This is the live blog for April 29, 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

  • Sick leave can be granted by phone until May 18
  • Emergency aid for independent ensembles - cancellation fees for artists
  • Federal government expects severe recession
  • Cabinet approves Corona wage bonus for nursing care for the elderly
  • Global travel warning extended until June 14
  • Thousands of Airbus employees face the threat of short-time work

17:35 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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17:26 Campaign against domestic violence

Federal Minister of Women's Affairs Franziska Giffey, in cooperation with supermarkets,  has launched the nationwide campaign "Not safe at home?" against domestic violence. " Most people spend almost their entire lives at home, especially during the coronavirus period," said the SPD politician. Not feeling safe in your own home is an "unbearable state of affairs". People are to be informed about offers of help: on posters, sales receipts, and companies‘ own-label goods in about 26,000 stores. The retail chains Aldi Nord and Süd, Edeka, Lidl, Netto, Penny, Real, and Rewe are participating in the campaign.

5:20 What will become of the Football League?

The federal government and states will discuss the future of the Football League season tomorrow as well as general easing for restrictions. The DFL (German Football League) had put forward a concept for further games. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said that the plans are unproblematic from the point of view of labor protection, His ministry has got stricter labor protection standards through in discussions with the association. The decision to resume playing lies with the Sports Ministers and the State Premiers: "I will not assess this very polarised debate beyond the scope of my ministry." However, he made one thing clear: "Of course, there will be no games with masks, anyone who knows a bit about this knows it is not realizable in sport."

16:43 Berlin’s Tegel Airport scheduled to close for the time being

Berlin’s Tegel airport is to be temporarily closed due to the coronavirus crisis and its almost idle flight operations. The operating FBB company’s supervisory board has agreed to this, said an FBB spokesman. The shareholders’ meeting - i.e. the owners: Berlin, Brandenburg, and the federal government – had to reach a final decision on this during the day. It is specifically about an exemption from the obligation to operate the urban airport. About 200,000 euro a day or seven million euro per month can be saved by closing Tegel Airport.

16:10 Protective masks from the supermarket

The first retail chains in Germany have been offering protection masks "at cost price" since this week. Aldi Süd first started selling packs of 10 in its stores today, as a company spokesperson reported. Competitor Lidl will sell one-way masks in packs of 50 in all its around 3200 branches from Thursday onwards. Rewe, Penny, and toom will gradually start selling protective masks from Saturday onwards. Edeka, according to information from it, is also introducing mask sales step by step in its stores. At Lidl, the 50-pack disposable masks will cost 33 euros. Aldi Süd, according to information from it, is also waiving its profit margin and is selling the pack of 10 for 6.99 euros. The Rewe Group also wants to sell the masks “at cost price”: a pack of 25 is to cost 16.99 euros.

15:53 Disaster warning app NINA gets an update

With increased demand for up-to-date information as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Federal Government has retooled its NINA disaster warning app. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has reported that the app, which is used to warn against forest fires or severe weather, is reaching capacity limits with around seven million users. The new version is now designed for up to 40 million users and offers new features. Among other things, users can now configure the app to send them up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic in the form of push notifications. The Ministry of the Interior stressed that the app does not collect location data or personal data from users. NINA is unrelated to the scheduled coronavirus warning app.

15:44 Switzerland to allow games behind closed doors from June 8th

Swiss professional soccer is starting up again. From June 8th, soccer games are allowed, but without spectators. This is made possible by the government easing coronavirus measures faster than planned. The games of the Swiss Football League championships can continue behind closed doors, after being interrupted since March. In Germany, there is still discussion about whether the Bundesliga season can be continued – and under what conditions.

15:40 Minister Heil expects record number of workers with reduced hours

According to Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil, the number of employees working reduced hours in Germany is breaking all previous records. "I expect that there will be in the millions," says the SPD politician. "Many more people" are reported to have been working reduced hours in March and April alone than in the 2009 crisis. During the peak of that period, there were almost 1.5 million workers on reduced hours. In the morning, the Federal Government had decided to provide further aid for people who are forced to work reduced hours. This is based on a decision by the heads of the coalition last week, who are looking to increase the compensation for longer periods of reduced hours to up to 80 percent of the last net wage – or up to 87 percent for people with children. Currently, the compensation amounts to 60 and 67 percent, respectively. People should also be able to receive unemployments benefits for longer.

15:26 Russia extends entry ban

Russia extends the entry ban for foreigners for an indefinite period of time – until there are improvements in the coronavirus pandemic. The restrictions initially applied until Thursday. It would not yet be possible to specify an end date for the restrictions, said Head of Government Michail Mischustin in Moscow. Exceptions are in place for foreign specialists, for example those who are necessary for the technical operation of equipment. Foreign flights have largely been grounded.

15:03 Flying with Lufthansa? Only with a face mask

Lufthansa announces an obligation for all passengers to wear mouth and nose protection on their flights. Furthermore, passengers are recommended to wear protection during the entire trip. The requirement to carry face masks on board will apply from Monday (May 4th) until August 31st of this year, in all airlines of the Group. The new regulation is imposed in place of the previous regulation, with the central seats in series of three seats being kept free. By wearing masks, passengers are sufficiently protected, explained Lufthansa.

14:59 US economy shrinks massively

The impact of the coronavirus crisis has led to an even greater collapse of the US economy than feared at the beginning of the year. Between January and March, the gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk at a rate of 4.8 percent, calculated for the year as a whole, as reported by the Department of Commerce. Experts had only expected a decrease of 4.0 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.1 percent was reported.

14:53 Austria sticks to plans to open the border

Despite the recently extended global travel warning by the German federal government, the neighboring country of Austria still plans to open the borders between Germany and the alpine republic in the near future. Despite the risk posed by coronavirus, the goal must be to grant freedom of travel again, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) in Vienna. The number of infections in Austria is now considerably lower than in some parts of Germany. “I expect that it will be possible to take appropriate steps here in the coming weeks, because it is simply and objectively well justified to do so,” said Kurz. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is also not ruling out agreements between individual European countries to allow for cross-border summer holidays.

14:35 Hamburg Elbphilharmonie plans to open in September

Despite the coronavirus crisis, the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie wants to start the new season in September. “We firmly believe that we can get open after the summer,” Director Christoph Lieben-Seutter said in an online presentation. Regulated concert life is conceivable, but of course not guaranteed. “The program aims to encourage and give hope.” Nevertheless, a plan B with a slimmed-down program is also in place. Like all cultural institutions, the Elbphilharmonie has been closed since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Since then, the concert hall has presented the digital program #ElphiAtHome - with virtual concert hall tours, small concerts, and older concert recordings.

14:23 Federal government expects the worst recession of the post-war period

Now it's official: the federal government expects the worst recession of the post-war period this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The gross domestic product will decline by 6.3 percent this year, Federal Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier said in Berlin while presenting the spring forecast. However, the government expects growth of 5.2 percent for the coming year "over the course of the recovery process." According to the forecast, the labor market will "experience tremendous pressure", and the working population is expected to decrease by 370,000 in the current year. Short-time work will rise "to an unprecedented degree" in March and April.

14:02 Cannstatter Wasen cancelled due to coronavirus

Following the cancellation of Oktoberfest in Munich, the Cannstatter Wasen has now also been cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic. This was reported by the city of Stuttgart on Wednesday. The second largest public festival in Germany after the Oktoberfest was scheduled to start September 25. It would have been the 175th Wasen. Last year, three and a half million people visited the festival.

13:48 States present phased plan for reopening restaurants and hotels

With a three-stage plan, the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Lower Saxony intend to gradually remove the coronavirus-related constraints on tourism, gastronomy, and the hotel industry. The reopening will start with outdoor tourist attractions such as zoos, leisure parks, and climbing gardens, the economics and tourism ministers of the three states reported. In the second phase, restaurants and the restricted use of holiday apartments and hotels would follow. Later on, overnight tourism will be possible without restrictions. The economic ministers’ conference will discuss this concept. The states themselves, in coordination with the federal government, will determine the exact dates when these individual phases will begin. For all these measures, "protecting the health of citizens must be the top priority".

13:39  Sick leave can be granted by phone until May 18

Initially until May 18,  employees can be granted sick leave on the phone, without having to visit the practice. The exemption introduced due to the coronavirus crisis has been extended, as the Federal Joint Committee of Physicians, Clinics, and Health Insurance Companies has announced. Otherwise, the exemption would have expired on May 4. The possibility to obtain a certificate of incapacity on the phone for up to seven calendar days for light respiratory diseases will continue to be in place for a limited time. The certificate can also be extended by another seven days on the phone. The Federal Joint Committee has announced that it will decide on another possible extension in good time before May 18, 2020. The aim is to reduce the possibility of infection and to relieve the burden practices currently face. The German Association of Family Physicians had requested that the special regulation be extended until at least the end of June.

13:31 Spahn: "We want to find infected individuals faster"

In Berlin, Minister of Health Jens Spahn presented the federal government's second legislative package to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. "We want to be able to find, test, and care for coronavirus patients more quickly in the future," said Spahn. "Only in this way can we effectively break through the infection chains and prevent an uncontrolled outbreak of the epidemic in Germany." The package of measures reflects the complexity of the pandemic. "They are neither easy to understand nor easy to combat - and it is far from over."

According to Spahn, a higher number of people in care homes without CoViD-19 symptoms will also be tested. In addition, laboratories will also be obligated to report negative test results in the future. The health authorities must also report recoveries. Currently, around 157,000 cases have been reported in Germany, 120,000 of which have recovered, said Spahn. Around 37,000 have an acute infection: "Since April 12, the number of acutely infected patients has declined on a daily basis."

The challenges faced by the health care sector vary greatly by region, Spahn emphasized. Nine federal states have seen fewer than 25 infections per 100,000 residents in the past seven days, while individual districts have had over 100."

13:00 Tegel Airport to close temporarily

The operating company of Berlin's Tegel Airport has decided to close the airport temporarily. The company is hereby responding to the extreme drop in passenger numbers during the coronavirus crisis. According to information from the news agency dpa, the supervisory board has agreed to submit a request to the aviation authority for a temporary exemption from the airport's operating obligation. Berlin’s air traffic would then be concentrated at Schönefeld Airport. However, this also requires the approval of the airport owners - these are the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg. They are getting together in a shareholder meeting this afternoon.

12:58 "We all need to speed things up together"

It will take a few weeks before the tracing app can enter the market in Germany. Michael Backes from the Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA) does not give an exact date in his interview with tagesschau24. All he says is: Germany must "deliver the app as quickly as possible." Backes welcomes the fact that the parties involved have expressed their support for decentralised data storage. His institute is supporting the project in an advisory role. The app is not a universal remedy, but only a part of the set of measures, says Backes. "The more people participate, the better."

12:52 Infection rate in almost all of Spain has fallen below one

Spain reports further progress in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In almost all parts of the country, the infection rate is now below one, said Fernando Simon, head of the emergency health authority. This means, mathematically speaking, that one infected person infects less than one other person. Further easing of protective measures can only be considered if the reproduction rate is below one, Simon added. In addition, the numbers of new infections and daily deaths are still well below the peak of early April. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of infections rose by 2144 to 212,917. The death toll due to the virus was 325 within 24 hours. This is slightly more than on Tuesday, when 301 people died. Due to follow-up reports from the past few days, the total number of deaths has increased by 453 to 24,275.

12:41 Lufthansa plans to gradually increase flights again

Lufthansa has announced that it will increase the number of weekly connections at its German hubs in Frankfurt and Munich by 50 to 330. The new Lufthansa flight schedule with the additional destinations of Athens, Porto, and Gothenburg will be in effect from May 18. The number of domestic German connections from Munich will be doubled.
The flight operations of foreign subsidiaries in Austrian and Brussels will remain closed for another two weeks until the end of May. Subsidiaries Swiss and Eurowings are also extending their emergency flight schedules from Switzerland and the smaller German airports until the end of May, they said. Long-haul flights continue to take off only from Switzerland and Frankfurt.

12:17 Emergency aid programs for independent musical ensembles

In addition to a cancellation fee for freelance artists in the coronavirus crisis announced today, the federal government is also providing up to 5.4 million euros in immediate aid for independent orchestras and ensembles. The Minister of State for Culture, Monika Grütters, announced that applicants could receive up to 200,000 euros from the program. One focus is on the promotion of presentation and mediation formats that are being developed in response to the pandemic.
The emergency aid program will run until the end of 2020 and is aimed at professional orchestras and ensembles based in Germany. The prerequisite is that the projects are carried out in Germany and that the orchestras are not predominantly publicly funded. The target group includes the Berlin-based Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Frankfurt Ensemble Modern and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.

12:07 Cabinet votes for more coronavirus testing

In view of the coronavirus epidemic, tests for the virus are to be significantly increased. This is part of a bill by Health Minister Jens Spahn, which the federal cabinet passed today. More tests are to be carried out, particularly in the environments of endangered people, for example in nursing homes. It will also be possible to conduct tests at the expense of health insurance companies, even if someone does not show any symptoms. Doctors and laboratories will also have to report negative test results and recovered cases.

12:04 Seehofer wants to prolong border controls

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wants to prolong controls at German borders until May 15th. He will present a proposal to that effect tomorrow in the Corona crisis cabinet, said the ministry's spokesman, Steve Alter. Afterwards, he said, there would also be an agreement on the matter with the Minister Presidents of the states affected by the controls.
The controls would expire on May 4. They were implemented in mid-March. Since then, the borders to Austria, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Switzerland have been monitored. In contrast, there are no controls at the crossings to Belgium and the Netherlands. However, monitoring in the 30-kilometer border area has been intensified in these sections as well.

12:02 Fuel prices fall for tenth week in a row

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, fuel prices in Germany have continued to fall. They sank on a national average for the tenth week in a row, according to the ADAC. One litre of Super E10 costs 1.136 euros - 2.4 cents less than the previous week. According to the automobile club, the price of diesel, however, is approaching the one euro mark. It averaged 1.040 euros - 3.8 cents less than the previous week.

11:52 Merz: Protection of life does not have absolute priority

In his statement on the coronavirus pandemic, Friedrich Merz, candidate for CDU party chair, has agreed with Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble that the protection of life is not the absolute priority. "Constitutional law has no hierarchy of basic rights, and for some time now several basic rights have been massively restricted", Merz told the newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau". So far, however, he has been on the conservative side, continued Merz. At the same time, he praised the German government's crisis management.
In view of the restrictions on many constitutional rights, Schäuble warned against subordinating everything for the protection of life in the coronavirus crisis. If there is an absolute value in the constitutional law at all, it is human dignity, he told the newspaper "Tagesspiegel". This is inviolable. Protestant theologian Margot Käßmann welcomed the discussion initiated by Schäuble. At the moment she feared that "dignity would be tarnished, for example if dying people were not allowed to hold the hand of a loved one, if funerals were held - I know this from colleagues - and the whole family was not allowed to come.

11:28 Federal government expects severe recession

The German government is expecting a severe recession in Germany as a result of the coronavirus crisis. According to its spring projection, gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to fall by 6.3 percent this year, as reported by the dpa news agency from coalition circles. This would be a stronger economic slump than in the global financial crisis more than ten years ago. According to forecasts, the level before the coronavirus crisis will only be reached in 2022.

11:19 Cabinet approves Corona wage bonus for nursing care for the elderly

Employees in nursing care for the elderly are to receive a tax- and social security contribution-free salary bonus of up to 1500 euros as compensation for a special burden caused by the coronavirus crisis. According to information from government circles, the federal government approved a corresponding proposal from Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) on Wednesday. Two-thirds of the funding is to come from the nursing care insurance funds and one-third from the states and employers. Employees who spend at least a quarter of their working time directly on nursing care should receive a bonus of up to 1000 euros, and apprentices 900 euros. Other employees in care for the elderly will receive up to 500 euros.
The Workers' Welfare Association (AWO) had previously strongly criticized the proposal by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), according to which the planned care bonus would be paid in part by employers. The planned cost allocation would be a "breach of a promise", AWO head Wolfgang Stadler told the editorial network Germany.

The obligation to wear masks when shopping or using public transport in Rhineland-Palatinate has been deemed legal. This was decided by the administrative court in Mainz. The court stated that compulsory masks pursue the legitimate purpose of preventing the health system from being overloaded by the Covid 19 pandemic. By wearing masks, among other measures, new infections could be avoided as far as possible while easing restrictions. The claimant had argued that wearing a mask would affect her health. The Administrative Court in Hamburg had also rejected an emergency appeal against the obligation to wear masks.

10:56 Poland eases coronavirus restrictions

Poland continues to relax restrictions to control the coronavirus and plans to reopen hotels and shopping centers on May 4th. A reopening of preschools on May 6 is also being considered, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Poland already started to ease some restrictions at the beginning of April pointing to costly consequences for the economy. For instance, more customers were admitted to the shops at the same time.

10:45 Cabinet extends travel warning until June 14

The Federal Cabinet has extended the worldwide travel warning until June 14. The cabinet will not make a decision about the summer holidays until then, according to information from the news agency Reuters. Previously, the travel warning was valid until the beginning of May. The Foreign Office had made a corresponding proposal. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has repeatedly warned in the past few days that a summer vacation by earlier standards could not take place this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

10:35 Thousands of Airbus employees face the threat of short-time work

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will most likely be putting several thousand employees in Germany on short-time work due to the coronavirus crisis. France will also likely have thousands more employees on short-time work, said Airbus boss Guillaume Faury. The aircraft manufacturer suffered a loss of 481 million euros in the first quarter due to the consequences of the pandemic, after a profit of 40 million euros in the traditionally weak first three months last year. Airbus is financially well prepared for the crisis, said CFO Dominik Asam. He assumes that the company will not need any state aid. In early trading, Airbus shares rose by 1.9 percent.

10:06  Electricity consumption reduced by the coronavirus

Electricity consumption in Germany has fallen noticeably in many parts of the economy since the widespread standstill. These are the results of calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). "Electricity consumption is strongly influenced by industrial production, where it has dropped by around 20 percent since the lockdown," the IfW reported. During the period of the "hard lockdown from March 23 to April 19", German electricity consumption on workdays was on average 7.5 percent below the normally expected value - "with a clear downward trend". Since the easing of the restrictions on April 20, power consumption has increased again somewhat and is now an average of 6.6 percent below expectations.

09:51 Abe: 2021 Olympics difficult without victory against coronavirua

As long as the coronavirus pandemic has not been defeated, the chances of hosting the already postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo next year are very slim, according to Japan's head of government Shinzo Abe. "The Olympic Games must be held in such a way that the world can see that it has won the battle against the coronavirus. Otherwise it will be difficult to stage the games," Abe said in parliament. Originally, the games were scheduled for this summer in Tokyo. However, due to the pandemic, they have been postponed for a year.

09:41 Automobile industry calls for purchase premiums also for diesel and petrol cars

The German Automotive Industry Association (VDA) is calling for purchase premiums not only for electric and hybrid cars, but also for diesel and petrol vehicles. Modern combustion engines also make a "considerable contribution to environmental and climate protection," VDA President Hildegard said on Deutschlandfunk radio. She said the automotive industry was committed to the climate targets and was investing billions in e-mobility. However, many consumers are unable to buy an electric car, for example because the infrastructure is lacking. Consumers are uncertain about their own future, she said. It is "important that buyer confidence is restored". Therefore, the industry needs a "new start premium".
The state premiers of Lower Saxony, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg plan to discuss possible premiums this afternoon.

09:28 Dispute between Australia and China escalates.

In the dispute over the independent investigation of the coronavirus outbreak demanded by Australia, China is sharpening its tone towards the government in Canberra. "The Chinese Embassy doesn't play petty games, it's not our tradition. But when others do, we have to reciprocate," explained an embassy spokesman.
The mood in the bilateral relationship between the two countries has been strained in recent weeks after Australia's Prime Minister Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus. Even though Australia's largest trading partner may feel offended, Australia will continue to press for the investigation, the prime minister said. His demands are not directed at a specific country.

09:10 Tourism Commissioner: Vacationing at home is the order of the day this year

The Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, Thomas Bareiß, assumes that long-distance travel will not be possible in the foreseeable future. "We hope that, if health permits, travel restrictions can be gradually lifted and we are able to at least travel within Europe again," he told Bayerischer Rundfunk radio. "But the whole process is progressing really slowly and I believe that this year we will have to plan on vacationing at home." According to Bareiß, an extension of the Foreign Office's worldwide travel warning is also on the agenda for today's Cabinet meeting.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 1,304 new cases of CoViD-19 (157,641 total) and 202 new deaths (6,115 total) due to the virus
  • Minister of Sport allegedly recommend the restart of the Bundesliga in May
  • Government apparently wants to extend global travel warning to at least June
  • Infection rate now at 0.9 again
  • More than 200,000 infections in Italy
  • More than a million infections in the US