Germany has begun exiting lockdown but health officials warned that the situation remains tense amid a rise in infections.
The coronavirus "situation remains tense" in Germany amid a rise in infections, health minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference on Friday.
There were 12,834 new COVID-19 cases in the past day and another 252 deaths in Germany, according to the country's disease control institute. The seven day incidence rate had also risen in the country although it remains one of the lowest in Europe.
Spahn emphasised that there are still "several very challenging weeks ahead" as the country balances the health crisis with its cautious reopening and a much longed-for return to normality.
Lothar Wieler, the head of the country's public health institute, said Germany is “at the beginning of the third wave” of infections following surges in cases last spring and in the fall.
In the past few weeks, Germany has begun easing its strict virus lockdown with schools reopening and some shops being allowed to reopen. Most retail shops will not be allowed to reopen until the end of the month, however.
In areas with lower infection rates, the German government's guidelines say that two households may meet up but that groups should remain at no more than five people.
If the incidence rate is lower than 35 new cases per 100,000 people, three households are able to meet up, according to the guidelines.
Germany's overall incidence rate is 72.4 new cases per 100,000 people, officials said.
Spahn said, meanwhile, that the much-criticised COVID vaccination campaign was gaining momentum and that the country had administered more than 200,000 first doses daily in the past week.
He said that over 7 per cent of the population had received a coronavirus vaccine and that there was a resulting drop in serious illnesses and deaths.