After more than two months of lockdown, the German federal government has allowed certain stores and retailers in Germany to reopen on Monday.

Bookstores, flower stores and garden centres are categorized as “daily needs retail” and could therefore reopen to a limited number of customers and with strict hygiene rules, Xinhua news agency reported.

Only one customer per ten square meters is allowed for shops up to 800 square meters of retail space. Larger shops could welcome one additional customer for every additional 20 square meters of retail space.

The German government and the federal states agreed on this second reopening step after schools and hairdressers in the country were already allowed to reopen at the beginning of March. However, regulations could vary locally as details are left to the federal states to decide.

“We are at the threshold of a new phase of the pandemic that we can go into not carelessly but still with justified hope,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said when announcing the plan for easing the Covid-19 measures last week.

The restrictions on private meetings have also been relaxed. A household can now meet with another household up to five people in total. Further relaxations for retailers, museums and zoos would depend on the level of infection in each federal state, according to the government.

On Monday, the number of new Covid-19 infections in Germany remained slightly above the previous week’s level as 5,011 infections were registered in one day, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The number of deaths related to Covid-19 fell to the lowest level — 34 — since early November last year, bringing the total death toll in Germany to 71,934, the RKI said.

More than two months after the start of the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Germany, almost 2.5 million people had been fully vaccinated as of Monday, bringing the country’s vaccination rate to three per cent, according to the RKI.

–IANS

int/pgh