Germany is extending its coronavirus lockdown until March 28 but easing some restrictions to allow non-essential stores and other businesses to reopen in areas with relatively low infection rates.
After about nine hours of talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of the country’s 16 states agreed on Wednesday to measures aimed at balancing concern over the impact of more contagious coronavirus variants with a growing clamour for a return to a more normal life.
The first moves have already been made, as many younger pupils returned to school last week.
And on Monday, hairdressers opened after a two-and-a-half month break.
On Wednesday, Mrs Merkel and the state governors – who in highly decentralised Germany have the power to impose and lift restrictions – set out a phased plan that allows for some further relaxation of restrictions.
Regions where infection rates are relatively low – though not as low as previously envisioned – will be able to open non-essential stores, museums and other facilities on a limited basis.