Protesters hold demonstrations against Covid-19 restrictions across Berlin

Cheryl Sanders
August 2, 2020

A handful of counter-demonstrators also gathered, many under the banner "Grandmas against the right", and shouted "Nazis out" at those taking part. They tweeted that they drew up a criminal complaint against the rally's organizer for failing to enforce hygiene rules, then said shortly afterward that the organizer had ended the march.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the death toll from the coronavirus infection in Germany now stands at 9,134, while the total number of confirmed cases has been reported at 207,828.

Around 15,000 protesters took part in the event, dubbed 'The end of the pandemic - freedom day', according to German media, citing a police estimate.

Most people in Germany have respected measures that include wearing face masks in shops, while the government has just imposed mandatory tests for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas. Overall, though, the country has experienced a lower number of cases - especially regarding the death rate - than some other European countries.

Others chanted "we are the second wave". Berlin authorities stated on Twitter that the majority of the protesters were not sticking to social distancing guidelines or using masks.

The rally, which was organised by several groups, including Stuttgart-based "Querdenken 711", comes amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

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

Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken, criticised the protest for putting everyone's lives at danger and called the protestors "covidiots". "But not like this", Spahn tweeted, adding that social distancing, health and safety rules and wearing face masks serve to protect everyone.

"No distancing, no mask".

"They are not only jeopardizing our health, they are jeopardizing our success against the pandemic and for the revival of the economy, education and society".

Jan Redmann, regional head of Merkel's Christian Democrats in the eastern state of Brandenburg, also took aim at the marchers.

"A thousand new infections a day still and in Berlin there are protests against anti-virus measures? We can no longer allow ourselves these risky absurdities", Redmann complained.

Few protesters wore a mask or respected the 1.5-metre (five-foot) social distancing requirement, an AFP journalist reported, despite police repeatedly calling on them via megaphone to do so. "That's why many Germans are wondering what exactly are these protesters protesting against when the rules have been relaxed for so long".

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