Mass German protests at virus restrictions
Several thousand people banging saucepans and blowing whistles gathered in central Berlin on Wednesday to protest against Angela Merkel’s plans to give her government powers to enforce restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Germany’s lower and upper houses of parliament were due to pass laws later which could allow the government to impose restrictions on social contact, rules on mask-wearing, drinking alcohol in public, shutting shops and stopping sports events.
Although most Germans accept the latest “lockdown light” to tackle a second wave of the coronavirus, critics say the law gives the government too much power and endangers citizens’ civil rights.
The far-right Alternative for Germany has even compared it with the Enabling Act of 1933 which paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship.
One protester wore a facemask with the words “Merkel-Muzzle.” Others held banners with slogans such as “For Enlightenment. Peace and Freedom.”
Protesters were neither wearing masks nor socially distanced. Police officers in riot helmets lined up to stop demonstrators getting too close to the parliament building. They are desperate to avoid a repeat of an incident in August.
During mass marches against curbs, protesters stormed the steps of the Reichstag parliament building, some of them waving the far-right Reichsflagge flag.
Germany was widely praised for keeping infection and death rates in the first phase of the pandemic but is now in the midst of a second wave, like much of the rest of Europe.