This is the live blog for April 28, 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 is based on the live blog of Tagesschau.

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Short Facts

  • France announces relaxations
  • Reproduction number again is 0.9
  • Berlin follows up - mandatory masks in retail stores now nationwide
  • All students in Germany are to return to school before the summer break
  • Short-time work registered in more than half of German companies
  • Railway extends goodwill arrangement

17:31 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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17:23 Russia extends work-free period until May 11th

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has announced an extension of the work-free period until May 11th. The measures were initially scheduled until the end of the month. Russia has not yet reached a peak in infections, explained Mr. Putin. Russia’s Coronavirus Crisis Center had previously reported a record high in new daily infections. The number of infections has increased by 6,411 to a total of 93,558 within 24 hours. The death toll has increased to 867.

Mr. Putin also said that the government should support the country’s economy and citizens with further measures. Moreover, recommendations will be developed on how to phase out restrictions.

16:35 Luxembourg wants to test the entire population

In the fight against the coronavirus, Luxembourg starts large-scale testing this week. The voluntary testing of a little over 600,000 inhabitants as well as of border commuters from Germany, France, and Belgium are to accompany the easing of contact restrictions, said Research Minister Claude Meisch. 8,500 students and teachers are to be tested before the reopening of schools on May 4th. At least 20,000 tests are planned per day.

Mr. Meisch said: "The goal is to test the entire population, some of them several times." "Because of the rather small number of citizens, this can be done "in a short time". As the first country in the world, Luxembourg will thus receive a complete overview of the number of infected citizens. Currently, citizens can only leave their homes or apartments for shopping, work, and visits to the doctor.

16:19 France to gradually ease exit restrictions from May 11th

A government declaration by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe states that France intends to gradually ease the curfew, that has been in force for six weeks, from May 11th. This will be accompanied by a face mask requirement in public transport as well as a massive extension of coronavirus testing to around 700,000 per week. In addition, there will be an app to track the pathways of infection. The first primary schools and nurseries will open on a voluntary basis from May 11th.

“We must learn to live with the virus,” the head of government stressed. The strict curfews in place since March 17th have prevented over 60,000 deaths,” the Prime Minister stressed. Continuing the measures would carry along the "risk of economic collapse". The government is expecting the gross domestic product to fall by eight percent. Parliament has already approved an aide package of 110 billion euro.

15:57 Merkel: "Keep up commitment to protect the climate" after pandemic

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a firm emphasis on climate protection in economic reconstruction measures after the coronavirus pandemic. In view of the economic damages caused by the pandemic, she expects difficult distribution discussions, said Ms. Merkel at the Petersberg Climate Dialog on Tuesday. "It will be all the more important to keep a firm focus on climate protection and make it clear that we are not saving on climate protection, but investing in sustainable technologies, when setting up economic recovery programs."

Ms. Merkel further warned against a purely national perspective. The issue much more revolves around "strongly pushing our international commitments, because this is essential to achieve global successes in climate protection."

15:27 Infection rate again corrected to 0.9

After its latest situation assessment, the Robert Koch Institute has once again reported a coronavirus reproduction ratio of 0.9. The reproduction number has dropped again based on data available at midnight April 27th, after previously rising to 1. RKI Chief Lothar Wieler reported a value of 1 in a press conference on Tuesday morning. He did stress, however, against any isolated consideration of the reproduction number in evaluating the course of the pandemic.

3:09 Venice calling out to visitors: come!

Venice has called for tourists to support the city. "I would like to invite anyone who can move in the coming months to ‘come to Venice’," said Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. The city is working to reopen the beaches. In September, the international film festival will be held. Brugnaro presented a document signed by 65 associations, in which they called on Rome to make clear guidelines on how and when hotels can resume work, for example.

Venice is dependent on tourism. The city is currently completely empty as a result of the strict curfews and travel restrictions that apply throughout Italy. Venice already struggled with low tourism figures before the coronavirus crisis, with a flood hitting the city hard in November. The UNESCO heritage site is usually overrun by tourists.

15:01 Thousands dead in British nursing homes

In England and Wales alone, 4,343 home residents have died in two weeks (April 10th to 24th), according to the National Statistics Office ONS. The facility operators fear that the pandemic still has not reached its peak in their homes. The number of deaths in homes is increasing significantly, they warned.

The statistics on CoViD-19 deaths published daily by the government only include deaths in hospitals. So far, more than 21,000 people have died in hospital as a result of their infection. Critics had always suspected a high number of unreported cases, partly due to the lack of coronavirus tests.

15:01 Kubicki sharply criticizes RKI: "Figures 'politically motivated'"

Deputy Head of the  DP Wolfgang Kubicki has sharply criticised the Robert Koch Institute RKI and its president Lothar Wieler because of coronavirus figures they regularly publish. These "rather give the impression of being politically motivated than based of science", Mr. Kubicki has said. He particularly pointed out the reproduction figure, which, according to RKI figures, has risen from 0.9 to 1.0 nationwide. While Minister President Markus Söder announced an R value of 0.57 for Bavaria, the state with the most infections, the RKI reported a value of 1 nationwide, said Mr. Kubicki. "Where this value comes from, with infection rates decreasing, is not even clear to the most positive observer.”

It is astonishing that Mr. Wieler points to a change in the method used to calculate the value and now to its to its decreasing relative importance. "It does not contribute to people taking the daily reports of the Institute seriously." In addition, the figures determined by the Helmholtz Center and the TU Ilmenau deviate significantly from the estimates of the RKI, said Mr. Kubicki, who is also Vice President of the Bundestag. "Evil to those who think evil of it. The R-value of the RKI rises just in time for the Chancellor's conference with the Minister-Presidents, during which they should be warned against any further relaxations.

14:43 Church services allowed again in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania

In the churches, synagogues, and mosques in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, church services can be held again from May 4. One person per 10 square metres of interior space will be allowed to attend, said Minister of Justice Katy Hoffmeister. The minimum distance of 1.50 metres must be respected. In addition, lists of participants must be kept to be able to trace the chain in the event of a coronavirus infection.

14:41 Relaxation plans in Saarland

Contact restrictions will remain in place in Saarland from May 4. "However, in the future there will be no prohibition on leaving your apartment subject to permission. Instead, leaving your apartment will generally be permitted," the government reported. In the future, prohibitions for individual actions would be issued, provided that this is necessary for hygiene and pandemic-related reasons.

14:38 Online survey in 18,000 care facilities

A research team at the University of Bremen aims to find out what challenges care institutions face in light of the coronavirus pandemic. They will contact more than half of all outpatient and inpatient care institutions in Germany by e-mail, a total of 18,000, the university reported. The goal lies in deriving proposals for state and federal policies. The researchers want to determine the extent to which staff and material resources are lacking and what changes in the framework conditions could help relieve the burden placed on care institutions.

14:30 Berlin follows suit - requirement to wear masks now in place nationwide

As is already the case for buses and trains, a requirement to wear masks is now also in place in retail in the entire country. Berlin is the last federal state to introduce this requirement, as decided by the senate according to media information.

14:19 Bavaria extends curfew

Bavaria is extending its existing curfew by one week until May 10. This has been decided by the cabinet in Munich. From May 4, however, individual relaxations will come into effect. For example, public church services and demonstrations with up to 50 participants will be allowed again.

14:17 Relaxations? Decisions will be made on May 6

Even though the reproduction rate has risen again, Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn is staying the course of planned relaxations. "This is an important factor, but the absolute number is also important," he said with regard to the reproduction rate on the one hand and the total number of cases on the other. "We have reached an absolute number which we can deal with better."

In the coming week, the federal government and the states wanted to discuss relaxations for gastronomy and tourism. "May 6 is now the date when we look at whether and what steps we can take."

2:05 p.m. Minister of Education: Students should attend school on certain days

No quick return to normality at schools: "Regular lessons will not take place before the summer holidays," said the chairman of the states' Conference of Ministers of Education Culture (KMK) and Minister of Education from Rhineland-Palatinate, Stefanie Hubig. However, State Premiers had agreed that all students should return to schools on a "weekly basis or on certain days" before the summer holidays and take part in lessons there. On Thursday, the federal government and the states  plan to discuss the KMK's concept.

13:47 Senior citizens’ organizations call for an end to visiting bans in care homes

The German National Association of Senior Citizens' Organizations has called on the federal government and the states to end visiting bans and curfews for people in care facilities. "Many people in care facilities are suffering considerably from this enforced solitude," said Franz Müntefering, chairman of the umbrella association of 120 senior citizens' organizations. Senior citizens' organizations have criticized the visiting ban and curfew, which have been in place for six weeks, as by far the most serious infringement of their fundamental rights during the current coronavirus situation. A certain degree of personal contact with the close relatives and co-residents must be ensured.

13:45 Mallorca faces an uncertain tourist season

The Balearic Islands are heavily dependent on tourism. Coronavirus could to a loss a third of all jobs. The islands' last hope is that guests from their own country will visit this summer.

13:15 "Turning the crisis into an opportunity with the Green Deal"

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has advocated sticking to the EU's climate and environmental plans during the coronavirus crisis. "If we use the European Green Deal as a compass, we can turn the crisis of this pandemic into an opportunity," the politician said in a video message. "Our opportunity to shape our economies in a different way and to make them more resilient. And we can pass on this world to our children as a better place."

On Monday and Tuesday, led by the federal government, ministers from around 30 countries discussed how to bring together economic recovery during the crisis and climate protection. The annual Petersberg Climate Dialog took place as a video conference for the first time.

13:07 Altmaier wants to examine shares in the health care sector more thoroughly

During the coronavirus crisis, Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier wants to tighten control of foreign investments in the health
care sector, with the goal of making it more difficult for German companies in strategically important areas to be acquired. This includes companies that develop or produce vaccines, medicines, protective equipment, or similar. In the future, the state will have the option to examine shares of ten percent or more purchased by investors outside of the EU.

"We need to be able to find out about critical and examine critical business purchases in the health care sector from third-party countries in a timely manner," Altmaier explained. It is not about questioning Germany's status as an open investment location. However, the federal government needs to be able to take a closer look. "This way, we can keep medical know-how and production capacities that are essential for the health care of the population from moving abroad."

13:00 Minute of silence for deceased doctors and care workers in Great Britain

Britain dedicated a minute of silence to the approximately 100 doctors and care workers who  have died following a coronavirus infection.

The UK is facing a lack of protective equipment in the fight against the pandemic. Doctors and care workers have criticized the fact that they are unable to protect themselves properly from coronavirus due to a lack of masks and suitable gowns. The government announced that it would provide support to the families of doctors and care workers who have died of CoViD-19 in the form of a lump sum of GBP 60,000 (about EUR 69,000) each.

12:55 Kretschmann: States want to regulate the 800 sqm limit together

According to Baden-Württemberg's Winfried Kretschmann, the federal states are striving for a common regulation for the controversial 800-square-meter limit for opening retail stores. The conference of state premiers planned for this week will deal with the consequences of the latest court decisions. "Whether or not we will make further adjustments will be discussed on Thursday", Kretschmann said after a meeting of the state government.

12:32 Pharmacies braving the coronavirus

Early and comprehensive protective measures taken by pharmacies such as Plexiglas shields, distance rules, disinfection, and access restrictions have apparently worked. So far, only 30 of the approximately 19,000 pharmacies nationwide have had to close temporarily due to coronavirus infections or suspected cases among employees. This means that 99.8 percent of all pharmacies remained open. This was revealed in a survey by NDR Info among the 17 state chambers of pharmacists.

12:22 Mass testing in high-rise complex: Five residents infected with coronavirus

Five residents of a sealed-off high-rise complex in Grevenbroich, North Rhine-Westphalia, have been infected with the coronavirus. Of the 377 residents tested, all other results were negative, according to the Rhein-Kreis Neuss. The residents gave samples for the tests in an elaborate procedure on Sunday. They have not been allowed to leave the premises since then.
The mass test was necessary because, according to authorities, infected residents had not observed the quarantine. The district explained that the positive test results were for a single person and four other infected persons from three families. It is expected that the quarantine for the other residents will be lifted in the course of the day.

12:19 Turkey supplies protective equipment to the USA

Turkey is helping the USA to cope with the coronavirus pandemic by supplying medical protective equipment. A Turkish military aircraft is bringing 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 protective suits, disinfectants, and goggles to the United States. Turkey is delivering the relief supplies at the request of the NATO ally, the authorities say. The US embassy spoke of a "generous donation", which shows that the relationship between the US and Turkey is strong.
Relations have been strained recently due to disputes over the Turkish purchase of a Russian missile defence system, the US sanctions against Iran, and the Syrian conflict.

12:03 Short-time work for more than half of German companies

Nearly 55 percent of companies in Germany have registered short-time work, according to the Institute of the German Economy (IW). Roughly eight out of ten companies strongly affected by the pandemic, have done so. However, 29 percent of the companies have also introduced short-time work, and the coronavirus crisis "has so far had little or no effect on them - an indication that companies want to be prepared if the economic situation worsens". According to the study, 32 percent of the companies that are using short-time work are paying a voluntary subsidy and six percent are paying a subsidy agreed upon by collective or company agreements.

11:54 Spain: the number of new infections decreases

The Spanish Ministry of Health has reported an increase in the number of infections by 1308 to a total of 210,773. The number of deaths rose by 301 to 23,822, which is also slightly slower than the previous day, when 331 deaths were reported. The figures are also well below the peak values of early April, when at times more than 900 deaths were reported daily.

10:57 Many Germans register as victims in the Tyrol investigation

More than 250 German holidaymakers have joined an investigation into the spread of the coronavirus in Tyrol. "So far, 285 people from several countries have stated that they will join the proceedings as victims - about 90 per cent of them are from Germany," the spokesman for the Innsbruck public prosecutor's office, Hansjörg Mayr, told "Focus Online". The authority is currently conducting an investigation into "endangerment of people through communicable diseases".
The Austrian state of Tyrol has made the headlines in recent weeks as a source of the coronavirus. Many people from different countries are said to have been infected with the virus, especially in the winter sports resort of Ischgl. The state and the tourism industry are accused of not reacting quickly enough to the spread and of having stopped the ski operation too late. The risk of infection is said to have been particularly high at the many après-ski parties.

10:45 SAP and Telekom working on Corona App

SAP and Deutsche Telekom have joined forces with the German government to develop a coronavirus app. "Yes, we are on board together with Deutsche Telekom," a spokesperson for the Walldorf-based software company told news agency Reuters. Deutsche Telekom announced that it has been asked by the federal government to support the project to develop an app for contact tracking of coronavirus infected persons.
The Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Ulrich Kelber, had previously praised the decentralized approach to the planned app. This model is "the better one for data protection reasons", he told ARD-Morgenmagazin.
Chancellor's Office Minister Helge Braun and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Sunday that the app should store the required data only on the mobile devices of the participants. This rejected Spahn's earlier ideas on central data storage, which had caused much criticism.

10:35 Federal Government cancels open house

The Federal Government's open house has been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event had been planned for the weekend of 15 and 16 August. Due to the pandemic, however, major events are currently prohibited until August 31. The fight against the coronavirus has "unavoidable effects on the federal government's event planning," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

10:26 Railway extends goodwill arrangement

Those who had planned a train journey over the coming long weekend and do not want to take part can exchange their ticket for a voucher. This applies to long-distance tickets from the Deutsche Bahn with a travel date through May 4, which were purchased up to March 13, the Deutsche Bahn told the German Press Agency. The vouchers are available online and are valid for three years. The railway is thus extending their goodwill arrangement, which previously applied to journeys up to April 30.
For long-distance journeys after May 4, customers can now also use their tickets flexibly until October 31 - provided they were purchased before March 13. Previously, the railway had only accepted these tickets through 30 June. This regulation also applies to economy and super saver tickets.

10:23 Hygiene expert in favor of opening of day-care centers and primary schools

The German Society for Hospital Hygiene has called for an immediate opening of day-care centers and primary schools. " They should definitely start again under a protective shield in order to put an end to the often unbearable situations for countless families", said board spokesman Peter Walger to the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". The evidence justifies a step-by-step reopening of kindergarten and schools, the infectiologist and intensive care physician continued.
He referred to findings from China, models from London, and the pre-publication of a study by Swiss researchers. "The general warnings that the opening of day-care centers and schools would lead to a surge in infection figures are definitely exaggerated," said Walger. "This would only happen if the risks of transmission remained unaffected." Where testing and mask protection is guaranteed, the doors should be opened "immediately".

09:48 General practitioners protest against lack of equipment

In an unusual campaign, general practitioners are demanding more support in obtaining protective equipment: they let themselves be photographed naked in their surgeries and post the pictures under the keyword #blankebedenken on the homepage of the same name and in social networks. They write: "We are your general practitioners. To be able to treat you safely, we and our team need protective equipment. When we run out of what little we have, we look like this."

09:16 Ifo Institute: German companies prepare for layoffs

According to the Ifo Institute, the German labour market is also facing job cuts as a result of the coronavirus crisis following short-time working. "The personnel departments of German companies are preparing for layoffs," said the Munich-based research institute, summarizing the results of a survey. The Ifo employment barometer, which was determined on the basis of the survey, had plunged to a record low of 86.3 points in April, from 93.4 points in March. "Unemployment in Germany will rise", the economic researchers conclude. The development is likely to affect all sectors of the German economy. According to the report, the service sector is also likely to see layoffs for the first time since the financial and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009.

09:11 Confusion over Lufthansa rescue package

According to insiders, negotiations on a billion-euro rescue package for Lufthansa in the coronavirus crisis have not yet been concluded. "There is no agreement," was the unanimous opinion in corporate and government circles. Previously, the online magazine "Business Insider" had reported that the German government wanted to acquire a stake of around nine billion euros in the group and in return was to receive a blocking minority and one or two supervisory board seats.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 1,144 new cases of CoViD-19 (156,337 total) and 110 new deaths (5,913 total) due to the virus
  • 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