Angela Merkel has laid out a plan for Germany exiting the lockdown as the rate of daily coronavirus infections in the country continues to drop.
The German chancellor announced a loosening of the measures after meeting with the country’s 16 state governors.
She said restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
Bundesliga football can resume this month and schools will begin to reopen in the summer term.
Pressure to relax the rules had been growing as a nationwide lockdown achieved the country’s goal in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The reproduction rate of the novel coronavirus in Germany is currently estimated at 0.65, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.
Known as the R number, the rate is one of the key factors in deciding on whether restrictions can be eased.
A rate of 0.65 means that 100 people who contracted the disease infect around 65 others, meaning the number of new infections will decrease.
Under the new rules, any region that reports 50 new cases for every 100,000 inhabitants will have to go back into lockdown.
And if the country experiences a surge of new infections, the government will operate an “emergency brake”.
Two households will be able to meet and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be allowed visits from one specific person.
Ms Merkel said: “I think we can safely state that the very first phase of the pandemic is behind us.
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