School children were taught social distancing as they stood 5 feet apart at a playground in Germany today.
The images showed pupils lining up under the watchful eye of a teacher at the Petri primary school in Dortmund, as they returned to the classroom after weeks of lockdown.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has allowed the oldest primary school children to return today and younger children will follow next week.
The country is now planning to lift a range of measures after leader Angela Merkel gave the green light yesterday.
Merkel had announced steps to ease the lockdown and launched an “emergency brake” mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again.
“We can afford to take a little courage, but we need to stay cautious,” she added.
The reproduction rate has been falling for several days and is now well below 1 – meaning a person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average.
Germany has reported more than 166,000 infections and more than 7,000 deaths peers thanks to its early testing and distancing measures.
Salons can also re-open but new regulations include no waiting area, magazines or dry cuts, while face masks to be worn by customers and staff.
The new rules – which also include social distancing of 1.5m and gloves to be worn until hair is washed – have been issued by German ministries for economy and for social affairs and backed by the regulatory body BGW.
Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, said: “We are not living after the pandemic now – rather we are living in the middle of a pandemic, one that will be with us for a while – at least for this year and that’s being very optimistic”.
The government said the Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga could re-start in the second half of May without spectators, adding that the German soccer league (DFL) would decide on the exact dates.
It followed a teleconference with officials from the 16 states to discuss easing the country’s lockdown measures.
“Today’s decision is good news for the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga,” said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert.
“It comes with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organisational requirements in a disciplined manner.”
He added that “games without stadium spectators are not an ideal solution for anyone.”
“However, in a crisis that threatens the existence of some clubs, it is the only way to ensure the continued existence of the leagues in their current form.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has announced that his statement on the route out from lockdown will begin on 7pm on Sunday.
The Mirror understands a draft 50-page plan has been drawn up to get the country back to normal.
The Government’s blueprint aims to to relax the lockdown in staggered steps between now and October.
From Monday it is also likely employees will be encouraged to return to workplaces that have stayed open through- out the lockdown if safe.
While garden centres could reopen while there may be more guidance on the use of outdoor spaces including open-air markets, high streets and cemeteries.
The PM will chair a Cabinet meeting which is likely to focus on what freedoms can be restored weeks after after the “draconian” measures were put in place on society to halt the spread of the virus.
Lockdown exercise could have been banned altogether last month due to coronavirus rebels breaking the rules, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had warned.