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Merkel orders drastic measures to counter coronavirus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered drastic measures to help the country fight the spread of coronavirus.

All non-essential retail shops have been ordered to close down. Ms Merkel announced that all bars, clubs, theaters, zoos, public swimming pools, playgrounds and brothels will be closed down while restaurants will close from 6 p.m until 6 a.m.

Grocery stores, petrol stations, banks and pharmacies will remain open.

All domestic and foreign vacation travel have also been suspended for now.

Ms Merkel announced the shutdown hours after Germany imposed controls on its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg.

“We are dealing with something unique here,” Ms Merkel said. “The more every individual sticks to these restrictions, the faster we can get through this phase.”

Coronavirus has so far killed 13 people in Germany and infected roughly 6,700 people.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also appealed to people in Germany to “stay at home”. “We have to work together to ensure the virus spreads as slowly as possible,” said Mr Steinmeier in a statement, after the government announced it would close all non-essential shops, ban religious assemblies, as well as close bars and restaurants. “So wherever possible: stay at home! Avoid close contact… and have understanding for all restrictive measures.”