Reuters spoke to two participants of a video conference between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of the nation’s 16 states on Wednesday (April 15).
The plan covers shops up to 800 square meters (8,611 square feet), the news service wrote. For reference, U.S. retailers who would meet that criteria include Foot Locker, Tiffany & Co., Men’s Wearhouse and Five Below.
The chancellor said the exceptions will be car dealerships and bookstores, much larger retailers, who would also be allowed to open.
Merkel said schools would start to reopen on May 4 at first for students in their last year of high school or primary school.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), released a 16-page report Wednesday which provided guidelines on how to return to normal as the pandemic retreats.
The panel recommended to the EU’s 27-member governments to coordinate their moves. Any economic activity should be phased in to ensure authorities and businesses can adjust to increasing activities safely, they wrote.
The commission emphasized jobs with little interpersonal contact and teleworkers be among the first to return to work.
“But not all the population should go back to the workplace at the same time, with an initial focus on less endangered groups and sectors that are essential to facilitate economic activity,” the report said. “... As social distancing should remain largely in place, teleworking should continue to be encouraged. At the workplace, occupational health and safety rules imposed by the pandemic should be observed.”
Among its recommendations, the commission said a carefully crafted, coordinated and gradual approach is needed.
“The Commission has been and will be providing EU level tools as well as guidelines, both for the public health and the economic response. It will be important that Member States support and use the instruments available at the EU level,” the report said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, said it expected to remain in recession at least to midyear.
In related news, Austria, one of the first European nations to relax a coronavirus lockdown, has let thousands of stores that are a maximum of 4,300 square feet open again. Larger stores, hairdressers and shopping centers are scheduled to follow beginning May 1.