cases in Germany
  • Federal government passes Corona occupational safety standards
  • More than 20 million Americans registered unemployed last month
  • Trump threatens to order a shut-down for congress
  • Federal states to vote on concept for more emergency care
  • Africa prepares one million tests for corona virus
  • Von der Leyen wants more leeway in the EU budget

17:32 That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

From now on, please head over to Tagesschau to follow the updates (German only).

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17:17 Merkel calls on G7 heads of government to cooperate

Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted on an international response to the fight against the coronavirus at the G7 heads of state and government conference. This was announced by a government spokesperson after the meeting convened by US President Donald Trump. The spokesperson stated that the Chancellor had emphasized the responsibility for the situation in Africa. In addition, Merkel emphasized the importance of the WHO and other international health initiatives in fighting the pandemic.


17:05 Facebook to warn users about false coronavirus messages

Facebook will in future notify its users if they have interacted with dangerous false information about the coronavirus in the online network. These are posts that have been removed because they could cause harm, Facebook said. “Hundreds of thousands" of these have been deleted so far, it said without giving a more precise figure.


16:57 Switzerland relaxes coronavirus measures in three phases

Switzerland wants to relax its coronavirus containment measures in three stages. In a first step, shops and services such as hairdressers, doctors' surgeries, and DIY stores will be allowed to reopen from 27 April, as announced by the government in Bern. The spread of the disease has been slowed down, so the restrictions imposed will be lifted "gradually", according to a statement by the Swiss Federal Council.

Schools, other shops, and markets should be allowed to open from 11 May. Vocational and secondary schools, universities, museums, libraries, and zoos are to be opened from 8 June. Larger public events will remain prohibited until further notice. According to official figures, more than a thousand people in Switzerland died of the lung disease CoViD-19 and more than 26,500 tested positive for the coronavirus.


16:47 German Online Trade Association: criticism because of delays in parcel delivery

The BVOH (Bundes Verband Online Handel - German Online Trade Association) has held parcel service providers such as DHL responsible for delayed deliveries during the coronavirus crisis. It was "in no way acceptable" that DHL, after a four-week lockdown, was not able to plan capacities properly, criticized BVOH  (German Online Trade Association) President Oliver Prothmann. There were no excuses due to lack of capacity, he said, it could only be a matter of bad planning.

According to the association, several retailers reported that companies like DHL had canceled the additional pick-up trips from retailers without any substitutions. "If the parcel service providers had pointed out the bottleneck in time, the retailers could have throttled sales," criticized Prothmann.

Now the packed parcels were at the retailers and would not be delivered. According to BVOH (German Online Trade Association), this means that the purchases are not taken to distribution centers. This delays delivery to the purchasers by several days.


16:37 Association: Emergency day-care center for socially disadvantaged families

In the opinion of the Protestant Association of Diakonie in Germany, families in critical circumstances in life must be taken into special consideration when expanding emergency care in day-care centers. "Children from socially difficult circumstances and with little space must definitely be included," demanded the chairman of the Federal Association of Protestant Day-Care Facilities for Children, Carsten Schlepper, in an interview with the Protestant Press Service. Children from such families in particular need day care that structures their days.

Schlepper said that single parents should also be offered day-care places. This was especially important if they went back to work again after the coronavirus restrictions were relaxed and were dependent on care for their children.

He went on to say that he did not believe that day-care centers in Germany would be able to return to normal operation soon. "In my view, full day care will no longer be available before the summer holidays."


16:21 Lufthansa cancels further long-haul connections

Lufthansa will extend the returnee flight schedule until 17 May because of the continuing travel restrictions. At the same time, the regular flight schedule will be further reduced. The already heavily thinned-down flight schedule was originally valid until 3 May. In view of the low demand, there will now only be 15 weekly long-haul flights between 4 and 17 May. Newark and Chicago in the USA will be served from Frankfurt, as well as Sao Paulo, Bangkok, and Tokyo. The three weekly connections to Montreal, on the other hand, will be canceled.

The airline offers up to 36 daily connections from Frankfurt to the most important cities within Germany and Europe.


16:02 NRW wants to open furniture stores

North Rhine-Westphalia, unlike other federal states, wants to reopen furniture stores. Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann said after a meeting of the state cabinet that if car showrooms could be reopened; as decided by the federal government and states, this could also apply to furniture stores. "We have a clear North Rhine-Westphalia interest in this," stressed Laumann. About 35,000 workers in the federal state worked in the furniture industry: "We are taking a North Rhine-Westphalia way," he added. Other federal states could possibly follow North Rhine-Westphalia.


15:54 Millions of coronavirus tests in Africa

"The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to significantly expand corona testing. From next week onwards, over one million tests will be carried out. This will close the "major gap in evaluating the spread of Sars-CoV-2," announced the head of Africa CDC, John Nkengasong.

"15 million tests might be needed" over the coming three months, he added. According to experts, Africa is weeks behind other continents in the fight against the corona pandemic weeks. Only a small number of tests has been carried out, which suggests that the number of corona cases far exceeds the registered 17,000 African infections.


15:19 "One can't permanently postpone bypasses and joint replacements"

Hospitals ask that the Federal and State Governments already in April greenlight treatments that have been postponed due to the corona pandemic. "We believe it is imperative that the situation in hospitals and the situation of patients on the waiting lists are taken into account in political decisions," said Gerald Gaß, President of the German Hospital Society, to news agency Reuters. "With the current stable corona situation, we are in a position to restart regular hospital operations."

On Wednesday, the Federal and State Government did not accept the relevant demands of hospitals with the first easing of corona restrictions, but they plan to meet again on April 30th. Gaß pointed out that 10,000 intensive care beds and more than 150,000 regular station beds are currently free. It has become clear that free capacity can be maintained during the Corona crisis, even in the coming months. One could also respond to changes in the development of the crisis in the short term. "One cannot permanently postpone bypasses and joint replacements."


15:00 State of corona emergency now applies all over Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the coronavirus state of emergency to the entire country. It will apply from tomorrow until May 6th, when a Japanese holiday period known as the "Golden Week" ends. The aim of the emergency is to limit the movement of people across borders and to ensure that social contacts are avoided by up to 80 percent.

On April 7th, Mr. Abe declared the emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures, where experts say exist the greatest risks of infection. In the fight against the economic consequences of the pandemic, Abe also announced that all 120 million Japanese citizens will receive a sum of approximately 840 euro. Japan has recorded more than 9,000 cases and around 150 deaths.


14:50 Around 22 million Americans register as unemployed

The coronavirus crisis has once again cost millions of Americans their jobs. Approximately 5.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. Within four weeks, more than 20 million Americans registered as unemployed. The initial applications are considered a "real-time indicator" of the economic situation, as they are published with a delay of only one week.

Economists estimate that the world's greatest economic power may have shrunk by up to 10.8 percent in the first quarter. In March, U.S. retailers saw their sales plummet at the sharpest rate since 1992, while industry cut back its production at the sharpest rate since 1946.


14:33 Greek tourism industry: "This year is a disaster"

The travel industry in Greece is expecting heavy losses in 2020. "This year is a disaster," the president of the Association of Greek Travel Agencies, Apostolos Tsilidis, told the news channel Real FM. The losses could reach up to 22 billion euros. The worst thing is that nobody knows if and when air traffic will start again - and under what conditions, Tsilidis said.

Already on Monday, the president of the Greek Hotel Chamber, Alexandros Vassilikos, had described the 2020 season as catastrophic. 65 percent of Greek hoteliers fear that their companies will go bankrupt. 45,000 jobs have already been lost. "Tourism is at zero. The hotels are sending SOS," he said.

The hotel industry as well as the tourism and related businesses account for about 30 percent of the Greek economy. In recent years, Greece's tourism had made a significant contribution to overcoming the serious financial crisis.


14:02 Federal states want to coordinate a concept for more emergency care

This Friday, the federal and state governments want to find a common approach to the expansion of emergency childcare during the corona crisis.  Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey has invited the heads of state departments to a telephone conference, the SPD politician announced. It is to be discussed to which occupational groups the care will be extended to, how the gradual return of kindergarten children to care can be best organized and what conditions are necessary.

"I see the needs of children in their early childhood development and language training, but also the needs of working parents in order to be able to combine work and family life," said Giffey. "They need some relief and a clear perspective."  The decision to expand care for children whose parents work in system-critical occupations was made on Wednesday."


13:34 DIHK expects a slump in German exports

The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) expects a sharp slump in the export sector due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decline in German exports is expected to amount to 15 percent this year, said DIHK Head of Foreign Trade Volker Treier in Berlin. The estimate is still relatively optimistic. After the financial crisis, German exports fell by 18 percent in 2009. The DIHK had recently predicted a stagnation for 2020,  following a 0.9 percent increase in 2019.


13:31 Steinmeier thanks doctors, social workers, and teachers

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has thanked people from so-called system-relevant professions in a video message, focusing on the coronavirus crisis. In the last few days, Steinmeier talked to about 30 nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers, workmen, and supermarket employees on the phone, the Office of the Federal President reported. He wanted to thank everyone whom "we particularly rely on in this crisis," the Federal President said. He has the utmost respect for them.


13:24 The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs wants school openings to be standardized

In accordance with the easing of restrictions implemented during the coronavirus crisis as determined by the federal government and the states, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) is preparing to open schools. Our goal is to proceed as uniformly as possible across the country," said the President of the Conference, Stefanie Hubig (SPD), in a statement given after the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs had discussed the matter on Wednesday evening in a telephone conference.

State-specific issues would be taken into account, Hubig, who is also Minister of Education in Rhineland-Palatinate, explained. "By April 29, we will present a concept with further steps on how lessons can be resumed with special hygiene and protection measures, especially taking into account the social distancing regulations by reducing the class sizes," said the SPD politician. She emphasized that lessons would resume in a responsible manner, as health protection is the top priority.


13:14 Hospitals to report daily bed capacity

Starting immediately, German hospitals with an intensive care unit must report their current bed capacity to the newly created intensive care registry every day by 9:00 a.m. This was announced by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) in Munich. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has implemented a corresponding regulation.  

The new regulation is "an important building block to continue obtaining valid nationwide figures on a daily basis," said DIVI President Uwe Janssens. "In addition, political decision-makers will be able to consult the data provided by the DIVI intensive care registry in the future."  

The primary objective of the DIVI intensive care registry is to create transparency regarding the availability of respiratory beds and extended treatment measures for acute lung failure in Germany.  Hospitals will also need to submit the number of patients with a CoViD-19 infection who are receiving intensive care, who are using ventilators, and who have been released from discharged from the hospital as of January 1.


13:07 Bavaria adjusts gatherings ban

Bavaria is easing the rules of the gatherings ban outside of people's own households and is thereby aligning its regulations with those of other federal states. From Monday onward, residents of the free state are allowed to meet with one person outside of their family, according to State Premier Markus Söder. Until now, Bavaria had limited all contact to residents' own households.


12:59 Spain reports 5,200 new infections

The number of people infected with coronavirus in Spain has risen to 182,816. This is an increase of 5,183 compared to Wednesday, the Ministry of Health in Madrid reported. At the same time, the number of deaths rose by 551 to 19,130. The previous day had seen a lower increase of 523.


12:52  France investigates hundreds of coronavirus cases on aircraft carrier

After a coronavirus outbreak on the French aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle", the French navy wants to clarify how hundreds of military personnel were infected with the virus. An investigation is underway to find out how the virus got on the ship, Navy spokesman Eric Lavault told French television on Thursday. Currently, 20 soldiers are in the hospital, one of them in intensive care. On Wednesday evening it was announced that of the almost 1800 seamen tested, most of whom came from the aircraft carrier, around 670 were infected. According to the Ministry of Defence, there are still no results for about one third of the tests - so the numbers could still rise.


12:22 Government adopts coronavirus occupational safety standards

According to Labour Minister Hubertus Heil, the Federal Government has decided on nationwide uniform, supplementary labor protection standards to protect against infection with the coronavirus. The SPD politician said that ten rules would be formulated in a "concrete and binding manner". The distance of 1.5 meters between each other must be observed everywhere - whether outdoors, in a vehicle, or even in the production hall. Employers must also make additional hygiene measures possible.


12:19 For a donation - 100 rounds with the walker

The 99-year-old Briton Tom Moore completed 100 laps of his garden with his walker and thus collected more than twelve million pounds (about 14 million euros) in donations. Moore intends to use the money to support the health system. He feels good, said the war veteran in the English village of Marston Moretaine near Cambridge after the last round of his campaign. Many doctors, nurses, athletes and politicians congratulated the senior.


12:01 Further major donation from The Gates Foundation

The foundation established by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda has announced a further $150 million in donations to fight the spread of the coronavirus. This will be used primarily to support healthcare systems in Africa and South Asia. In addition, it will support diagnosis and treatment options and the development of vaccines. In Africa, the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, reaching 17,220 on Thursday morning, with South Africa currently having the highest number of cases (2,506). For many countries the estimated number of unreported cases is much higher. There are no possibilities to test in suspected cases.


11:55 "Europe in the eye of the coronavirus storm"

The World Health Organization estimates that about half of the coronavirus cases are registered in Europe. The coming weeks will be crucial for the Region, says Hans Kluge, WHO Director for Europe. "Europe is in the eye of the coronavirus storm." Now more than ever is the time for solidarity. Europe is at the beginning of a phase in which initial restrictions are being relaxed. "But there is no quick path back to normality."


11:48 Hospitality industry urges rapid re-openings

Hotels and restaurants are pressing for a rapid reopening of their establishments. "The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are devastating for Germany's hospitality industry," Guido Zöllick, president of the Dehoga industry association, told the Reuters news agency. "The businesses have no revenues, yet the high costs continue." For many small and medium-sized businesses, it is a matter of bare survival. Medium-sized companies in particular threaten to fall through the safety net. However, Rhineland-Palatinate's Minister President Malu Dreyer does not think it would be wise to relax the rules for tourist businesses such as hotels and restaurants. "At the moment we can do nothing else but support these companies and provide liquidity to help them survive this difficult phase," she told SWR. The virus "is still dangerous and it remains our task to continue to curb its spread".


11:34 France extends deadline for abortions at home

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, France is extending the permitted period for taking abortion drugs at home. Instead of the previously allowed seven week period, this is now allowed until the ninth week during the curfew. According to French media reports, this is intended to avoid visiting clinics. The medication must be prescribed by a doctor or midwife; prior consultation is now also possible by telephone. Women are not allowed to be alone at home during the abortion. Every year, around 220,000 abortions are officially performed in France, about a quarter of them outside hospitals.


11:30 Austria wants to test all people in nursing homes

Austria wants to test all employees and residents of nursing and retirement homes for the coronavirus. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said at a press conference in Vienna that this was "the very big, central focus" of the future testing strategy in the Alpine Republic. According to Anschober, the measure affects 130,000 people in more than 900 institutions. So far Austria has carried out a total of about 157,000 coronavirus tests.


11:21 Longer lockdown in the UK?

According to British media reports, Great Britain wants to extend the initial lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by three weeks. The decision is to be officially announced today after a meeting of the National Security Council Cobra. Minister of Health Matt Hancock told the BBC: "It is still too early for any changes. The numbers are not going down yet." The Minister did not give any details. The strict curfew had been imposed on March 23. The British are scarcely allowed to leave their homes any more. They are allowed to buy essential things like food and medicine. All shops that do not serve basic needs are closed. Sport is only allowed once a day and only with members of the same household. Meetings of more than two people are prohibited.


11:10 Olympia makers want same schedule for postponed games

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo are to follow the same schedule as the games originally planned for this year. This decision was made by the Coordinating Commission of the International Olympic Committee and the organizers. On this basis, the competition venues will also be available as originally planned, according to a statement. The Tokyo organizers are now to begin negotiations with the owners of the arenas. The Summer games in Tokyo were supposed to be held from July 24 to August 9, but had been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new opening date for the games is July 23, 2021.


11:00 NRW: Voluntary school attendance before final exams

Students who are about to take their final exams in North Rhine-Westphalia can go back to school as of Thursday - but are not required to do so. This applies to prospective high-school graduates as well as students who are about to take intermediate exams. The schools will offer targeted courses in the examination subjects, explained School Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) in the school committee of the Düsseldorf state parliament. She said that this was not about classical lessons according to a timetable, as was customary before the coronavirus pandemic. Gebauer spoke of a "fair offer for exam candidates", which should ensure educational justice. Students may, however, continue to prepare themselves at home.


10:55 Post: Parcel delivery to China possible again

With immediate effect, the Deutsche Post wants to make it possible again to send parcels to China. China is "the first country affected by such export restrictions, where these restrictions can be completely lifted", a Post spokesperson told the German Press Agency. However, there could still be delays in delivery.


10:36 Dutch study: antibodies in 3 percent of the population

A study with blood donors in the Netherlands has shown that about 3 percent have developed antibodies against the coronavirus. The Dutch health authority said that this could provide information about what percentage of the population may already have been infected with the virus.


10:18 Von der Leyen wants more leeway in the EU budget

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned against bad-mouthing the European Union in the coronavirus crisis. It is true that initially no one was prepared for the pandemic, and Italy in particular should have been helped more, said von der Leyen in the European Parliament in Brussels. Europe as a whole apologises for this and has recognised that we must protect each other. "And the truth is that Europe has now become the beating heart of solidarity in the world," continued von der Leyen. In the meantime, the states are supporting each other with medical personnel and equipment. " This makes me proud to be European," said von der Leyen in the special session attended by only a few MEPs. Now more room for leeway is needed in the EU budget to boost the economies.


10:08 Sylt: Using tricks to get to the island

Holidaymakers are not allowed to go to the popular North Sea island of Sylt because of the coronavirus crisis, but some of them are trying all the tricks. There are individual islanders who are picking up guests with their private car on the mainland, the mayor of the municipality of Sylt, Nikolas Häckel, told the "Zeit" newsletter "Elbvertiefung". Other holidaymakers have given false information at the controls, presented bogus employment contracts, or stated that they have to look after care-dependent relatives. The controls are strict, but the people are "very creative", Häckel said. "Many apparently also see it as a challenge to come to the island and are presenting themselves in social media." Access to the island is controlled by the police and the public order offices on the mainland, in the trains, and at the stations.


09:55 Russia reports some 3500 new coronavirus cases

A total of almost 28,000 people in Russia have become infected with the coronavirus, reported the Russian Coronavirus Crisis Center. This is an increase of approximately 3500 new cases since yesterday. 34 people have died in the past 24 hours, the number of deaths since the outbreak of the virus is 232.


09:43 GEW calls for plans to reopen schools in May

The Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) has called on the Conference of Ministers of Culture to quickly produce a plan for the gradual reopening of schools from May 4. “This requires coordinated, joint action by the federal states,” said GEW chairman Marlis Tepe. One of the key issues is hygiene. Hygiene conditions in schools would have to be improved sustainably, and this could not be a question of money. Furthermore, the necessary distancing measures would have to be ensured, and these would have to apply to corridors and schoolyards as well. The GEW chairman said that all employees in at-risk groups should not return to work. Students with existing medical conditions would also need to be protected. “If these standards are not guaranteed, schools should not be opened,” said Tepe.


09:41 Heavy metal festival in Wacken cancelled

The world’s biggest heavy metal festival in the Schleswig-Holstein town of Wacken will not take place this summer because of coronavirus. "We are faced with a situation that is unprecedented in our 30-year history and, with a heavy heart, we have to announce that there will be no Wacken Open Air this year,” said festival co-founder Holger Hübner. The reason is the cancellation of large-scale events by the states and Schleswig-Holstein until 31 August. The festival was originally scheduled to take place from 30 July to 1 August 2020.


09:34 Berlin Abitur to start on Monday

Abitur exams in Berlin are to go ahead as planned next week, the Senator for Education Sandra Scheeres confirmed in a statement to the rbb. She said that Latin exams would start on Monday, and that two further exams would follow that week. It is important that the Abitur exams are carried out throughout Germany as planned, said Scheeres: "This is about recognizing these qualifications (...), so that young people in Berlin can study at universities throughout Germany". According to the schools and the districts, measures to protect students could be put in place.


09:25 IMF to provide more financial aid

The International Monetary Fund has paved the way for more short-term liquidity aid. A new pot (SLL) had been created for this purpose, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgiewa, referring to a decision made by the Executive Board. The funds are aimed at countries that are in payment difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis.


09:16 Federal government underwrites default risks for supplier credit

The Federal Government is underwriting default risks for supplier credit up to EUR 30 billion during the coronavirus crisis. This has been agreed with credit insurers, who normally bear these risks, the Federal Ministry of Finance informed. Credit insurers had feared that the damage caused by inactive retail businesses could overwhelm them. In return, the Federal Government will receive 65 percent of the premium income for this year." These protections will ensure a smooth flow of goods, which we need urgently right now," said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.


09:06 BDI welcomes easing of restrictions

BDI President Dieter Kempf welcomes the agreement between the federal government and the states on the easing of restrictions but has criticized the regulation on only opening businesses with an area of up to 800 square meters. This is a first step, "which I find very positive, even if I cannot fully understand the opening criterion," said the President of the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) on German radio. He would also have liked a "more clearly binding" statement on face masks. Regarding the border controls in the EU he said: "This is a problem that is particularly serious for industry." In this regard, Europe had proven to "not be particularly capable of action".


08:58 Hubig: No regular classes until the summer break

The chairman of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Rhineland-Palatinate’s Minister of Education, Stefanie Hubig, expects that lessons in schools will not resume as before by the summer break. Hubig said to the SWR: “The lessons that happen between now and the summer break will of course be different from the ones before coronavirus.” The most important thing would be to maintain social distancing in schools as well. “This naturally means that the classrooms cannot be as full as they were before.” For example, two teachers would be required per class. However, it might also be possible to alternate between “working from home and working at school.” Hubig argued that there would be different regulations in the federal states once lessons were resumed.


08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • Angela Merkel: CoViD-19 measures in Germany extended until May 3 (Read the full transcript here: https://www.lengoo.de/blog/merkel-covid-19-measures-until-may/)
  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institut reports 130,450 infected and 3,569 deaths
  • No general mask requirement in Germany - but "recommendation"
  • Altmaier and Braun defend gradual easing of measures
  • Almost 2600 Corona deaths in the USA within 24 hours