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Germany's Lower House Passes Massive Coronavirus Economic Aid Package

Due to the new coronavirus outbreak, German lawmakers keep distance during a session of the lower house of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, March 25, 2020.

Germany's lower house of Parliament - the Bundestag - approved an $814 billion aid package Wednesday to cushion the economy from the direct impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In order to fund the emergency measures, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is planning to take on more than $168 billion in new debt for the first time since 2013.

The package was presented by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz while Merkel is at home after a doctor who treated her tested positive for the coronavirus.

As a precaution, members of Parliament were spaced widely apart during the debate in Berlin's Reichstag building for the session.

Among other measures, the plan provides funding for the suffering tourism and service industries, support for small businesses, and unemployment benefits for freelance work and contract workers.

The measures passed easily in the lower house and now will move on to the upper house of Parliament, where a vote into law is expected Friday.