Thousands of people demonstrate in Berlin against coronavirus measures


Thousands of people have protested in Berlin against coronavirus restrictions despite an increase in cases.Protesters, many of whom were not wearing masks, marched from the Brandenburg Gate on Saturday before a rally on a wide boulevard that runs through the city’s Tiergarten park.

The event was titled “The End of the Pandemic: Freedom Day”.

Protesters held up signs promoting conspiracy theories such as “Corona, false alarm”, and there were chants of “we are here and we are loud, because we are deprived of our freedom”.

The signs also read “we are obliged to wear a muzzle” and “natural defense instead of vaccination”.

Police estimated that around 17,000 people have moved. The protesters were separated from the counter-protesters, some of whom chanted “Nazis out!”

Protesters continued to a subsequent rally on a boulevard crossing the city’s Tiergarten park, which police said drew 20,000 people. Police declared the event over as organizers failed to convince protesters to wear masks or keep their distance.

Protests against anti-virus restrictions in Germany drew a variety of participants, including conspiracy theorists and right-wing populists.

Germany has so far fared better than some of its European neighbors during the outbreak, with 210,000 confirmed cases and around 9,100 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.

The country has eased lockdown measures since the end of April, but social distancing rules remain in place, as does the requirement to wear masks on public transport and in stores.

Infection numbers have soared in recent weeks, and officials have warned of complacency.

Earlier this week, Lothar Wieler, president of the German Robert Koch Institute for Health Surveillance, expressed concern over the increase in cases.

“The latest developments in the COVID-19 cases are a source of great concern to me and to all of us at RKI,” he said.

Several politicians condemned the protest like Germany.

Saskia Esken of the Social Democrats, a junior coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government, called the protesters “Covidiots”.

In a tweet, Esken said, “No distancing, no mask. They not only endanger our health but also our success against the pandemic as well as economic recovery, education and society. Irresponsible! ”

But Home Secretary Horst Seehofer, who comes from Merkel’s traditional right-wing ally, the Christian Social Union, was more understanding.

“Of course, there are always different opinions regarding violations of fundamental rights and restrictions on freedom – first of all, this is normal and, in my opinion, it is not the majority,” Seehofer told the Bavarian daily Passauer Neue Presse.


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