This is the live blog for March 20, 2020.

Head here for today's news: https://www.lengoo.de/blog/03-31-2020-live-blog-for-covid-19-updates-in-germany-in-english/

Many non-German native speakers are facing quite a challenge to stay on top of the news concerning the development of the situation of CoViD-19 specifically in Germany. Because of that, we curate a live blog in English for all people living in Germany. The information published on this site is translated from German and based on the live blog of Tagesschau | We are publishing translations between 09:00 am CET and 18:00 pm CET

18:23 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).


17:58 EU wants to suspend deficit rules

In an unprecedented step, the EU Commission intends to suspend the European rules on Member States’ budget deficits until further notice due to coronavirus. For the first time, the EU Commission will activate the "general escape clause" in the EU Stability and Growth Pact, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. "The step means that national governments can inject as much liquidity as necessary into the economy."


17:41 Spain: Conference centre turns into hospital

Spain is transforming a conference centre in Madrid into a large military hospital to accommodate thousands of coronavirus patients. The hospital is supposed to have 5,500 beds, including intensive care beds. After Italy Spain is most affected by the pandemic in Europe. 235 people died there within the last 24 hours due to coronavirus, more than ever before in one day.


17:36 Poland uses confiscated vodka as a disinfectant

In Poland, alcohol confiscated in raids finds new use in the coronavirus crisis. Public authorities transferred a total of 430,000 litres of alcohol to public institutions, which is then used as a disinfectant. The illegal goods, including vodka, should have actually been destroyed, the prosecutor’s office and the tax authorities explain. Now they are used to clean public transportation and hospitals.


17:35 Penalties for homeless people for violating the curfew

In several French cities, the police have apparently imposed fines on homeless people because of the nationwide curfew. In Paris, an umbrella association of about 800 aid organisations criticized that such cases occurred in Paris, Lyon and Bayonne. The Fédération des acteurs de la solidarité (FAS) called for the "immediate end of the penalties".
According to the French authorities, several dozen homeless people have been infected with the coronavirus. Special reception centres will be set up for them in the coming days. The government wants to house healthy homeless people in empty hotels.


17:23 Italy: 380 deaths in one day

According to media reports, more than 380 people have died due to the coronavirus in Lombardy within the last 24 hours. Lombardy is the most affected region in Italy. In total, 2,550 people have died of the disease in the northern Italian region.
In the US, the number of deaths due to coronavirus has risen to more than 200. According to the renowned Johns Hopkins University, more than 14,200 infections and 205 deaths have been confirmed by Friday. Authorities expect a further steep increase in the number of cases, as significantly more people are being tested.
There are at least 16,000 known cases of coronavirus in Germany. 53 people have died of Sars-Cov-2 nationwide so far. According to Robert Koch Institute, two more German citizens died while travelling in Egypt.


16:51 US Government Introduces Corona Aid Package

Washington wants to tackle the economic consequences due to coronavirus with a billion-dollar stimulus package. Most taxpayers are expected to receive a check of US$ 1,200 as a result of a proposed legislative package and there is an additional US$ 500 per child. The government wants to inject around US$ 1 trillion (900 billion Euro) into the economy overall.
Republicans now want to discuss the project with the Democrats, but they still see the need for improvement: They also want to strengthen health care and unemployment insurance.
The government also postpones the deadline for tax declarations, giving citizens and companies more time for due payments. The tax declaration deadline will be postponed from April 15 to July 15 according to the Minister of finance Steve Mnuchin.


16:43 Detention for coughing at police officers

Due to the intentional coughing at police officers and the threat of a coronavirus infection, a man in the Netherlands was sentenced to ten weeks' imprisonment. In The Hague, a judge declared him guilty of a threat of death or severe abuse. The judge also wanted to set an example with the verdict. Due to the coronavirus it was particularly reprehensible that the man wanted to infect police forces. Just now our emergency forces deserve our protection," he says in the ruling. The 23-year-old convict is not infected with the virus.


16:25 Hamburg bans public assemblies

In Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher declared that public assemblies of more than six people are prohibited. Exempt of this rule are families and groups of employees. Additionally, all restaurants have to be closed. Until now they were allowed to open until 6 p.m.


16:06 German Cities Council: Nation-wide curfews as the last means

The German Cities Council considers nation-wide uniform curfews due to the coronavirus to be the last resort if all other measures fail. “We as cities do not want curfews. But if they were to become a necessity, then we would favour a national solution,” said Managing Director Helmut Dedy. Varying approaches regarding curfews from city to city would only create uncertainty.


15:55 Fraport sends 18,000 employees in short-term work

The airport operator Fraport is sending 18,000 of its approximately 22,000 employees in Frankfurt in short-term employment due to dramatically limited operations. This would initially apply until the end of May, the company informed. The severity of the reduction in the volume of work should be determined on a case-by-case basis. “It is our stated objective to avoid enforced redundancies,” Fraport Chief Stefan Schulte explained.


15:28 Giffey: "Stop it!"

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, has urged young people to follow the coronavirus protection rules: "It is incomprehensible to me that some people are still having barbeques, as though nothing has happened. It is unacceptable to be planning corona parties right now," she told the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung." She appealed to young people, "Stop it!"


15:09 Lower Saxony also closing restaurants

In a bid to combat the coronavirus epidemic, Lower Saxony is closing all restaurants and cafes from Saturday evening. This was announced by State Premier Stephan Weil in Hanover. However, the off-trade sale of food will remain possible. Similar measures were previously taken in other federal states.


15:01 Ramelow praying for rain

Thuringian State Premier, Bodo Ramelow, has urged people not to meet in groups because of the risk of infection from coronavirus. “It’s simply a necessity to wind down public life right now and everyone should have a reason for being out and about in public,” Ramelow told the "Mittagsmagazin". Stopping routes to infection is the priority. Ramelow emphasized that not all people had understood this yet. In Thuringia, the city centers had been packed in recent days. "I am delighted when the weather is nice. But at the moment, I pray to God that it rains, that it rains all day," Ramelow said.


14:56 SPD leader Esken against curfews

SPD leader Saskia Esken is sceptical of curfews in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. "I find the idea problematic, because the onset of cabin fever is a possibility - especially where children are concerned," Esken told the "Handelsblatt". She hopes that the appeals of the Federal Government will be followed. She had previously already questioned the measures on Twitter.


14:53 Federal Government distributes protective equipment

The Federal Government has begun to supply hospitals, medical practices, and care facilities with protective medical clothing. The first deliveries from the depots went to statutory healthcare providers and to the German states, a spokesperson from the Federal Ministry of Health said. Further deliveries are expected over the weekend, which could then be distributed. "We are talking about several tens of millions of protective masks that we are currently purchasing and distributing," the spokesman stressed.


14:52 Kretschmann responds: new restrictions in Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg's head of government, Winfried Kretschmann, has announced stricter restrictions in the fight against coronavirus: Group meetings in public places are prohibited. Gatherings of more than three people are forbidden. People are no longer permitted to transit from high-risk areas. All restaurants and pubs are to close from Saturday, and are only allowed to sell food to take away. Many people have already followed the recommended restrictions. "But there are too many who are not sticking to them," says Kretschmann.


14:40 Hesse: Small gatherings only – restaurants to close from Saturday

Hesse's Prime Minister Volker Bouffier has announced that, due to the coronavirus, the upper limit for social gatherings will be reduced from 100 people to five people. In addition, the state government announced the closure of restaurants and pubs from midday on Saturday. They had previously been allowed to stay open until 18:00 in Hesse.


14:28 Federal Foreign Office: Close to 100,000 German citizens return due to coronavirus

According to the Federal Foreign Office, 96,000 people returned to Germany from all over the world this week, either with airlines, through tour operators, or with charter machines. The number of Germans living abroad amounts to several hundred thousand, but not all of them want to return. A total of 144,000 people with a "potential wish to return" have registered in the returnee lists since the start of the recovery campaign. Currently, the priority is on returns from Argentina, Egypt, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, and Tunisia.


14:27 Restrictions in Bremen

Bremen is following the example of other federal states and prohibiting the consumption of food in restaurants from Saturday due to coronavirus. This was announced by Senator of the Interior, Ulrich Mäurer. It does not mean that businesses will have to close. "It just won’t be possible to eat there anymore." Previously, this had been possible until 6 p.m. The restaurants can continue selling and dispensing food.


14:01 Morocco and Tunisia order stricter rules

Morocco will impose a curfew tonight, as announced by the country's Ministry of the Interior. So far, some 60 coronavirus infections have been reported in Morocco. Tunisia wants to suspend all flights at midnight. According to authorities, flights for so-called returnees will also be affected. German holidaymakers will need to be brought back to Germany during the day.


13:49 McDonald's to fill staff demands at Aldi

As part of a joint effort, employees of the McDonald's fast-food chain will help out at the Aldi supermarket chain. They will be hired temporarily.


13:46 Saudi Arabia stops public transport

From tomorrow onwards, no more buses, taxis, trains, and ferries will be operating in Saudi Arabia. As reported by the official SPA news agency, all domestic flights will also be suspended. According to the information, exceptions apply to the transport of goods and the travel of security personnel.


13:37 State aid for Finnair

The Finnish government has issued guarantees of EUR 600 million to the Finnish airline. The state itself holds 55.8 percent of the airline. Finnair had to reduce its operations by 90 percent due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus. Norway had already assured its airlines of aid yesterday. They are to be supported by an amount of EUR 480 million.


13:33 First death in Berlin

In Berlin, the first patient infected with the new coronavirus has died, as reported by the Senate Health Administration. It was a 95-year-old man with severe previous illnesses.


13:31 Saarland also wants to impose a curfew

After Bavaria, Saarland also wants to close restaurants and impose a curfew. This will be proposed today by Prime Minister Tobias Hans to the Cabinet for a decision, the State Chancellery in Saarbrücken informed.


13:23 Already 96,000 Germans brought home from abroad

According to information from the Federal Foreign Office, 96,000 so-called returnees have been brought to Germany with the help of Lufthansa and tour operators. Approximately 100 flights have been chartered for this purpose. Since Tuesday, around 144,000 Germans have reported to the Federal Foreign Office that they are staying abroad due to travel restrictions and flight bans.


12:36 Bayern imposes general curfew

The Prime Minister of Bavaria, Söder, has imposed a general curfew for the federal state effective after midnight on Friday. He has announced in Munich that the curfew is initially scheduled for two weeks. Too many people are still outdoors in groups, which is unacceptable.


12:28 Number of coronavirus-related deaths in Spain rises to more than 1000

According to the Ministry of Health, the number of people who have died from the coronavirus in Spain climbed from 767 to 1002 within a single day.


12:11 SPD Berlin cancels state party convention

The SPD in Berlin is postponing its state party convention, which was originally scheduled for May 16th. A new date will not be scheduled for the time being," said Anett Seltz, Head of State Affairs.  The Berlin Social Democrats are set to elect a new leader. Michael Müller, who is still the governing leader and mayor of the city state, had announced his decision not to run again in January. Instead, Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Franziska Giffey and the group leader of the Berlin SPD, Raed Saleh, want to run together. With the convention canceled, it is now clear that Müller will keep his position as the State Chief for longer than planned.


12:09 IMF expects new Italian indebtedness

The International Monetary Fund expects that the coronavirus crisis will result in an Italian recession and an increase in new indebtedness.

The institute predicts a 0.6 percent decrease in the Italian gross domestic product this year. In 2019, there was a 0.3 percent increase.

According to the IMF, the economy is expected to recover in 2021 and 2022, with annual growth of 0.8 percent in both years.


11:59 Dortmund tightens curfew on gatherings

Norbert Dahmen, Head of the Public Order Department, has announced that, from tomorrow onwards, assemblies of more than four people will be prohibited in Dortmund.

Violations of the prohibition are to be penalized.

Exceptions apply to "domestic communities", such as families.


11:56 Almost 20,000 infections in Spain

According to the Spanish health authority, nearly 20,000 people in the country have been infected with the coronavirus. Yesterday, there were about 17,150 cases.


11:54 Radio stations express thanks by playing "You"ll never walk alone"

Radio stations in several EU countries played the song "You'll never walk alone" this morning at 08.45 a.m. The idea came from Sander Hoogendoorn, who hosts a show at Dutch broadcaster 3FM.  The song goes out to everyone "who is doing incredible work in health care. And to those who are sick or cannot leave their house for a while," Hoogendoorn said.  In Germany, the following broadcaster participated, among others: WDR 2, WDR 4, 1Live, SWR3, RBB Radio Eins, hr3, YOU FM, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Bayern 2, Antenne Niedersachsen, and BB Radio.  Radio stations in Great Britain, Austria, Spain, Bulgaria, Belgium, Slovakia, and Romania also took part.


11:48 Experts: The 2020 climate target will be reached due to the corona crisis

As a result of the corona pandemic, Germany will surely reach its climate target for 2020, according to the think tank Agora Energiewende.
A significant reduction in emissions from transport and industry is expected, said the Managing Director of Agora, Patrick Graichen. Depending on the extent of the crisis, this could not only result in a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gases (compared to the 1990 figures), but even in a reduction of 45 percent.
At the same time, Graichen warned that a reduction in investments in climate-friendly technologies might be expected and that the coronavirus might actually do harm to the climate in the longer term.


11:39 Federal states disagree on curfews

Does Germany strive to impose a general curfew, as is already in effect in Italy or France? Or do the federal states individually decide on measures? There is much debate on the matter.


11:36 No wage increases in the metal industry

IG Metall and the employers have agreed on a compromise to settle the tariff dispute in the metal and electrical industries. In light of the corona crisis, wages in the industry are set to not increase this year. Employees with young children receive additional free days and short-term workers can rely on extra payments.


11:20 Austria extends curfew

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced that public curfews will be extended by three weeks, to remain in force until Easter Monday, April 13th.

Massive restrictions have been in force in Austria since Sunday, prohibiting assemblies of more than five people, for example. Residents should only leave their house to go shopping, to get to work, or to help others, if possible.


11:12 Italy stops cruise ships

Italian tour operators are halting cruise operations, initially until April 3rd. This was reported by the country's Ministry of Transport on its website. In addition, ports for foreign cruise ships have closed throughout the country.

All passengers who are still on cruise ships would have to disembark immediately. Italian nationals are to be allowed to return home and would have to stay in quarantine for two weeks after their arrival. Tour operators should organise the return to all other nationals to their respective countries.


11:06 The Vapiano chain files for insolvency

The Vapiano chain of restaurants is insolvent. "Due to the drastic decline in turnover and revenue, Vapiano SE has become insolvent today," the company states. The chain had been going through rough times even before the Corona crisis.


11:03 Czech Republic tightens regulations for cross-border commuters

The Czech Republic has tightened requirements placed on commuters: entry and exit are still allowed, but commuters will have to carry an identification booklet for cross-border workers. The identification booklet can be downloaded online.


09:26 VW donates breathing masks

The carmaker Volkswagen announced that it will soon provide nearly 200,000 respiratory masks. The donation will be made in consultation with Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, the company from Wolfsburg informs. The city of Wolfsburg will also be supported with medical material.


09:24 New breathing machines for British clinics

In the UK, several companies have developed a prototype for a new breathing machine that is now undergoing quality testing, said British health minister Matt Hancock to the BBC. He hopes that the machines could be delivered by the end of next week and called on the plants to produce as many of the machines as they can. "No number is too high," said Hancock. If there were too many devices, in the end, that would not be a problem, as other countries also needed.


09:20 Leverkusen tightens restrictions

In the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Leverkusen, assemblies of two or more people in the public are now prohibited, unless they live together "in a permanent domestic community, which applies, for example, to families." Furthermore, the city prohibits the consumption of food and beverages in restaurants, beer gardens, canteens, bakeries, butchers, snacks, and ice cream parlors.


09:04 A4 traffic-free for the first time in days

In recent days there had been massive congestion due to border controls at the German-Polish border. There had been up to 60 kilometers tailback on the A4. However, after Poland eased border controls, the congestion on the A4 completely dissolved, said police officials in Görlitz.


08:30 The summary of the last night

The city of Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg and California imposed curfews. Every second person in Germany is concerned about the coronavirus pandemic. Wuhan reports no new infections.