Small western German state becomes first to exit nationwide lockdown

The small western German state of Saarland became the first of Germany’s 16 states to exit a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, with its leader arguing that a comparatively low infection rate and extensive testing justified the move.

From Tuesday, outdoor restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms and some other public places were allowed to reopen for people who can show a negative result on a rapid antigen test no more than 24 hours old.

Groups of 10 people with negative test results will able to congregate outdoors.

“After a year in the pandemic, we have to think of more than just closing and restricting,” Saarland’s Premier Tobias Hans said, adding that “no coronavirus infection will go undetected.”

In a nationwide comparison, Saarland’s infection rate is low. Its seven-day incidence of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants has remained consistently below 100. On Sunday, the metric stood at 88.2.

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