This is a live blog from May 3, 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

  • First churches to hold services again
  • RKI reports 793 new cases of infection - 162,496 in total
  • Poland lifts restrictions for commuters
  • Many new infections in Russia
  • Johnson talks about Covid-19 disease

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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16:03 Lufthansa expects discussion on state aid to be “finished soon”

Lufthansa expects the negotiations on billions of state aid to “be finished soon”. “The support of the German state would be a decisive step towards our future viability,” the Board surrounding Group CEO Carsten Spohr wrote to the workforce in an internal communication. The exchange with the German government was said to be “intensive and constructive”.

Lufthansa is negotiating with the German government on aid amounting to around ten billion euro, some of which could flow into the Group as a silent partnership. In return, state participation is also on the table. However, Mr. Spohr rejects excessive state influence, for example in the form of positions on the Supervisory Board. Tomorrow, the Executive Board is looking to discuss the situation with the Supervisory Board, with the annual general meeting to follow on Tuesday.

15:54 Memorial event in Neuengamme without spectators

The liberation of the Neuengamme concentration camp 75 years ago would initially be commemorated with a large ceremony. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, only a very small-scale commemoration was held – the rest of the ceremony moved online. Mayor Peter Tschentscher, President of the Hamburg Parliament Carola Veit, and Senator for Culture Carsten Brosda laid a wreath on the grounds, without any spectators present.

The concentration camp memorial site published short video messages from guests who were originally invited to the memorial service on its homepage. The ceremony will be held next year on May 3rd.

15:43 UK death toll exceeds 21,000

In the UK, the number of hospital patients who have died from a coronavirus infection has risen to 21,180. In the past 24 hours, 327 people have died, reports the National Health Service. Johns Hopkins University, which lists all coronavirus deaths, reports a total UK death toll of 28,205 so far.

15:31 Former Chair of the Ethics Council opposes restart Bundesliga

The long-standing chairman of the German Ethics Council, Peter Dabrock, expresses vehement opposition to possible resumption of Bundesliga play. "I consider this idea medically and epidemiologically irresponsible – both with regard to the teams and the thousands and thousands of fan meetings that should be expected, all of them mini hotspots. Practically, I consider it unfeasible and problematic from a legal point of view. Above all, I think it would be critical, or even devastating, to society if they were to resume play now," the Theology Professor at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg has said to the Monday edition of the "Nürnberger Nachrichten". If soccer gets a preferential treatment, "it would be the completely wrong signal to send at the moment – also with a view to coronavirus test capacities, which are urgently needed in other areas," Mr. Dabrock continued.

The German Soccer League (DFL) recently presented a concept for restarting play in the coming weeks. The DFL is now hoping for the approval of politicians.

14:54 Tel Aviv postpones pride parade

The Israeli coastal metropolis Tel Aviv has postponed the gay pride parade planned for next month for the foreseeable future. A spokeswoman for the city said that in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers of the four largest pride parades in Israel - Haifa, Jerusalem, Beershev, and Tel Aviv - had jointly decided to postpone them for the time being. But they are hoping to make up for it later this summer, she said, without giving any concrete dates. Israel's gay pride parade attracts many visitors from all over the world every year. Last year, about 250,000 people participated in the event, demanding equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals (LGBT).

14:47 Religious services in times of coronavirus

Almost two months after the coronavirus lockdown began, the first churches have started celebrating communal services again under stringent conditions. This means that strict hygiene regulations are in place during the ceremonies and worshippers must keep their distance. Nevertheless, it was "incredibly moving", reports a woman who attended mass at Cologne Cathedral.

14:25 New rules for commuters from Poland

From May 4, new rules will apply to Polish citizens who work or study in Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, or Lithuania. According to a regulation issued by the government in Warsaw, commuters returning to Poland will no longer have to spend 14 days in quarantine. However, this regulation does not apply to those who work in a medical profession or in care institutions, according to the decree from April 30. On Friday there were protests against this exemption for medical personnel on the German side of the Linken-Lubieszyn border in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, as reported by the news agency PAP.

In mid-March, the national conservative government in Warsaw decided to close internal EU borders for foreigners. This closure is to remain in place until May 13. Exceptions apply to people with permanent residency permits, HGV drivers, and diplomats. Since then, Poles returning from abroad have been placed under quarantine for 14 days. This regulation has impacted commuters on the border to Germany and the Czech Republic particularly badly. According to the health ministry, as of Sunday there were 13,693 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Poland and 678 deaths.

14:14 EU decision on Remdesivir possibly "in a few days"

According to Swedish reports, the European Union is considering the authorization of Remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus infections. A high-priority examination is taking place in the EU and a decision could be made "in a few days", said Charlotta Bergqvist, who runs the Division for Infectious Diseases at the Swedish Medicines Authority, TV4. In recent days, the US Medicines Authority FDA granted permission to treat patients in hospital for serious Covid-19 disease with Remdesivir. The medicine was originally developed for the treatment of Ebola.

14:14 Airports closed in the Philippines – workers stuck abroad

The Philippines has closed its airports due to the expected return of tens of thousands of workers from abroad. In doing so, the authorities want to relieve pressure on quarantine facilities, the head of the government's antivirus task force, Carlito Galvez, told the state news agency PNA. Hundreds of thousands of Filipino migrant workers have been affected by the airport closures, which came with only eight hours' notice, according to the Philippine media. Many have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis and are stuck in their host countries, it was said.

The export of labour is a key economic factor in the Philippines. In 2019, according to government figures, more than 12 million Filipinos (10 percent of the population) were working as domestic and care workers, construction workers, sailors and in oil fields worldwide. They thus contribute ten percent to the gross national product.

14:05 Cologne player puts coronavirus criticism into context

An interview with Cologne player Birger Verstraete has created a bit of a stir. After two players and an FC coach tested positive for coronavirus, the midfielder told the TV station "VTM" that it was "a bit bizarre" that the whole team wasn’t being put under quarantine. In response, 1. FC Cologne rejected any wrongdoing. Verstraete has since retracted his comments and apologized. After the tests, he had spoken in an interview about personal concerns regarding his girlfriend, who belongs to one of the at-risk groups. "I expressed myself incorrectly in some instances, which caused the translation to create a misleading impression, which I regret. Instead of giving an emotionally driven interview, I should have sought advice from our doctor about my concerns," said the 26-year-old Belgian national in an announcement by the Bundesliga football club.

The club stated: "In accordance with the medical concept of the German Football League DFL, our club will only train and play with players who have been found not to be infected with the novel coronavirus by two separate consecutive tests."

13:31 Müller: Coronavirus crisis is "wake up call for humanity"

Development Minister Gerd Müller has described the coronavirus crisis as a "wake-up call for mankind to deal with nature and the environment differently". "This idea of ever faster and harder capitalism of the last 30 years must stop," the CSU politician told the newspaper "Rheinische Post".
"One of the triggers of the pandemic is the overexploitation of nature, the clearing of the rain forests. That is why we have to rethink and cannot simply return to the normality of globalization."

13:06 Government announced wrong coronavirus figure

The infection numbers cited by the Federal Government during the state-federal summit on Thursday were too high. The number of 40,000 acute infections was allegedly not correct, a spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Health admitted. In fact, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute, only about 29,000 people are infected.

The wrong figure appeared in a guest contribution from Spahn in the FAZ and was cited by Merkel during the press conference after the meeting.

12:32 Saxony plans to reopen restaurants from May 15

According to Saxony's Minister for Economic Affairs, Martin Dulig, the cafés, pubs and restaurants that have been closed for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic should quickly have clarity as to when they can reopen. Should the infection figures allow it, he is proposing to reopen outdoor areas under strict conditions on May 15.

"One could test whether the security precautions are working before everything builds up over the Pentecost weekend", the SPD politician said. At Pentecost, further easing of restrictions in the hospitality sector – for example opening up interior areas – could then follow. Dulig is planning to suggest May 15 to the Minister President at the next federal-state conference call on May 6.

12:28 Maas demands "explanation about origin" from China

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called on China to help clarify the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. "The whole world has an interest in clarifying the exact origin of the virus", Maas told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group.

China had an opportunity to prove "how transparent it actually wanted to be about the virus". The US and China in particular are arguing about the origin of the novel coronavirus. According to the Chinese authorities, the coronavirus was passed to humans from a wild animal market in Wuhan. However, there has been speculation for some time that the virus could have originated in a laboratory in Wuhan.

In addition to the US, a number of other countries are also demanding more transparency from China about the origin of the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that it wants to participate in the investigations into the origin of the coronavirus in China.

12:13 Iran plans to partially reopen mosques

According to President Hassan Rouhani, coronavirus restrictions in Iran will be eased further. From Monday onwards, mosques in 132 cities that have been classed as coronavirus-free by crisis teams will reopen in compliance with hygiene regulations. Friday prayers will also be held there again, the president said. But he did not state which cities they were.

According to the Ministry of Health, Iran has recorded further successes in the fight against coronavirus, despite easing some of the restrictions. According to official reports, 96,448 infections and 6,156 deaths have been recorded in the country.

12:02 The host in a plastic bag? "That is absolutely impossible"

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, has criticized the limitations of ecclesial life due to excessive coronavirus measures. In an interview with the Italian news portal "Daily Compass", he said: "No one has the right to prevent a priest from giving the communion or hearing a confession."

He added he did not think much of online services during the crisis. They lead down the wrong path, even for the priests. “They have to look at God – not into a camera,” said the Cardinal. He wholeheartedly rejects the idea of distributing the sacramental bread in plastic bags during the service due to hygiene reasons. “No, no, no – that’s absolutely impossible. God deserves respect. You can’t pack him into a bag.” That’s “total madness”.

11:24 Seehofer condemns attack on ZDF team

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has condemned the attack on a team of the ZDF "heute show" in Berlin: Those who attack journalists must "feel the power of our constitutional state", Seehofer stressed. Violence and threats of violence must be outlawed - "this is about the basic values of our community".

The seven-member team of the satirical program, which included cameramen, an editor, and comedian Abdelkarim as well as three security staff, had been filming a demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions on Friday. According to police, the team was then attacked so brutally by 20 to 25 masked people, that six of them had to be treated in hospital. According to initial findings by the Berlin authorities, suspects who were temporarily arrested are considered to be left wing radicals.

11:18 First service in Cologne Cathedral after six week break

The first public service in the Cologne Cathedral since March 14 was celebrated today. In recent weeks, the coronavirus pandemic had led to broadcasting church services over the Internet, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said in his welcome address. "Many simply worked as Corona Angels, keeping an eye on old and endangered people." He said it was nice to be able to celebrate Holy Mass together again.

10:42 Debate on the restart of the Bundesliga

After three positive coronavirus tests at 1 FC Cologne, the head of the DFL task force, Tim Meyer, had to admit weaknesses in the hygiene strategy. " Too many positive cases can certainly shake this system. There's no question about it," said the German national team doctor to Sport1.

Sports physician Fritz Sörgel advocates a continuation of the season in the German football league for scientific reasons. The pharmacologist sees the matches as a chance to carry out a study of the coronavirus that has not been possible until now. "If you get away from the fact that a sporting competition is taking place, these ghost games essentially fulfil the criteria for a scientific study," wrote Sörgel in an article for the "Tagesspiegel".

Former Bundesliga coach Winfried Schäfer does not expect the football season in Germany to continue. "I think it's important for the Bundesliga that it happens. But I don't believe it," the 70-year-old said in an interview with the "Rheinische Post" newspaper.

10:17 Seehofer praises the faithful

The Federal Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, has praised the contribution of religious communities in overcoming the coronavirus crisis. "Christians at Easter, Jews at Pessach, and Muslims at Ramadan - all have had to and must renounce joint services and celebrations in the circle of family and friends," he wrote in an article for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung". The religious communities were affected by severe restrictions as were all other social groups.

10:10 Numbers in Russia rising fast

The number of new coronavirus infections in Russia has reached a new record. According to the authorities' announcement on Saturday, 9623 new cases were added in 24 hours - more than ever before. This means that there are now more than 124,000 confirmed infections nationwide. So far 1222 people have died as a result of the coronavirus infection.

For days, the number of infections in the world's geographically largest country has been rising rapidly - despite curfews to prevent the pathogen from spreading further. According to statistics from the American Johns Hopkins University, Russia now ranks seventh in the world in terms of the number of cases of infection. Moscow, a metropolis of millions, has been hit the hardest. Around 62,600 infections are currently registered there.

09:17 Eurostar train line introduces compulsory masks

Passengers on Eurostar trains between Paris, Brussels, and London will be required to wear a mouth and nose mask beginning Monday due to the coronavirus pandemic. "From May 4, passengers will be required to wear a face mask or face cover at our stations and on board, as required by French and Belgian government regulations," the company announced on Saturday.

Failure to comply with the mask requirement could result in expulsion from the train and fines from the French and Belgian authorities, Eurostar continued. The high-speed trains connecting Paris and Brussels to the British capital London are running much less frequently than during normal times because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike in France and Belgium, the UK does not require masks on public transport. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted this week that he considers such a requirement "useful" once the first easing of coronavirus restrictions come into force.

09:15 Czechia considers opening its borders in July

The Czech government is considering reopening the country's borders in July. According to the CTK news agency, Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said that talks on this matter with Austria and Slovakia were well advanced, but those with Poland were complicated. "I would like to open the borders with Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia in July."

If the situation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic continues to develop positively, the borders could be opened earlier. In mid-March, the Czech government imposed an exit ban on its own citizens as a protective measure against the spread of the coronavirus, but lifted it again at the end of April. After returning from abroad, Czechs must now undergo a coronavirus test.

Border controls are currently planned to remain in place until May 14. According to the Ministry of Health on Saturday, the Czech Republic has 7750 confirmed coronavirus cases and 245 deaths.

08:53 Spahn asks Ethics Council to state its position on immunity cards

According to a newspaper report, Health Minister Jens Spahn has asked the German Ethics Council for a statement on the planned corona immunity card. As reported by the newspaper "Bild am Sonntag", Spahn wrote to the Ethics Council that it is "a matter of concern to him that ethical aspects are given sufficient consideration in implementing the regulation".

The ethics experts were therefore asked to give an assessment of "how and in what context the proof of immunity should be used," the newspaper quoted from the minister's letter. The introduction of an immunity card is part of another Corona law, which will be debated in parliament next week. If it can be scientifically proven that a person who has recovered from a corona virusinfection has immunity and cannot infect anyone else, the persons concerned should be able to have this immunity certified - similar to a vaccination certificate.

The German Ethics Council discusses central ethical questions and issues regular statements. It has 26 members, half of whom are appointed by the parliament and half by the federal government. Among them are several scientists from different fields.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

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