Germans to wear masks in shops as pandemic’s economic toll mounts

A nurse awaits his next patient at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California

European countries are working to find a balance in how far to ease coronavirus lockdowns, with Germany enforcing mandatory masks in all shops from Wednesday, as the crushing global economic cost of the pandemic becomes clearer.

Excitement over moves towards normality is being tempered by fear of fresh outbreaks of a disease that has already killed 214,000 people worldwide.Gradual exit from coronavirus lockdown

Even a gradual return to everyday activity is “risky”, warned French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, as he unveiled plans to gradually end the lockdown starting next month.

From Wednesday in Germany, masks will be needed to enter shops, which began to open last week after the government declared its outbreak under control.

Nose and mouth coverings are already compulsory on buses, trains and trams.Lebanese demonstrators walk through the streets of the capital Beirut as anger over a spiralling economic crisis re-energised a months-old anti-government movement

“We all need to take care that we don’t end up with more infections,” said Lothar Wieler, president of Berlin’s Robert Koch Institute.

Forecasts warn of the worst global recession in a century, with demand for goods gutted, and travel and tourism hammered.

British Airways became the latest airline to sound the alarm, saying it may have to cut its workforce by a third, while big banks are reporting deep falls in quarterly profit.

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