23rd November 2020
Thousands take to the streets of Berlin due to new coronavirus restrictions (Source: Bloomberg)
Thousands of activists took to the boulevards in Berlin, saying that the new COVID-19 measures sully the commons' rights and independence. These protests are a consequence of the representatives voting on a bill that would emphasise the government's capability to endorse all COVID-19 restrictions. The bill would authorise the government to impose restrictions on all communal contact, rules on mask-wearing, alcohol consumption in public, shutting down shops and discontinuing sports events. Germany has reported over 8.4 lakh COVID-19 cases thus far.
The crowd, around 17,000 in number, consisted of libertarians, constitutional advocates and anti-vaccination protestors. There was also trivial far-right presence in the form of some protestors who were carrying Germany's black, white and red imperial flag.Protestors were seen dancing and chanting "We are free people!" to the tune of the rock band Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. Others paraded with posters that said "We are making a noise because you are stealing our freedom!", "The mask that enslaves us must go" and "Do think! Don't wear a mask!". "Our demand is to return to democracy," said one protestor who refused to give his name.
Just like the mass protests against the COVID-19 restrictions in August, the marchers took to the steps of the Reichstag parliament building.
German Police released water cannon and pepper spray in an attempt to scatter thousands of fuming protestors. The Police detained approximately 190 people and nine officers were injured.
Protesters near Berlin's momentous Brandenburg Gate flung bottles at Police and set off fume bombs, according to bystanders. Riot police detained some protesters while firing volleys of water and urging crowds by loudspeaker to adjourn. Protesters, whistling and thumping saucepans, were neither keeping the obligatory social distance nor wearing face masks. Some displayed banners with slogans written such as "Stop the corona pandemic lie" and "No to forced vaccinations."
Health Minister Jens Spahn addressed the parliament and said that no one would be compelled to be vaccinated and described the pandemic as a 'Once in a Century Phenomenon'.
Europe's prime economy kept contamination and death tolls lower than those of many of its neighbours during the first stage of the crisis, but is now in the throes of a second upsurge in Europe. After Germany's initial success in curbing the pandemic, infections are rising again. More than 200,000 people have been tested positive for COVID-19, and nearly a 1,000 have lost their lives to it. Most people in Germany have adhered to measures that comprise wearing face masks in shops, while the government has just levied mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk areas.
(Sources: NPR, National Herald, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC)
Edited by: Suditi Jha