Germany will extend social distancing measures introduced last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus to April 19 and the government will re-evaluate the situation after the Easter holiday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.
Germany has closed schools, shops, restaurants, playgrounds and sports facilities and many companies have stopped production to help tackle the disease but the numbers of new coronavirus cases and deaths are still rising.
“We are seeing some small effect (from the measures) but we are far from where we need to be,” Merkel told reporters after a conference call with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states.
Merkel said she did not want to lift social distancing measures too early only to have to reintroduce them.
“We know a pandemic does not take account of the holidays,” she said, asking people not to travel during the Easter break.
Europe’s biggest economy may shrink as much as 5.4% this year, the government’s economic advisers have warned and despite a more than 750 billion euro ($819 billion) stimulus package to cushion the blow, firms are keen to return to work as soon as it is safe.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 67,366 in Germany and 732 people have died, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said on Wednesday.
Experts want to reduce the time it takes to double the rate of infection to 10-14 days from around six days to ensure the health system can cope.