German coronavirus: “anti-corona” demonstration in Berlin attracts thousands of people

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Reuters

Legend
Police said they had ‘no choice’ but to disperse the protest


Thousands of people marched through the German capital Berlin to protest the coronavirus restrictions.

Police imposed compulsory mask wear and social distancing – and at noon, ordered protesters to disperse for flouting the order.

The rally was generally peaceful, but at least one person was arrested.

City officials had tried to prevent the march from continuing, fearing security measures would be ignored, but a court overturned the ban.

About 18,000 people took part in Saturday’s march, police said.

Although Germany has so far not seen the wave of cases affecting parts of Europe, its infection rate has increased. The number of new cases is reaching highs last seen in April.

What’s going on now?

Police gave the order to disperse after participants refused to keep their distance from each other, authorities said.

“Unfortunately, we have no other option,” Berlin police said on Twitter. “All the measures taken so far have not led to compliance with the conditions. ”

Protesters were crowded in places and sat together on the ground at one point.

Police said the protesters were dispersing peacefully although there were pockets of unrest.

Live footage shows dozens of people still circling around central Berlin neighborhoods, holding flags.

Who is participating in the walk?

Many protesters said the reason they marched was because fundamental freedoms were threatened by coronavirus restrictions such as social distancing and compulsory mask wear.

Image copyright
EPA

Legend

Protesters held flags of Germany, Russia, Netherlands, German Empire and Bavaria


There were reports of some right-wing groups marching and a Nazi flag was seen flying, reports German newspaper BZ.

A protester, Stefan, a 43-year-old Berliner, told Agence France-Presse: “I am not a far-right sympathizer, I am here to defend our fundamental freedoms”.

Another protester told ARD television that the number of “seriously ill” was “on the decline,” adding: “At the same time, we have more tests. And we have measures that are totally disproportionate. This madness must be stopped and allow a normal life again. ”

Counter-demonstrations against the main march also took place, with around 100 people at a rally. “You are walking with the Nazis and the fascists,” some participants shouted, according to broadcaster RBB.

A similar ‘anti-corona’ march in early August drew roughly the same number of people and was also halted after protesters deliberately flouted safety regulations.

What are Germany’s Covid-19 measures?

The country has been one of the most effective countries in enforcing the response framework called prevent, detect, contain and treat.

It has been particularly effective in keeping the death rate in those over 70 lower.

He started loosening physical distancing in early April, but continued to track infections, which increased in August.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 federal states on Thursday introduced a minimum fine of € 50 (£ 45; $ 59) for not wearing a face mask on demand. The ban on major public events has also been extended until next year.

Ms Merkel said: “We will have to live with this virus for a long time. It is still serious. She said it would become more difficult in the winter.

Germany has recorded 242,000 infections, fewer than other major European nations. Its figure of 9,297 deaths is considerably lower than that of Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Italy, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

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