Thousands in Berlin protest against coronavirus restrictions

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Thousands of Germans took to the street in the capital Berlin on Saturday to protest against the country's coronavirus restrictions. — Courtesy photo
Thousands of Germans took to the street in the capital Berlin on Saturday to protest against the country's coronavirus restrictions. — Courtesy photo

BERLIN — Thousands of Germans took to the street in the capital Berlin on Saturday to protest against the country's coronavirus restrictions.

Demonstrators said measures including the wearing of facemasks violated their rights and freedoms.

Protesters who came from across the country held placards with slogans like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “We are the second wave.”

They chanted, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom!”

Police broke up the protest, saying organizers had not respected coronavirus hygiene regulations.

Police estimated that about 17,000 people turned out. The demonstrators were kept apart from counterprotesters, some chanting “Nazis out!”

Protests against anti-virus restrictions in Germany have long drawn a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists and right-wing populists.

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn criticized people for failing to adhere to regulations, including the 1.5m (5ft) social distancing requirement.

"Yes, demonstrations should be allowed even amid the pandemic. But not like this," he wrote on Twitter.

Social distancing rules and hygiene requirements apply throughout the country, and people must wear face-coverings in shops and on public transport. Mandatory testing has been introduced for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas.

Germany has had more than 210,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 related deaths since the pandemic began.

Unlike the United States, Brazil and Britain, Germany’s government has been praised worldwide for its management of the pandemic. The country’s death toll — just over 9,150 people out of more than 210,670 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday — is five times less than Britain’s, which has a smaller population.

The German government has been easing lockdown measures since late April but social distancing rules remain in place, as does a requirement to wear masks on public transit and in shops. — Agencies


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