The East Germany state of Thuringia has said its citizens can make their own choices with regards to the lockdown becoming the first place in Europe to end any formal rules. This does not follow Chancellor Angela Merkel’s advice of not moving too fast as the states compete to get their economies back going. Chancellor Merkel has made it clear the country is still “fragile” and “not out of the woods” with regards to COVID-19. Thuringia will lift its ban on mass gatherings, the compulsory wearing of facemarks in shops and a requirement for people to stay 1.5 metres apart.
The restrictions will be officially lifted on June 6.
Germany has been less affected by COVID-19 than many other European countries and began lifting its lockdown on April 20.
The rate of infection has been declining in the country, with only 431 new infections over the past 24 hours this weekend. Thuringia’s state leader Bodo Ramelow has said: “Our motto will be: recommendations instead of bans, and self-regulation instead of state compulsion.
“We made our decision in March based on estimates of 60,000 infections, we are now down to 245 [in Thuringia].
“This success shows that restrictions were correct, but it also means we have to now make realistic decisions – meaning lifting the lockdown.”
Sweden has also urged people to take on their own personal responsibility, but they have banned gatherings of over 50 people.
Chancellor Merkel has said that while the first phase of the virus is over, the country still has a long fight ahead of them.
She also said that if infection rates were to spread to more than 50 cases per 100,000 people in one area, a new lockdown would be enforced.
The Germany leader has made it clear she puts her faith in the people of the country to stick to the rules.
She said: “Our republic is built on trust and if we don’t have trust, we might as well call it quits.”
The chancellor has warned that COVID-19 presents the EU with its biggest challenge yet.
She has said: “Germany is only doing well if Europe is going well.
“Everyone is equally affected so it must be in everyone’s interest … that Europe should emerge strongly from this test.”
There are concerns if lockdowns are lifted too quickly, there could be a second wave of the coronavirus in Europe this autumn.