This is a live blog from May 2nd, 2020.

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Short Facts

  • Saxony-Anhalt relaxes social distancing measures
  • 161.703 infections in Germany
  • Merkel: The vaccine has to be available for everyone
  • Spain relaxes curfew after 48 days

16:31 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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16:11 France wants to extend health emergency until July 24th

The French Government has decided to extend until 24 July the health emergency in place since March 24th. To end the measures adopted in the fight against coronavirus this month, as originally planned, "would be premature" and could allow the epidemic to flare up again, according to a draft law approved by the Council of Ministers. The bill has yet to be approved by Parliament; deliberations are due to begin on Monday.

The draft mainly revolves around the quarantine rules for infected persons coming to France. It also deals with the implementation of an "information system" on infected persons and their social environment. According to Health Minister Olivier Véran, the law is also intended to "consolidate"" the "legal framework" to gradually ease the curfew, with relaxations scheduled to begin on May 11th. "We will have to live with the virus for some time," Véran furthermore said.

The health emergency, which has been in force since March 24th and initially for two months, gives the government the power to implement measures such as curfews or seizures using fast-track procedures, as the country fights the virus. The government can also adopt rapid measures to support the economy during the crisis. France is one of the countries in Europe hit heaviest by the pandemic. On Friday evening, the authorities announced that almost 24,600 people have died so far from Covid-19, the lung disease caused by the coronavirus.

15:53 Green Party pleads for more social and medical aid

Green Party chairwoman Annalena Baerbock has called for more social and medical support for people in need of care and for families during the Corona crisis. "Life is more than just survival", Baerbock said at the first online party conference of the Greens. Protective clothing in nursing homes must ensure that visits can take place there, he said. He also said that more tests for nursing staff were needed.

Families also suffer greatly from the corona crisis. In many cases, women were bearing the main burden. They are torn between "home office, home work and home schooling". Childcare is not only a private matter. Social contacts are important for girls and boys. Even if "it gets really difficult at home", the care of the state is necessary. Baerbock pleaded for testing once a week in day-care centres as well.

15:40 Mr. Hans pleads for joint, regional pandemic concept

After criticising border controls between the Saarland and France, put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Minister-President of Saarland Tobias Hans demands a cross-border concept to fight pandemics in the future. Not only easier traffic across borders is necessary, said the CDU politician in Saarbrücken, but also a joint concept to fight future pandemics. “In the end, one cannot fight a pandemic with national measures alone.”

Mr. Hans has defended the controls on the border with France, “in light of the very heavy infection activity” in the French region Grand Est. “As long as testing and tracing are not in place with equal force or in parallel, there can be no joint fight against the pandemic.”

15:16 US coronavirus death toll exceeds 65,000

In the US, over 65,000 people have died of a coronavirus infection since the beginning of the pandemic. This is shown by the figures of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The number of confirmed infections is put at 1.1 million - around one third of the over 3.3 million global cases.

15:04 EU to deliver protective masks to Italy, Spain, and Croatia

The EU is moving forward with its plans to build up a strategic reserve of protective equipment during the coronavirus crisis, and is supplying an additional 330,000 FFP2 masks to Spain, Italy, and Croatia, informed EU Crisis Commissioner Janez Lenarcic. Germany and Romania are reportedly the first EU countries to declare their willingness to store the joint stock.

With protective clothing and masks in short supply and much more expensive during the crisis, the European Commission announced the establishment of a strategic reserve for all EU states in March. The EU fully finances purchases, but individual Member States take over purchasing and storage duties. Stocks are then brought to where they are most urgently needed.

14:23 Greens launch Germany's first digital party congress

The Greens have launched Germany’s first digital party congress. The focus of the state council, which corresponds to a small party congress, is on the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. The board’s main proposal, which the approximately 100 delegates will vote on early this evening, states that the costs of the crisis should be shared fairly, and that there should be no divisions within society.
Federal chairman Michael Kellner started the debate by encouraging a critical approach to crisis policies and the necessary measures. “Coronavirus is an exceptional situation. And that’s precisely why our thinking and the discourse must not stand still,” he said. The state council is taking place entirely online. The speeches will be broadcast live or played as video recordings.

13:55 Quarantine for migrants on the "Alan Kurdi" ends

The coronavirus quarantine of a 17-strong crew and 146 rescued migrants on board the German ship "Alan Kurdi" off the coast of Italy will end this Sunday. What will happen to the rescued migrants remains uncertain. The interior ministries in Rome and Berlin stated on request that discussions on the matter had not yet been concluded.

13:48 Discussion about German Bundesliga restart

Following three positive coronavirus tests at the 1. FC Cologne soccer club, discussions about a seasonal continuation of the Bundesliga continue. The DFL sees its test concept confirmed, critics speak of "negative symbolic power".

13:16 Saxony-Anhalt relaxes social distancing measures

Saxony-Anhalt is relaxing the social distancing measures that have been in place for six weeks. From Monday, gatherings of up to five people are permitted, even if these people do not live in the same households, the state government has decided. Until now, gatherings were only permitted with one other person from a different household.
In addition, people in Saxony-Anhalt will no longer need a good reason to leave the house. And from Monday, all retailers will be allowed to reopen, regardless of the size of their shop floor, but they must comply with certain regulations. These are specified in the fifth containment regulation launched by the cabinet in Magdeburg. According to this, hairdressers, massage parlors, podiatrists, nail and beauty studios, as well as driving schools can reopen as planned. Playgrounds will also be accessible again under certain conditions from May 8.
One of the conditions is that the districts grant permission in individual cases or as a general rule. The reason for easing the restrictions is the comparatively low numbers of infections in Saxony-Anhalt. So far, there have been 1,600 cases of Sars-CoV-2, and few new cases are being recorded on a daily basis. Between Thursday and Friday, seven new cases were reported. There have been 44 deaths to date.

12:59 Coronavirus boom for frozen pizzas

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in demand for frozen pizzas. There had even been supply bottlenecks, the manufacturers Dr. Oetker and Wagner told the news portal "". According to both manufacturers, salami pizzas were most in demand.

12:36 Coronavirus infection aboard the cruise ship "Mein Schiff 3"

A crew member on board the cruise liner "Mein Schiff 3", which has been moored in Cuxhaven since Tuesday, has tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the district and the shipping company TUI Cruises, the ship has been quarantined. There were no tourists on board, only crew members. The "Mein Schiff 3" had taken almost 3,000 crew members from numerous ships of the TUI fleet on board. From Cuxhaven they were to be taken to their home countries.

12:24 Spain eases "house arrest" restrictions after 48 days

The strict curfews in Spain to curb the coronavirus pandemic have been relaxed for the first time in almost seven weeks for leisure activities. The citizens of the country, which has been particularly hard hit by the crisis, were allowed to go out for a walk or do some outdoor sports on Saturday.
Beach promenades, such as the Paseo Marítimo in Barcelona, were already filling up with cyclists, joggers, and walkers in the early morning. Many people could be seen out in Madrid, especially on the avenues such as the Gran Vía or the Paseo de la Castellana.
Because of the restriction schedule, many people got up very early. In addition to local restrictions and strict rules, there are also time slots for enjoying the "new freedom": most adults and young people between 14 and 18 years of age are only allowed to leave the house between 6.00 and 10.00 a.m. and between 8.00 and 11.00 p.m. - special times apply for senior citizens and parents. Citizens older than 70 are allowed out between 10.00 and 12.00 and between 19.00 and 20.00. Children under 14 years of age may leave the house between 12.00 and 19.00 with one parent.
When walking, citizens are only allowed to walk up to one kilometer away from home. You are not allowed to leave the community when doing sports. Sports must be done unaccompanied, and walking is also allowed for two people, but only with someone from the same household. This easing is part of the four-phase plan with which Spain wants to achieve a "new normality" by the end of June. Each stage of the exit plan is to last two weeks.

12:15 Many have reservations about going to the hairdresser

For the first time in more than six weeks, hair salons in Germany will be allowed to open again next Monday. According to a survey, however, half of the German population is concerned about hygiene and the risk of infection. Although 25 percent have reservations, they still want to go to the salon. This was the result of a survey of 2034 people conducted by the polling institute YouGov on behalf of the news agency dpa. A further 13 percent of those questioned want to go to the hairdresser despite having major or very major concerns (eight and five percent respectively). Eleven percent, on the other hand, have firm intentions of keeping their distance because of the coronavirus: "I have great concerns and would therefore not go to the hairdresser for the time being," they answered with yes.

12:10 India extends curfew for one billion people

The world's largest curfew remains in place. The Indian government has extended the measures against the spread of the coronavirus for another two weeks after May 3rd. The whole country has been divided into different zones according to the spread of coronavirus cases. In the red zones, the hotspots of infection, very strict rules continue to apply. In the orange and green zones, where no new cases have occurred for at least three weeks, there will be some easing of restrictions. Delhi, Mumbai and other large cities on the Indian subcontinent belong to the red zones.

11:58 Habeck demands more clarity for schools and kindergartens

The chairman of the Green Party, Robert Habeck, has criticized the federal government's school and kindergarten policies. He told Deutschlandfunk radio that parents and children desperately need clarity on how to proceed with school and kindergarten openings now. "To have no perspective is simply gruelling", Habeck emphasized.

11:35 Federal Bank: More and more Germans pay electronically

According to the Federal Bank of Germany, more and more people in Germany are paying for their purchases contact-free with a debit or credit card during the coronavirus crisis. " Using a smartphone at the checkout has also become part of everyday life," said board member Burkhard Balz to the German editorial network.

With contactless payment, shoppers do not need to insert their plastic cards into a reader and enter a PIN at the terminal, but simply hold the card or smartphone up to the terminal. Transactions of up to 50 euros can be settled in this way.

According to a Federal Bank survey, 43 percent of people have changed their payment behaviour in recent weeks. "Of those people that have changed, 68 percent now pay more often contactlessly with cards," Balz said. The executive said he would like to see the development of a European payment system for mobile phones move more quickly. " It sometimes seems to me that some people are just now waking up," said Balz. But he is optimistic. "The pandemic underscores the importance of European system sovereignty in many systemically relevant areas." So far, Chinese and US suppliers dominate the market.

11:24 Reporters Without Borders: Coronavirus pandemic worsens situation for journalists

According to Reporters Without Borders, the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is being misused to repress, persecute, and harass independent journalists. The pandemic is used as an opportunity to silence independent voices, CEO Christian Mihr told radio station B5 aktuell. This development is being monitored globally and simultaneously. This development is particularly evident in China, where the Communist Party only allows its interpretation of Covid-19 and critics have suddenly disappeared, Mihr said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is taking equally strong action against media who question his handling of the Covid-19 disease. In Europe, Reporters Without Borders see a particularly negative example in Hungary: due to the coronavirus, President Viktor Orbán has introduced emergency laws threatening media workers with imprisonment. In the EU, according to the organisation's latest report, even countries such as Bulgaria and Poland are struggling with freedom of the press. The Scandinavian countries, in contrast, are exemplary, Mihr said. The situation in Germany is good, but there are some problems due to right-wing violence and the political desire for too much surveillance.

11:18 Merkel: Germany provides funding for coronavirus vaccine development

A vaccine against the coronavirus must be available to all people as soon as it is available, according to the demand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is about "how we develop vaccines, provide medicines and good diagnostic tools for people all over the world," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast.

The Chancellor spoke prior to an international donor video conference on the coronavirus crisis on Monday. Germany is one of the hosts of this conference, which the EU Commission has invited, and where financial resources are to be pooled for vaccine research, among other things. "Today, an estimated eight billion euros are still missing for the development of a vaccine," said Merkel. Therefore it is important that a large alliance commits itself to this work and that as many stakeholders as possible make financial contributions. This should also make it possible to develop and produce drugs. "Germany will make a significant financial contribution", Merkel announced. It is "one of the most important tasks to save millions of lives worldwide".

She continued that Germany would work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), which plays a key role in this matter. It is important "that a vaccine benefits all people once it has been developed" and that medicines and diagnostic tools "benefit as many people as possible". Therefore, it must be possible to produce them in large quantities. "We are convinced that we can only overcome this pandemic through joint action, international multilateral action," Merkel added. As the coronavirus is spreading worldwide, the disease "cannot be fought nationally, but only in a joint effort".

10:39 Ecuador: President concedes "problems" with Covid-19 deaths

Ecuador's president has acknowledged "problems" in dealing with the coronavirus deaths in his country. Faced with a collapse of the health system and a lack of space in hospital morgues, the government had problems " in the early stages" of the pandemic in housing the bodies, said President Lenín Moreno. The reason he gave was that the government wanted to provide "every Ecuadorian with a dignified burial" - "not like in other countries where mass graves were opened".

Ecuador is one of the countries in South America most affected by the pandemic. In the large city of Guayaquil, which is considered the coronavirus epicentre in Ecuador, the health authorities were completely overwhelmed by the large number of dead bodies, so that some of the deceased were left behind in houses or on streets. The government used the army as well as the police for support. Emergency containers were also set up to store the bodies.

In Ecuador, more than 26,000 infections with the novel coronavirus have been officially registered to date, and more than a thousand people have died of the lung disease Covid-19 caused by the virus.

10:14 Moscow: 250,000 Infected in the Russian metropolis

According to Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, more than a quarter of a million people in Moscow have already been infected with the coronavirus. Successive tests in the Russian capital have shown that approximately two percent of the population - more than 250,000 people - are infected, Sobyanin wrote in his blog on Saturday. Previously, 114,000 cases of infection had been officially reported throughout Russia - including 57,300 cases in Moscow. Sobyanin explained that the Russian capital has so far been able to contain the spread of the virus through curfews and other measures. The testing capacities have also been greatly expanded in recent weeks. However, the peak of the infection wave is still ahead.

Russia closed its borders with China in February because of the coronavirus and subsequently reported low infection numbers for weeks, while the numbers in Western Europe were rising rapidly. Since mid-March, however, the numbers have also been rising steadily in Russia. 1169 people have died so far. Moscow, which has an official population of 12.7 million, has been hit hardest.

09:50 Chinese province prepares for new coronavirus wave

The province of Heilongjiang in China is fighting to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic: while restrictions are being relaxed in other parts of the country, the provincial capital Harbin, with ten million inhabitants, is stepping up its measures. Restaurants there are no longer allowed to serve meals indoors, according to a report by the state broadcaster CCTV, citing an order by the authorities. The province borders on Russia and many of the infections found in Heilongjiang can be traced back to the Russian Federation. The provincial government has therefore already imposed certain entry bans.

09:36 First Berlin exhibitions open again

Following weeks of closed art galleries, the first exhibitions in the coronavirus crisis are once again opening their doors to visitors in Berlin. Initially, only galleries in Berlin will be open to the public. These are not only regarded as presentation rooms for the works of mostly contemporary artists, but are also retail spaces like other shops. For this reason, gallery owners are already able to allow interested parties into their premises - as long as the generally applicable rules of distance and hygiene are observed.

Galerie Konrad Fischer is one of the first to return from isolation with works by artist Thomas Schütte. The König Galerie is dedicated to the artists Jorinde Voigt and Jeppe Hein. Further exhibitions are to follow in the coming week.

08:33 BDI President calls for an economic timetable

In view of the coronavirus restrictions, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) has called for a definitive planning period for companies. "Our companies want and need to know in which stages social and economic life should start up again - and this should be done after the Chancellor's meeting with the Prime Ministers on May 6," BDI head Dieter Kempf told the newspapers of the Funke media group. Politicians, he said, must work continuously to ensure that the re-entry is as quick and reliable as possible. If the contact ban were to be further extended, massive losses in prosperity and permanent damage to the economy and society would have to be expected.

Kempf also called for a significant expansion of coronavirus tests. The current capacity is about 900,000 tests per week. He criticized that it is unacceptable that approximately half of this capacity remains unused during this period of continuing uncertainty about the magnitude of the coronavirus. Economic activity can only be boosted with reliable test results, he said. Since about two thirds of industrial jobs are located in rural areas, Kempf stressed that local health authorities need to set up mobile testing facilities at industrial activity centers.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 945 new cases of CoViD-19 (161,073 total) and 94 new deaths (6,575 total) due to the virus
  • Study shows that especially young people stockpiled
  • Infection rate in Germany still below one
  • Remdesivir receives special authorisation in the US
  • Unicef warns against supply bottlenecks of standard vaccines