Germany hopes for opening-up by late May

Customers wait for the opening of a branch of the German discounter 'Aldi' in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, March 6, 2021. From Saturday the discounter offers new coronavirus, COVID-19, quick tests for sale.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says he is “very skeptical” about prospects of people traveling at Easter but expects the situation will have changed by late May.

Merkel and Germany’s state governors this week agreed to extend lockdown measures until March 28, while laying down a roadmap for relaxing some rules in areas with relatively low infections. But many issues have yet to be addressed.

Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told the Funke newspaper group in an interview published Saturday that he is “very skeptical as far as travel at Easter is concerned.” Easter falls on the first weekend in April this year.

But he said he expects “that we can talk in a significantly more relaxed way about travel and leisure from Whitsun,” on May 23.

Braun said that Germany could return to full normality in the summer — if vaccine manufacturers keep to their delivery pledges and no new coronavirus mutation arises “that raises questions over the whole success of vaccination.”

Germany so far has given 5.7% of its population a first dose of vaccine and 2.8% two doses. A fall in new coronavirus cases has stalled as a more contagious variant first detected in Britain spreads.

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