Speaking to reporters after talks with Germany’s 16 state governors on Wednesday, she underscored that “we are moving forward in small steps and must see what effect they have”.
Merkel warned that although new COVID-19 infections in Germany have shown signs of slowing down in recent weeks, the country has thus far achieved only “a fragile intermediate success” and doesn't have “much room for manoeuvre”.
She explained that next week’s reopening pertains to non-essential shops, as well auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops, regardless of their size.
Schools, closed since mid-March, will begin to reopen as of 4 May. This will also be the case with beauty salons, according to Merkel.
She added that the stricter restrictions will remain in force, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public and an order to keep at a 1.5-metre (five-foot) distance from others, which were introduced in late March.
Merkel’s announcement came after Denmark started to reopen primary schools and nurseries earlier on Wednesday, becoming the first in coronavirus-hit Europe to relax restrictions on education.
While the government touted the move as something that will let parents focus on their jobs and help keep the economy afloat, some parents reportedly lashed out at the decision, saying they don’t want their children to be used as “lab rats”.