Merkel and other top officials arrive to brief the press. Photo: Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images

Germany will begin a "gradual" and "very careful" loosening of its coronavirus lockdown next week, though social distancing rules will remain in place through at least May 3, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.

Where things stand: After previously rebuffing calls for a plan to reopen the economy, Merkel laid out a general roadmap as much of Europe remains locked down.

  • Smaller shops will be able to open next week, once they've established “plans to maintain hygiene." Car dealers and bookstores of any size can reopen Monday, but beauty salons will have to wait until May 4.
  • Schools will “very slowly” begin to reopen on May 4, with students who have exams taking priority and new precautions being taken, including for school buses.
  • Restaurants and bars will remain closed for the time being. Religious services and other large events won’t return until Aug. 31.

Why it matters: Germany has one of the world’s largest confirmed caseloads but far fewer deaths than countries like the U.K. and France. A widespread testing program and Merkel’s decisive leadership have been praised for containing the threat and potentially easing the road to recovery.

  • Merkel is far from declaring victory. She said Germany had seen only "fragile intermediate success,” and she urged Germans to remain vigilant.

Go deeper

Biden raises $141 million more than Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a September campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees raised $466 million cash on hand, the presidential candidate's team announced late Sunday.

Why it matters: President Trump's campaign raised $325 million, his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh announced Friday. In the spring, Biden was $187 million behind Trump and the Republican National Committee.

Virtual Emmys address chaotic year for American TV and society

Emmy Host Jimmy Kimmel during rehearsals Friday for the 72nd Annual Emmy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Photo: Al Seib/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Emmy Awards Sunday night addressed the major U.S. issues this year — including the protests on systemic racism and police brutality, the wildfires engulfing parts of the West Coast, the census, the pandemic, essential works and the election.

Why it matters: Award shows have always addressed wider cultural issues, but this year — amid unprecedented stress and uncertainty — that trend has accelerated.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 30,919,638 — Total deaths: 959,332— Total recoveries: 21,152,996Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30p.m. ET: 6,799,141 — Total deaths: 199,474 — Total recoveries: 2,590,671 — Total tests: 95,108,559Map.
  3. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right" Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure.
  4. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning.
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19 — 7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  6. World: England sets £10,000 fine for breaking self-isolation rules — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.