This is the live blog for April 27, 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

  • Tourism commissioner considers domestic travel to be possible during the summer months
  • German researchers anticipate sharp rise in unemployment
  • Proposal for shared funding of the Corona bonus for caregivers
  • Family doctors for extending sick notes over the phone
  • German exporters' mood at a new low
  • Spain launches major antibody study
  • RKI reports 1018 new infections in Germany

17:38 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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17:27 UN Security Council to discuss coronavirus pandemic

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are planning to meet in a video summit on the coronavirus pandemic according to Russia. The heads of state and government of the USA, Great Britain, China, and France supported the Russian initiative for such a summit, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The conference aims to find ways for states to "make their own contribution" to fighting the coronavirus, continued Lavrov. An appointment has not yet been set. It is expected that the UN Security Council will pass its first pandemic resolution this week. The committee had largely held back since the start of the coronavirus crisis. There are currently strong differences of opinion, particularly between the USA, China, and Russia.

17:02 Debate on gradual relaxation in Italy

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has been harshly criticized for the relaxation of restrictions which he has announced. Conte had announced a "phase two: a phase of co-existence with the virus". Most shops and businesses are to reopen during the course of the next three weeks. The first "strategically important" companies have already been allowed to resume operations today. The plan does not go far enough for churches, gastronomy, and retail.

16:43 Green party and CSU party move party conferences to the internet

The Green party will hold its first internet party conference on Saturday. About 100 delegates will debate how to cushion the consequences of the coronavirus crisis for the economy and society. The meeting will be held digitally to control the spread of infection. The CSU, too, wants to hold its first internet party conference on May 22nd because of the coronavirus crisis. Secretary-General Markus Blume said that, in addition to a speech by party leader Markus Söder, it is planned that Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will briefly take part online. In addition, he said, a key motion is to be passed that included an economic stimulus program. The CDU had canceled a party conference planned for Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic on its part. The election of Kramp-Karrenbauer's successor was meant to take place then. The election may now be held at the regular party conference planned for December.

16:21 President of the German Association of Towns and Cities expects billions of additional expenditures

Local authorities must be prepared not only for losses in trade tax but also for enormous additional expenditure as a result of the coronavirus crisis according to the German Association of Cities and Towns. It is estimated that the trade tax will amount to "15 to 25 billion euros, which German cities and municipalities will lack in 2020", the President of the German Association of Towns and Cities, Burkhard Jung, told the news agency AFP. Additional expenditures, for example for social benefits, daycare centers, cultural institutions, or public transport, are of a similar dimension. Jung, who is the Mayor of Leipzig, called for a rescue package for the municipalities. He said that the cities "urgently need help from the federal and state governments".

15:53 Tourism Commissioner: Domestic summer trips realistic

The Federal Government’s Tourism Commissioner, Thomas Bareiß, considers domestic travel possible in the summer. “I believe that summer holiday trips will be possible this year, albeit of a more regional nature,” Mr. Bareiß said after a video conference with his EU colleagues. He believes that it will be “it will be possible without a problem to rent holiday apartments and holiday homes in the summer.

Solutions can be found for hotel restaurants and breakfast buffets. However, people will not be able to lie “towel to towel on the North Sea beaches”. “We also have to clearly define how to observe distances to each other.” Tourist hotspots should not infection hotspots.

15:42 Researchers expect a 30 percent increase in unemployment in Germany

The coronavirus crisis is threatening to have a great impact on the German labor market. The IAB Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) expects unemployment to jump by around 30 percent, to over three million unemployed, as a result of the crisis in the coming months. In the second half of the year, however, in the event of a gradual normalization of economic activity, over half of the increase will be made up for, according to the recent IAB forecast.

Experts expect an increase in seasonally adjusted unemployment by 76,000 in the April data of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), which will be published on Thursday. The unemployment rate would thus increase to 5.2 percent, from the previous figure of 5.0 percent.

15:28 Masses gather around Federal Minister of Defence Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer

Federal Minister of Defence Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer has caused a stir as she received 25 million medical protective masks from China. During a press conference at Leipzig-Halle Airport, masses gathered around the Minister – without taking any measures to protect against the coronavirus. The minimum distance of 1.5 meters was clearly not observed. Almost nobody wore protective masks during the incident, with some having masks hanging from their necks.

On the Internet, this gave rise to derisive comments. Apparently, the obligation to mask did not apply to politicians and journalists, "because their coughs are always sterile." Others spoke of a "corona Party". The Federal Army later apologized for the incident. On Twitter, The Ministry of Defence admitted that mistakes were made.

15:11 Coronavirus checks of 500 euro for every citizen

The HDE Retail Association calls on the Federal Government to boost weakened consumer sentiments with corona checks of 500 euro per citizen. The Federal Government must provide a "strong economic stimulus" for the internal economy, says HDE Director Mr. Genth. Checks should be issued as soon as the risks of infection have been brought under control. A "state consumption stimulus" of 500 euro per citizen would trigger a boost in demand of up to 40 billion euro. Retailers who are not active in the food industry are struggling with the regulatory requirements imposed to curb the pandemic, with massive decreases in sales.

15:03 Call for donation marathon of 7.4 billion euro

The European Commission is organizing a donation marathon to mobilize EUR 7.5 billion for the fight against the coronavirus. All countries and organizations worldwide are invited to provide funds, the Commission stated. The first pledges will be registered at an online donor conference on Monday next week .

The donor conference, which the Commission is coordinating with Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Saudi Arabia, only marks the start of the campaign. Donors include financial institutions and corporate foundations. For legal reasons, the Commission cannot call on private individuals to donate.

The funds are to be spent on diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The Commission bases the sum of EUR 7.5 billion on an estimate of the immediate funding requirements by the World Health Organization (WHO) and a committee convened by the World Bank.

14:58 Family doctors plead for extension of sick notes over the phone

In an open letter, the Federal President of the German Association of Family Doctors, Mr. Weigeldt, has called on the Joint Federal Committee to extend the regulation to allow for sick notes over the phone until at least the end of June. Currently, the regulation applies until May 4th.

They justified their demand with the large number of at-risk patients who require care, but rather not visit family doctor practices out of fear for infection with the coronavirus.

14:36 Ifo Institute: Mood among German exporters at a "new all-time low"

The mood in the important area of German foreign trade is in free fall due to the coronavirus crisis. In numerous industries, the exporters' expectations have fallen to new lows," the President of the Munich Ifo Institute, Fuest, explained. The export expectations of the industry have dropped fallen from negative 19.01 to negative 50.0 points in April. At the same time, scientists have warned of a significant loss of wealth for Germans due to the pandemic.

President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Felbermayr, shares this view. He criticized that health protection may have been "over-prioritized" in recent weeks: "My impression is that the economic damage is so immense that we have to seriously ask ourselves if we haven't gone a little overboard in recent weeks."

14:29 Federal government for joint financing of the coronavirus bonus for care workers

In the dispute over financing the planned bonus of EUR 1,500 for care workers, the federal government is aiming for shared funding. In accordance with proposals from the Ministries of Health and Labour, the nursing care insurance fund will cover two thirds of the costs and the states as well as employers will cover the remaining third. According to information published by the German Press Agency, this has emerged from a letter to representatives of workers and employers in the care industry.

It should be legally clarified that the financing of these premiums will not increase the share paid by those in need of care, the letter continues. Furthermore, in the second half of the year, the Ministries of Health and Finance intend to determine the subsidies which statutory health and care insurance will receive to stabilize the contribution rates. It must also be clarified who will counter-finance the one-time premium.

14:12 Coronavirus consequences for the culture sector cannot be predicted

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz considers the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for art and culture to be inestimable. "Of course, we are aware that the coronavirus crisis is also posing immense challenges for cultural workers and creative professionals now," the SPD politician told the German Cultural Council's magazine "Politik&Kultur" (May edition).

14:05 Shops in the Czech Republic open again

As part of the relaxations of coronavirus measures, almost all shops have opened again today in the Czech Republic. Exceptions include stores with a sales area of more than 2500 square meters and shopping centers with a sales area of more than 5000 square meters. Gyms, libraries, zoos, botanical gardens, and driving schools have resumed operations. Strict hygiene regulations apply - for example, customers cannot try on clothing. Exchanged goods must be "quarantined" for three days. According to the government's plans, hairdressers, restaurants, theatres, and museums won't be able to open until the end of May at the earliest.

13:28 Spain launches major coronavirus antibody study

Spain wants to understand the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak in the country by distributing antibody tests to 36,000 households with a total of 90,000 residents. The test series is to start today and last for several weeks. All participants will be subject to two different tests which are carried out a total of three times over a three-week period. The study takes place across the entire country, participation is voluntary. The health authorities hope that the analysis will also provide them with information on the transmission of the virus in private households after a six-week curfew.

On the weekend, Italy had already announced that,  starting from May 4, it planned to determine the real figure of coronavirus cases with antibody tests, initially within a pool of 150,000 people. In Germany, the government is also planning a large-scale testing program; smaller projects have already started. With tests like these, experts can find out whether an individual has already been infected with Sars-CoV-2 and has produced antibodies in their blood.  This method helps prove that individuals have had the virus even if they had no or hardly any symptoms of the disease and often didn't even know they were infected. However, the tests have not been completely reliable so far: they often not only give a positive result for Sars-CoV-2, but also for other coronaviruses.

13:17 Educational associations appeal to Education Ministers: "Care before speed"

Before the the Conference of the Ministers of Education Culture convened to discuss the further opening of schools, educational associations cautioned them to put "safety and care before speed". There should be no competition during the coronavirus crisis to see who can enable classroom attendance as quickly as possible, the Education and Science Workers' Union (GEW), the Association for Training and Education (VBE), and the Federal Parent-Teacher Association (BER) stated on Monday. "Protecting the health of teachers and students and preventing infections must be at the core of all decisions when schools are gradually reopened."

12:42 Court: 800 square meter rule in Bavaria unconstitutional

Bavaria's highest administrative court has declared the ban on opening large stores with more than 800 square meters of floor space, which was imposed by the state government in the coronavirus crisis, to be unconstitutional. The judges see this as a violation of constitutional rights because of the unequal treatment compared to smaller shops. This was announced by the Bavarian Administrative Court (BayVGH) on Monday. The court did not however overrule the regulation.

12:38 Number of coronavirus infections in Russia exceeds China

Russia now has more coronavirus infections than neighbouring China, the country where the pandemic originated. More than 87,000 people have been infected with the virus, the authorities announced in Moscow on Monday. In China, around 84,000 infections have been officially recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. However, the figures are not really comparable: experts expect a high number of unreported cases from both countries.

With a slight delay compared to Western European countries, the official infection figures in Russia have risen rapidly in recent weeks - on Monday, the statistics recorded around 6200 new infections, most of them in the metropolis of Moscow, where strict curfews have been in place for almost a month.

12:25 Johnson's first public appearance after coronavirus recovery

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is back in his office in Downing Street. In his first public appearance after his Covid 19 illness, he said that the tide is beginning to turn in Britain in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, An end to the lockdown, howver, is not in sight for the time being. Johnson seemed a little thinner, his hair a little longer. In his speech, the 55-year-old apologized for having been away "much longer" than he wanted.
The United Kingdom is one of the most severely affected countries in Europe by the pandemic. According to the latest official figures, more than 20,000 people have died there as a result of coronavirus infection. However, the death toll is significantly higher when deaths in nursing homes are included.

12:11 Après-Ski-Bar in Ischgl: Would have done things differently in retrospect

The operator of the après-ski bar "Kitzloch" in the Austrian town of Ischgl regrets not having closed his establishment earlier due to the spread of the coronavirus. "In retrospect, we probably would have done some things differently", said Bernhard Zangerl on ORF. "But we simply followed the instructions we received and trusted that the experts were giving us the right instructions", said Zangerl.
The popular winter sports resort of Ischgl is considered one of the centers of the coronavirus for parts of Europe. The "Kitzloch" was a particular focus of attention because the first confirmed coronavirus case in Ischgl involved an employee of this resort. The first indications of infection in Ischgl were already evident on March 5. Quarantine was not imposed for Ischgl until March 13th.

12:07 Mandatory face masks - predominantly accepted

As of today, the obligation to wear face masks applies almost nationwide. The first random check shows: The regulation is being observed for the most part, but the extent and sense of the regulation is still under discussion.

11:46 Söder and Dobrindt distance themselves from Laschet's positions

Bavaria's Minister President Markus Söder believes that a slow reopening of the catering trade would only be conceivable as of the end of May. According to participants, he made this statement on Monday in a video broadcast of the CSU party executive committee. Söder defended the present course in the fight against the coronavirus and continued to urge only cautious easing of the restrictions - there should not be a competition to outbid each other.
The CSU leadership clearly distanced itself from North Rhine-Westphalian Premier Armin Laschet in the video broadcast. Laschet complained on Sunday evening on ARD television that virologists have changed their minds every few days. This leads to uncertainty. Söder said in principle, without mentioning Laschet by name: "It would be wrong not to listen to virologists, because they have given us good advice so far".
CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt, however, attacked Laschet head-on: What Laschet is doing could be harmful, Dobrindt said according to participants. One may not simply distance oneself from scientific findings. Rather, one must act with the virologists and not against them.

11:29 Hoeneß expects continuing salary waivers at FC Bayern

The professional soccer players of FC Bayern have initially agreed to forego 20 percent of their earnings for April. Honorary President Uli Hoeneß expects the agreement to be extended: "I don't see this being limited to April alone, but for as long as it takes until football can be played normally again", he told the "Kicker". Given that, due to the coronavirus, the best we can hope for in the coming months will be ghost games without an audience, the stars' salary waiver could last for a long time. Captain Manuel Neuer's team, as well as the board of directors and the supervisory board, which includes 68-year-old Hoeneß himself, had promised to waive 20 percent of their salaries for this month.

11:17 Dutch celebrate "Woningsdag" instead of "Koningsdag"

For the first time in more than 50 years, the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their monarch at home and without traditional folk festivals. Because of the coronavirus crisis, "Koningsdag" celebrations for today have been banned. King Willem-Alexander, who is 53 years old today, nevertheless wished his countrymen a "unique King's Day at home". "Celebrate together, but with distance", said the monarch in a short speech broadcast live from his palace in The Hague. He called for continued adherence to the coronavirus restrictions: " Hang in there."
The royal family is celebrating the national holiday at home. Willem-Alexander showed up casually without a tie, his wife Máxima and daughters Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane wore cheerful, colourful spring outfits.

11:10 VW completes resumption of production in Wolfsburg

Volkswagen has resumed car production in Wolfsburg, ending the several-week compulsory break at its main plant due to the coronavirus crisis. The world's largest automobile group, which had been restarting production in component and car plants in Germany since the beginning of April, celebrated the first shift at the group headquarters as a symbolic act. "The gradual resumption of production is an important sign for the workforce, the trade, the suppliers, and the economy as a whole," said Ralf Brandstätter, the manager of the main VW brand responsible for day-to-day business.
In Wolfsburg and at other locations in Germany and abroad, Volkswagen will initially start production with just one shift. According to the company, production capacity at the Wolfsburg plant will be at ten to 15 percent of pre-crisis levels at the beginning and around 40 percent next week. "This gives the workforce, suppliers, and service providers the opportunity to slowly adjust to the new situation," the Group explained. Volkswagen expects a secure supply of parts from its suppliers. "All our partners have signalled to us that they are ready to get started." Initially, the Volkswagen brand is working off existing orders from the period before the crisis. "At the same time, we assume that the opening up of dealerships and registration offices will provide a certain stimulus to the order situation," the automaker explained.

11:07 Delivery of masks from China lands in Leipzig

The world's largest cargo aircraft, an Antonov 225, landed at Leipzig/Halle Airport on Monday morning with 10.3 million protective masks from China. "This is part of a total delivery of 25 million masks," said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who welcomed the cargo plane. The first transport aircraft landed at Leipzig/Halle Airport on Sunday with 8.3 million protective masks. A third delivery of 6.6 million protective masks is expected on Wednesday.
The transport is part of the German Armed Forces' mutual assistance in the coronavirus crisis. The Antonov transport aircraft is normally used to fly 225 helicopters and tanks to the countries where the Bundeswehr is deployed. It can carry up to 250 tons of cargo.

10:40 Scheuer calls for mandatory masks also on long-distance trains

Rail passengers will have to be prepared for mandatory face masks on long-distance routes in ICE and IC trains. Andreas Scheuer said on Monday that he would propose this at the next federal-state conference at the end of the week. He does not expect any objections. The obligation is already in place starting this week, so everyone will already have a face mask. "I also believe that the citizens are ready for this." It is important, however, to coordinate this with our European neighbours, for example when long distance trains go to France. Here we are still at the very beginning.
Scheuer also questioned whether it would be possible to board trains freely in the future. This uncontrolled access would most likely be discussed in the course of the coronavirus crisis. "I am still an advocate of the open system," said Scheuer. However, he noted that it must be possible to implement organizational measures such as protection via disinfection facilities. In several European countries, access to long-distance trains has long been regulated in a similar way to air traffic: A ticket with a seat must be presented before the journey begins, and in some cases there are also security checks.

10:36 Poland: Government to discuss easing of restrictions for commuters

Following protests against the strict coronavirus restrictions for commuters at the German-Polish border, the government in Warsaw plans to discuss solutions in the coming days. Government spokesman Piotr Mueller told radio station Trojka that the topic should be discussed at the next crisis team meeting. He added, however, that a solution would be difficult as Germany has a much higher number of coronavirus infections than Poland. He did not name a date for the meeting.
Over the weekend, Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer said that he was concerned about the closed border. The Polish government had gone too far, Kretschmer said. Brandenburg's head of government Dietmar Woidke (SPD) also asked for an easing of restrictions. Several hundred people had previously protested against the regulations in the Polish border towns of Zgorzelec, Slubice, and Gubin.

10:08 Australian coronavirus tracking app reaches one million downloads

Within a twelve hour period, 1.13 million people in Australia downloaded an app to help contain the coronavirus. The Covidsafe software is designed to speed up the tracing of contacts of people infected with the coronavirus. There are, however, data protection concerns. Members of the government want to pass a law in parliament this week that will prohibit the collected data from being used for purposes other than finding possible infected persons. They also promised to disclose the source code within two weeks. According to the government, at least two-fifths of Australia's 26 million inhabitants must install the app to make it effective. So far, the continent has reported 6720 cases of infection.

09:40 Half a billion euros in state aid for Condor

The airline Condor receives a loan of over 294 million euros from the Corona Protective Shield Program. This was announced by the company on Monday. The state bridging loan, which enabled Condor to avoid insolvency after the bankruptcy of its parent company Thomas Cook in the fall, will be refinanced with 256 million euros. In addition to the federal government, the state of Hessen is also contributing to the airline. The EU Commission has already approved the aid.
The Federal Government evalues the prospects of Condor positively: "The company was operationally healthy and profitable during normal times and has a good prospects for the future," said Federal Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier on Deutschlandfunk radio. That is why the KfW's loan of 550 million euros in total is justified.
It is not only air traffic in Europe that has been largely paralysed by the corona pandemic. The takeover of Condor by the Polish LOT company PGL also failed because the latter now needs state aid itself.

09:24 "Shock of historic proportions" for US economy

The economic adviser of the White House, Kevin Hassett, predicts a "shock of historic proportions" for the US economy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. On ABC television, he spoke of a very serious situation. "We will have to deal with a unemployment rate that we saw during the Great Depression," Hassett added. He expects a rate of 16 percent or more for this month.
Since mid-March, 26.5 million Americans have already applied for unemployment benefits, and the corona restrictions have caused sales of numerous companies to collapse. On Sunday, the CDC epidemic control authority reported 928,619 coronavirus infections for the USA, with the number of deaths reaching nearly 52,500.

09:19 World Medical President calls for FFP2 masks for citizens

The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery,  has called for medical protective masks of the FFP2 type to be provided to citizens in Germany. On Deutschlandfunk radio, Montgomery accused the federal government of failure because it had not managed to procure such masks in sufficient quantity at an early stage. The FFP2 masks, however, were the solution that politicians now had to provide. He said that there was no point in having masks made of fabric, as they are now mandatory in almost all German states.
The federal and state governments urge that protective masks of the FFP2 or FFP3 type be reserved for medical personnel. The recommendation for simple protective measures, such as masks made of cotton, is based on the fact that although they do not provide safe protection for the wearer, they do reduce the risk of infection for other people if a virus carrier uses such a mouth-nose protection.

09:06 French police confiscates 140,000 protective masks

The French police confiscated 140,000 respiratory masks, that were to be sold on the black market. Two suspects were arrested when they unloaded boxes in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on Sunday, according to police sources. One of the suspects claimed to be the owner of a shop. He bought the masks, including 5,000 of the so-called FFP2 masks with high protection, for 80,000 euros in the Netherlands.
According to the police, the masks were  be sold to construction workers at a high price. Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, France had never before seen so many masks confiscated during an operation. The French government has prohibited the resale of protective masks to ensure their distribution to health care workers as a priority.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 1,018 new cases of CoViD-19 (155,193 total) and 110 new deaths (5,750 total) due to the virus
  • Graduate classes go back to school
  • Federal Government expects 6.3 percent less economic performance
  • Corona app only available in several weeks
  • Boris Johnson back in Downing Street
  • China reports only three new infections