German ministers are expected to give the green light for large shops to reopen and for football matches to resume within the next few weeks, sources have said.
Smaller shops are already back to business in Europe’s largest economy as long as they respect social distancing rules to slow the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus.
German states are also set to allow the Bundesliga football league to resume matches, probably from May 15, under strict conditions without fans in stadiums, the sources said.
At the same time, state leaders will allow outdoor sports for non-professionals and children, the sources added, they will also agree to reopen schools for all grades step-by-step, though most children will only be allowed to go to class in rotating shifts, not on a daily basis, the sources said.
Officials are also aware that “something needs to be done” to gradually reopen day nurseries and kindergartens for as many toddlers as possible to help working parents, one source said.
Germany took a further step on the long road back to post-coronavirus normality on Monday, with museums and hairdressers reopening under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers, and more car factories resuming work.
But more than a month after Germany suspended all but essential social and commercial life to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, politicians are at odds over how far and how fast to move.
There is mounting pressure from business groups and some regional governments who are anxious to move faster on restarting economic life. Merkel has warned that reopening too swiftly risks triggering a second wave of infections.
Germany has been more successful than other large European countries in slowing the virus’ spread – it estimates that every 100 carriers of the virus now infects only 74 others on average, well below the 100 mark where new restrictions must be imposed.