Home World News International news In Berlin, thousands protest against covid-19 restrictions

In Berlin, thousands protest against covid-19 restrictions

Despite infections by the new coronavirus rising again in Germany, raising fears of a second wave of the disease in the country, thousands of people gathered in Berlin this Saturday (1st) to protest against the restrictions imposed by the government.

The crowd was made up of a combination of far-right groups, people opposed to vaccination, advocates of conspiracy theories and others unhappy with measures to stem the spread of the virus.

“We are the second wave,” some protesters shouted, while others preached “resistance” and called the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”. Some carried signs with words like “corona: false alarm”; “we are forced to use gags”; “natural defenses instead of vaccines” and others that called for the reinstitution of fundamental rights.

According to the police, around 15 thousand people participated in the so-called “Freedom Day”, a number well below the 500 thousand announced by the organizers. Few masks were seen among the groups that walked from the Brandenburg gate to the Tiergarten park.

The 1.5-meter spacing, established by federal government rules, was largely disrespected, despite police insisting through megaphones for people to obey the rule. Through Twitter, the Berlin police said they opened legal proceedings against the protest organizers, due to “disobedience to hygiene rules”.

According to DW news reporter Leonie von Hammerstein, many of the participants came from other regions of the country, including the south, where the restriction measures had a strong impact on the tourism sector.

She said she was harassed by protesters, with attacks and verbal abuse, including from a man who shouted next to her face, claiming that billionaire Bill Gates was behind the coronavirus and the German government would help him get people forced into receive the vaccine.

The name “Freedom Day”, chosen as a protest slogan, refers to a 1935 documentary by producer Leni Riefenstahl that showed a conference by the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP), by Adolf Hitler.

Germany accounts for just over 9,000 deaths from covid-19, a number much lower than that of several other European countries. Although the data is relatively low, the authorities are concerned about the increase of infections in the country registered in the last weeks, after the relaxation of the containment measures.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the country should take more stringent measures against people who violate the rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus. “Anyone who deliberately puts others at risk must have serious consequences for themselves,” he said.

The largest number of cases is attributed to the negligence of part of the population in relation to hygiene measures and social distance, according to the evaluation of researchers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control and prevention. This Saturday, the country registered 955 new cases – a level that has not been registered since May 9.

The president of RKI, Lothar Wieler, warned this week that the country had been keeping the number of new cases stable, with a daily average of 300 to 500. However, in the last days, this trend has not been maintained. In his opinion, many people become more negligent and fail to adhere to the recommendations of hygiene and social distance and to wear masks.

He said that control of the situation would only be possible if everyone did their part, and called on German citizens not to put aside care, despite the summer holidays. Like Germany, several European countries that already seemed to have the epidemic under control have had an increasing number of cases in the past few days, leading to the reintroduction of some restrictive measures.

Fearing outbreaks in the country on the return from vacation, the German government announced on Monday that it intends to make it mandatory to test the new coronavirus for travelers returning to the country from territories considered to be at risk, such as Brazil or the United States.

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