Germany to take 'small steps' to loosen lockdown

Germany to take 'small steps' to loosen coronavirus lockdown

Hairdresser Barbara Hoppe prepares her shop for the reopening next week, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Bonn. Reuters

Germany's health minister has warned against significantly relaxing restrictions imposed to curb coronavirus infections, saying this could “recklessly” endanger the country's achievements in fighting the pandemic.

In an op-ed Thursday for daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jens Spahn welcomed the public debate over loosening the lockdown. But he said that “especially because Germany has so far come through this crisis better than others it would be reckless to endanger this hard-won joint achievement.”

Germany has recorded almost 162,000 cases of COVID-19 and 6,467 deaths so far, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That is about a quarter the number of deaths recorded in Britain and France, which have a similar number of confirmed cases.

Spahn said the government wanted to take “small steps, rather than risk a big step back.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding talks with the governors of Germany's 16 states Thursday to discuss the impact that existing measures have had on slowing the spread of the virus.

Germany recently allowed stores to reopen and some students to return to school, but officials dampened expectations than any major loosening of the lockdown.