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Germany closes public spaces, bans religious gatherings in virus clampdown

People queue in front of the gold trading store Degussa in Berlin, Germany, on March 16, 2020.
People queue in front of the gold trading store Degussa in Berlin, Germany, on March 16, 2020. © Annegret Hilse, REUTERS

The German government on Monday banned gatherings in churches, mosques and synagogues, and ordered non-essential shops as well as playgrounds shut, as it battled to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The sweeping restrictions aimed at "limiting social contact in public places" will leave most sites from museums to swimming pools to gyms shuttered. 

But supermarkets, banks and post offices will stay open, as will pharmacies and petrol stations.

Hairdressers, construction supply stores and laundromats will also keep operating, said the government, saying that the move was to ensure that "service providers and craftsmen can continue to carry out their trade".

Restaurants and cafes can stay open, but only until 6pm daily.

Hotels will only be used for "essential and explicitly not for tourist purposes", the government added.

 

Authorities had last week ordered schools shut, and regional trains have been curtailed in a bid to reduce travel.

Germany also from Monday re-introduced checks on its borders with Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark, turning back motorists without an essential reason to enter Germany.

With most of Europe now in lockdown, and stock markets in a tailspin, Berlin on Friday promised companies "unlimited" credit to keep them afloat. 

The economic package is worth at least 550 billion euros ($614 billion) initially -- the biggest in Germany's post-war history.

(AFP)

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