German New Coronavirus Cases Hold Below 2,000; 154 Deaths

(Bloomberg) --

The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany held below 2,000 for a second day as government officials warned against a premature easing of restrictions in Europe’s biggest economy. New fatalities were at the second-lowest level in six days.

Deaths rose by 154 to 5,877 in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, a slight pick up from Saturday’s daily increase of 148, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There were 1,968 new cases, bringing the total to 156,513, the fourth-highest in Europe.

As confinement measures are taking their toll on the economy, almost a fifth of German companies are worried about insolvency spurred by the coronavirus fallout. Family run businesses are increasingly frustrated with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s step-by-step response to the pandemic, according to a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Still, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder warned on Saturday against high expectations that the chancellor and leaders from Germany’s 16 states might take more decisive steps at a meeting next week.

“It’s good to exchange views as often as possible, but I wouldn’t expect too much this time,” Soeder said in an interview with Focus magazine. “It would make sense if we did an update next Thursday, but not rush into additional rash actions.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has meanwhile dampened expectations of an early re-opening of European travel destinations. “A European race to see who will allow tourist travel first will lead to unacceptable risks,” Maas said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, recalling infections in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl. “We have already experienced what an infection cluster in a popular holiday resort can do in the home countries of tourists. This must not be repeated.”

A wave of bankruptcies may hit the tourism industry, according to the DRV association of travel companies. About 60% of travel agencies and tour operators see themselves threatened by insolvency and one in five was forced to lay off employees, Bild am Sonntag reported, citing a DRV survey among its members. Some 80% of the companies have applied for state aid.

“If we don’t receive specific support from the federal government soon, the travel industry as we know it -- dominated by small- and medium-sized enterprises, with many small tour operators and travel agencies -- will very soon no longer exist,” Norbert Fiebig, the lobby’s president, told the newspaper.

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