Merkel cautiously optimistic as she announces lockdown rollback

German Chancellor Merkel warned that while the coronavirus' "first phase is over…we still have a long fight ahead of us." Social distancing measures remain in place until June 5, but parts of the economy will reopen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her much-anticipated press conference on Wednesday by thanking the country for observing social distancing rules to help drastically slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We have achieved the goal of slowing the spread of the virus…because our citizens have behaved responsibly and saved the lives of others."

Merkel welcomed the news that across Germany, hospitals were never overwhelmed, that the virus reproduction rate was now steady at less than one, and that daily new infections were under 1,000 cases. She said these factors made a loosening of lockdown restrictions possible.

However, she warned that "the very first phase of the pandemic is over, but we are still at the overall beginning of the pandemic, and we still have a long fight against the virus ahead of us."

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