This is the live blog for April 22, 2020.

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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.

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Short Facts

  • Compulsory masks soon in all federal states
  • Spain wants to relax restrictions from mid-May
  • Ministry of Labour against Sunday deliveries
  • Laschet advocates further relaxation of the restrictions
  • Beijing tightens quarantine measures again
  • Minister Karliczek reluctant to open up BAföG

17:39: 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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17:31 Italy: Migrants as harvest workers?

There is also a shortage of auxiliary workers in Italy during the harvesting season. According to the agricultural association Coldiretti, farmers are short of up to 200,000 seasonal workers. Therefore, according to Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, the Italian government is now considering granting residence permits to illegal migrants so that they can officially help in the fields.

17:21 Magdeburg Zoo opens its doors

The zoo in Magdeburg wants to open again for visitors starting tomorrow - but with restrictions. Zoo Director Dirk Wilke announced that a maximum of 1000 visitors is allowed on the premises at any one time. Feeding in front of the public and guided tours will also be canceled for the time being. The zoo had to close for five weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

17:15 Maas supports aid for EU‘s neighboring countries

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has called for support for the "weaker health systems" in countries neighboring the EU. He said it was "in Germany's own best interest" as the problems "right on our doorstep" would also make it more difficult to combat the German pandemic. The EU Commission had previously proposed to support ten non-EU countries with a total of three billion euros in the fight against the spread of the virus.

17:02 Virologist Drosten: "Previous successes could be gambled away"

Germany is in danger of losing the successes already achieved in containing the pandemic by relaxing the restrictions against the spread of coronavirus, this is the view of the virologist Christian Drosten.

Drosten, in an NDR (North German broadcaster) podcast, criticized the in parts complete reopening of shopping centers because the individual shops have an area of up to 800 square meters. The virologist warned of new chains of infection and that there would in May or June already be a threat of a situation "which we can no longer control". And this is despite the fact that Germany, in an international comparison, is one of the countries that have so far been most successful in fighting the pandemic.

16:34 Report: Twice as many Corona deaths in Great Britain?

The newspaper The Financial Times, based on its estimates, estimates that in the UK so far about twice as many people may have died as a result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic than those reported by official authorities.

According to the British Ministry of Health, 18,100 people have died as a result of the pandemic so far.

The "Financial Times" now speaks of up to 41,000 deaths. The estimate is based on figures from the British Office for National Statistics on so-called excess mortality. At the beginning of the month, according to these figures, within one week in the entire country, about 8000 more people died than the average of the previous years.

The Office for National Statistics has extrapolated the above-average death figures to reach the possible death toll of around 41,000.

16:21 Airlines take a pessimistic view of the current quarter

The ADV (German Airport Association) expects to reach the lowest point in passenger traffic in the current quarter. This is after the number of passengers at German airports had already fallen to just about five percent of the previous year’s level in the first quarter. Last week alone, the number of passengers had fallen further: at only 1.2 percent now compared to 2019.

16:04 More than 18,000 deaths in the UK

763 people across the country have died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours according to information from the British Department of Health. This brings the death toll to 18,100.

15:59 EU debates easing air traffic

The EU Commission intends to present proposals for opening up air traffic in May. This is to include social distancing rules for passengers, says EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean. Protection masks and disinfection requirements will also be discussed.

15:55 Volkswagen to gradually start up production

Car manufacturer VW wants to resume production of cars in Germany. The company will already start production at the Zwickau plant in Saxony tomorrow," announced the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The first of a total of seven shifts at the Chemnitz engine plant will also take up work again. The VW Group has announced strict hygiene and social distancing regulations for its workforce.

15:48 Müller asks for more funding

Given the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, Development Minister for Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller (CSU) has called for a funding increase of three billion euros for his own ministry, as part of a supplementary budget, report the "Stuttgarter Nachrichten" and "Stuttgarter Zeitung" newspapers.

Mr. Müller has justified his proposal, among arguments stating that the fight against pandemics in developing and emerging countries requires greater commitment, that refugee and crisis regions need to be stabilized, and that companies in key sectors such as textiles and tourism need to be protected.

15:43 Vatican to ease measures starting May

The Vatican intends to gradually return to normal operations from May onwards. This has been announced by Cardinal and Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, in a written statement, after consultations with the heads of the curiae departments and institutions of the Holy See.

Because of the Corona pandemic, the Vatican had imposed contact and movement restrictions, partially introducing home working.

15:22 UN: Crisis causes temporary drop in greenhouse gas emissions

According to the United Nations, the corona pandemic only has a temporary effect on the emission of greenhouse gases harmful to the environment. In the current year, carbon dioxide emissions could drop by around six percent, according to the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Petteri Taalas. This does not replace sustainable climate protection. Moreover, after the pandemic, a strong boost in greenhouse gas emissions is to be expected with the global economy starting up again. Short-term fluctuations in greenhouse gas pollution should hardly impact the climate.

15:14 Schwesig proposes uniform face mask regulations

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s Minister-President Manuela Schwesig spoke out in favor of a common face mask approach across Germany. “I would welcome the uniform regulation of requirements on face masks across all federal states,” said the SPD politician to “Bild”. She does not understand the skeptic approach of the Chancellery. “Face protection is a minor restriction necessary to get greater freedom.”

15:11 University Hospital fears second wave of infection in autumn

The Head of the Board of the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE), Burkhard Göke, fears a second wave of corona infections coming autumn. It could break out after the summer months, “with the wave of common colds,” he said. “We are very concerned about the logistics behind the diagnostics process.” He is also worried that the regular flu wave will hit in autumn. The idea that influenza A infections, which place quite a strain on people already, will be joined by Covid-19 infections, are cause for concern.

15:07 President of the DIW suggests quick assistance for working parents

The President of the German Institute for Economic Research, Marcel Fratzscher, urges for relief for working parents during the crisis. Parents should be able to reduce their working hours and receive financial compensation – in line with the model of parental leave, he said to Berlin broadcaster rbb. This would help align work and education of children for as long as schools and kindergartens are closed. According to Mr. Fratzscher, this concerns over four million families with small children. He expressed confidence that state assistance would be available soon.

15:04 Mosques need financial aid

The President of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, has called for state funding for mosques in need during the crisis. “Many mosques are facing bankruptcy, relying on the collections of the Friday prayer. They will soon not be able to pay their rent, the loan installments of their real estate, or staff,” said Mr. Mazyek to “Bild” newspaper. With restrictions in place for Ramadan, the situation is expected to get worse.

14:57 Deaf people struggle with mask obligation

Experts expect the deaf and hearing-impaired to have problems with the mask obligation. "To properly understand sign language, we need to see someone’s face," explains Sandra Gogol, Spokeswoman of the Association of the Deaf in Lower Saxony. Deaf people can only communicate effortlessly if they can see someone’s mouth. According to Ms. Gogol, politicians should place greater focus on masks with eye panels.

14:53 North Rhine-Westphalia to allow large department stores to open, under certain conditions

In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, large department stores will also be allowed to open from Monday onwards, under certain conditions. The sales area must be limited to 800 square meters, says State Minister for Economic Affairs, Digitization, Innovation and Energy Andreas Pinkwart. As a result, stores such as those of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, Media Markt Saturn, and Peek & Cloppenburg would be allowed to open their doors again. Furniture stores in the state are not subject to any space restrictions.

14:51 First coronavirus deaths in the USA occurred earlier than previously known

In the USA, it appears that the first deaths related to the coronavirus infection took place earlier than originally presumed. Health authorities in district of Santa Clara reported that forensic pathologists carried out autopsies of two individuals who died on February 6 and 17. The US health authority CDC has now confirmed that the Sars CoV-2 virus was detected in tissue samples. The US authorities reported that the first death resulting from a coronavirus infection took place in Washington state on February 29.

14:48 Thuringia: Meetings and church services to be permitted from Thursday

In Thuringia, meetings and church services will be allowed sooner than originally planned. As of Thursday (April 23), these types of gatherings can be held again in closed rooms with up to 30 participants or outdoors with up to 50 participants, the state chancellery in Erfurt announced.

Originally, the relaxations were scheduled to apply from May 3. The latest decision of the Federal Constitutional Court was given as the reason for this step. The judges in Karlsruhe had hereby granted the emergency appeal of a plaintiff against the prohibition of a demonstration in Stuttgart.

14:40 Spahn reaffirms commitment to bonus for care workers

According to Minister of Health Jens Spahn, care home workers are not at risk of losing the planned special coronavirus bonus. The federal government's goal is "that there can and should be a bonus for care workers," Spahn said on Wednesday in Berlin. Funding will be clarified "in the next few days". Bonus payments of up to EUR 1,500 are planned.

14:33 Coordination Council for Muslims opposed to quick opening of mosques

The Coordination Council for Muslims (KRM) wants to keep the mosques closed at least until the end of April, despite the start of Ramadan, the month of fasting. The decision will be reevaluated after the summit meeting
of the federal government and the states on April 30, the newspapers of Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland reported on Wednesday. “At the moment, we cannot state whether and to what extent church services will take place,” the council said. “Despite the great desire for church services during Ramadan, we must prioritize the protection and health of each individual.”

14:24 Steinmeier calls for solidarity again

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has once again called for mutual assistance and support. "The solidarity we are experiencing during the crisis is not just something we need today, but even more so in the future," said Steinmeier in a video message published on Wednesday. "We will also need solidarity when it comes to dealing with the consequences of coronavirus.

The crisis has severely affected society, and it will last for a long time to come," Steinmeier added. Now is not the time to sugarcoat the situation, nor is it the time for the darkest disaster scenarios. The federal president said, "We have given away some of the wealth we have worked for together." However, "Just as we will defeat the virus, we will also work our way out of this economic slump together with diligence and intelligence."

14:18 Bremen also wants to introduce a requirement to wear masks

According to information from Radio Bremen, a requirement to wear masks will also come into force in Bremen from Monday. This was confirmed by the senate spokesman Christian Dohle. The senate will approve this on Friday. The requirement to wear masks will apply on public transport and in shops.

13:58 Mandatory masks in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland

Following North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland are now also introducing a requirement to wear masks as protection against the transmission of coronavirus. The protective masks must be worn for shopping and on public transport in the federal states from next Monday, as the state governments have reported. So-called everyday masks or even a scarf or shawl are permitted.

13:49 Uhr Scheuer recommends protective masks on trains and public transport

Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer recommends that passengers wear protective masks on Deutsche Bahn trains and on public transport. However, "general masks" could also be used, they would not need to be professional masks, the CSU politician said in the Bundestag.

13:49 Spahn wants to expand testing

Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) wants to expand the testing capacity in Germany. Currently, 350,000 to 400,000 tests can be performed per week, he reported at the Bundestag. However, the capacity has not been fully utilized. Spahn said that more testing could have taken place.

13:16 Spahn describes clinical tests as a "good sign"

Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) has described the approval of a first clinical trial for a possible CoViD-19 vaccine in Germany as a "good sign". However, the effects and side effects still need to be tested. The federally owned Paul-Ehrlich Institute (PEI) had previously allowed the biotechnology company BioNTech, based in Mainz, to test four variants of a potential vaccine developed by the company on 200 volunteers in a first clinical trial. Initially, the goal lies in establishing general findings, for example on side effects.

12:55 Federal Cabinet decides on new minimum wages for care workers

The federal cabinet has approved new minimum wages for care of the elderly, which will be effective as of July. These had already been approved by the 4th Nursing Commission at the end of January and for the first time provide different minimum hourly wages for auxiliary staff, nursing assistants with training, and nursing specialists, as well as a gradual increase and alignment of western and eastern wages. In addition, nursing staff are to receive five days more paid leave this year in addition to the statutory leave, and six days more in the next two years.
Federal Minister of Labour Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) declared that many thousands of nursing staff - especially in the eastern federal states - will be paid significantly better in future than they have been up to now. It was also clear, they said, that nursing staff had earned a bonus for the coronavirus crisis.

12:39 Statute of limitations thanks to Corona: World Cup trial ended

It is now certain that there will be no verdict in the "Summer Fairytale Trial" in Switzerland against three former DFB officials. "The statute of limitations will come into effect on April 27, 2020. Nothing has been changed in the substantive statute of limitations," announced Wolfgang Niersbach, lawyer for the accused former DFB President. On Monday evening, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona decided to further suspend the proceedings, which had been interrupted since mid-March due to the coronavirus crisis, until 27 April. "As a result, a suspension of the proceedings is the only possible consequence", said Isenring. In addition to Niersbach, former DFB president Theo Zwanziger, former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt, and former FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi were accused of fraud. All accused had consistently denied the accusations. In essence, the trial was about a transfer of 6.7 million euros from the German Football Association in April 2005 via FIFA to the now deceased entrepreneur Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

12:32  Possible long-term damage to the nervous system

Although there is little reliable information on the long-term effects of the coronavirus, there are increasing reports of possible physical and psychological effects. There have been reports of persistent impairment of lung function, impaired sense of smell and taste, and reduced physical performance, as well as anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression. According to a study by Chinese scientists, even the nervous system can be damaged. One possible consequence could be sudden respiratory arrest. The most common symptoms observed by the doctors were dizziness and headaches. About three percent of patients suffered a stroke. There are also corresponding medical reports from Italy and the USA.

12:22 SPD faction in favor of further emergency aid to the catering industry

Prior to the coalition summit, the SPD faction has introduced new emergency aid for the catering industry. The direct subsidies for small businesses and solo self-employed persons should be extended by three months in order to prevent a wave of bankruptcies in the industry, said parliamentary manager Carsten Schneider. However, the SPD is sceptical about the proposal, especially from the CSU, to lower the value-added tax for the gastronomy sector. This would only help the restaurants and cafés if they also made sales - which is hardly the case at the moment. There are also fears within the party that the reduction, which was actually planned to be temporary, would be difficult to reverse later. In addition, it also helps large chains that do not need any support.

12:13 NRW also implements mask requirement

Starting next Monday, North Rhine-Westphalia will also require people to wear face masks in shops and on public transport. According to information from WDR, the state government is currently trying to coordinate this action with other states. An official confirmation for the NRW mask requirement is to be issued later today.

12:00 Coronavirus fear: Migrants demonstrate outside a refugee camp

Fearing an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of migrants have blocked the entrance to the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. They carried banners saying: "Freedom for all. We are exposed to Covid-19," Greek media reported. In the past few days, three camps on the Greek mainland have reported numerous coronavirus infections. These camps have been quarantined.

11:30 USA: First coronavirus deaths weeks before the first reported case

In the USA, people died from the coronavirus weeks before the official registration of the country's first death from the lung disease Covid-19. An autopsy of two people who died on February 6 and 17 revealed Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, according to forensics in Santa Clara County, California, following confirmation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC). A death in Santa Clara on March 6 was also attributed to the coronavirus.

11:23 First clinical trial of coronavirus vaccine approved in Germany

The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) has granted approval for the first clinical trial in Germany of a vaccine candidate against the coronavirus. According to the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs, the Mainz-based company Biontech has been granted permission to test its active ingredient on healthy volunteers.

11:08 Lower Saxony and Brandenburg also implement mandatory masks

Lower Saxony and Brandenburg have now also implemented a state-wide mask requirement for the containment of coronavirus. Starting next Monday, face masks will be mandatory on public transportation and in retail stores, said a spokesperson for Lower Saxony's Ministry of Health, after several media had previously reported on it.
In Brandenburg, Minister of the Interior Michael Stübgen (CDU) announced in the Interior Committee of the state parliament that masks will be mandatory in commuter trains, buses, and trams as of next Monday. This will be approved by the cabinet on Thursday. Previously, 10 of the 16 states announced that masks would be mandatory or, as in Saxony, had already introduced them.

10:05 Spain to ease restrictions from mid-May

Spain's government wants to ease the coronavirus restrictions in the second half of May. This is to be done slowly and gradually to ensure safety, said head of government Pedro Sanchez. Spain's current state of emergency is to be extended until May 9.

10:04 Ministry of Labour oposes Sunday deliveries

The Federal Ministry of Labour rejects the approval of parcel deliveries on Sundays as proposed by the Deutsche Post. A spokesperson for Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said, in response to an inquiry by the German Press Agency, that the Ministry does not support this. "As was previously decided in several summary proceedings by the Administrative Court in Berlin, there is no supply crisis that would make it urgently necessary to provide parcel deliveries on Sunday.
A temporary increase in parcel volumes due to the Easter holidays, contact restrictions, and the closing of many shops is no reason to interfere with the constitutionally guaranteed right to Sunday rest, the spokesperson said.

09:58 Laschet advocates further relaxation of the restrictions

North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) is striving for further relaxation in May: Federal and state governments should agree on this at their next meeting on April 30th, Laschet told the newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung". He added that it was not yet known what the effects of previous easing measures would be. "Nevertheless, I believe that we will have to think about a few more measures", Laschet said. The Minister President cited sporting activities for young people as an example. "If young people now all go to shopping malls or meet in parks instead of going to the sports field, they are missing the point", he said.

09:05 Mayor Müller: Berlin nurseries to reopen before 1 August

Nurseries in Berlin are to reopen for all children before the previously envisaged date of 1 August. This was confirmed by Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller to the RBB. However, there is not yet a precise date. “Next steps will be by determined by the education administration. That was very important to us. Also, that there is a comprehensive offer again before August.” Müller remains cautious about the hospitality sector in Berlin. He could not yet say whether restrictions, for example for restaurants and cafes, would be eased in May. “I believe we will have to make something possible for them in the second and third phase as well,” he said.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institut reports 2,237 new infected (145,694  total) and 281 new deaths (4,879 total)
  • Federal Government releases additional billions for protective equipment
  • BDI warns against "domino effect" at export stops
  • 45,000 deaths in the U.S.