200527 Germany
Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Hutter and players in the stands wearing protective face mask, as German football play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. Image Credit: Reuters

Berlin: Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to June 29, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday.

Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible, according to the rules agreed between the federal government and 16 states.

Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely.

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Germany’s virus caseload now tops 179,000 with just over 8,300 deaths - much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.

“This success is mainly based on the fact that the rules on distance and hygiene have been implemented and respected,” the government and the regions said.

However, officials warned that further restrictions could be imposed if local outbreaks made them necessary.