Germany: Police stop Berlin protests against coronavirus brakes | News | DW

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As German officials warn of the surge in the number of infections, large crowds gathered in Berlin on Saturday to protest against coronavirus restrictions, including the requirement for a face mask. “The virus of freedom has reached Berlin,” said one of the organizers, Michael Ballweg.

Others chanted: “We are the second wave” as they passed through the German capital.

Police estimated that around 17,000 people passed through Berlin and 20,000 in total attended the climax of the event.

They said they couldn’t confirm the “sky-high number” of attendees launched on Twitter, in a likely reference to organizers claiming 1.3 million people attended the rally.

‘Our freedom is stolen’

DW’s Benjamin Alvarez reported the arrival of trucks carrying anti-mask slogans with drummers on board.

Some protesters carried a banner calling for the arrest of US billionaire Bill Gates, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Health Minister Jens Spahn and others.

Spahn commented on the event, saying that “Yes, protests must be possible in the era of the crown as well, but not like that. ”

“The distance, the rules of hygiene and the daily masks serve to protect us all,” he wrote on Twitter.

Lawmaker Saskia Esken, one of the two leaders of the center-left SPD party, called the participants “covidots”.

“Thousands of covidiots are celebrating in Berlin as the ‘second wave’ without distancing, without masks,” she said. “They not only jeopardize our health, they also jeopardize our achievements against the pandemic and the revival of the economy, education and society. ”

Protest interrupted

Hours after the protest began, however, plans to continue along a wide boulevard through the park were put on hold after a police complaint.

Berlin police said they had taken legal action against the organizer for “non-compliance with hygiene rules”.

The initial rally had only registered 1000 participants.

In the late afternoon, police used loudspeakers to order protesters to leave the area peacefully.

The officers also removed several organizers from the scene, to the screams and hoots of those attending the rally.

When the participants failed to move forward, the police told them they were committing crimes, which led to further yelling and booing. Some of the participants had to be taken away by the police after refusing to leave the scene.

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Competing events

DW’s Leonie von Hammerstein noted that a retest had taken place, with many citizens angry with those who wanted to break the rules.

“The difference is that the counter-testers wear masks, keep the [correct] social distance. While the other protesters are not, they shouted “the pandemic never happened”.

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She then described being verbally abused by some protesters, including a man who yelled in her face.

“He believed in conspiracy theories. He believed Bill Gates was behind the coronavirus and wanted to forcefully vaccinate everyone and the German government is helping him do that, ”said von Hammerstein.

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Be tough on rule breakers

The protests came on the same day that German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he wanted tougher action against COVID-19 rule breakers.

“Anyone who deliberately endangers others should expect this to have serious consequences for them,” Altmaier said.

The number of infections in Germany has recently increased, with 955 new cases recorded on Saturday and 870 on Friday.

This outbreak has been attributed to the public becoming negligent about hygiene rules and social distancing, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the German government agency for disease control and prevention.

js, dj / mm (AFP, dpa)



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