Even as Wieler called for infection control measures to be upheld, debate has begun about when everyday life can begin inching back towards normality.

Eyes have turned to neighbouring Austria, where Chancellor Sebastian Kurz allowed many smaller businesses to reopen from Tuesday — but with conditions such as wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance from others.

Germany’s Leopoldina national science academy published on Monday a paper outlining the first lockdown exit steps that could be implemented, including a gradual reopening of schools, obligatory mask-wearing in public transport and increased data gathering.

Recommendations from the 26-strong group of scientists will inform Merkel’s Wednesday conference.