Berlin: Thousands of people have marched in Germany’s capital to protest against measures imposed to stem the coronavirus pandemic, saying those restrictions violated people’s rights and freedoms.
The crowds rallying in central Berlin on Saturday comprised an array of groups including opponents of vaccinations and conspiracy theorists, among others. There was also a small far right presence with some marchers carrying Germany’s black, white and red imperial flag.
Organisers initially hoped half a million protesters would join the demonstration but police estimated about 17,000 had gathered. A handful of counter-demonstrators also gathered, many under the banner “Grandmas against the right”, and shouted “Nazis out” at those taking part.
Police ended the main demonstration after determining that organisers were not able to ensure health and safety regulations were being followed. They also said they launched legal action against the organisers over “non-respect of hygiene rules”.
The demonstration came as German officials fear a second wave of the pandemic, which has so far killed 9,154 people in the country amid 210,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The relatively low death rate – nearly one-fourth of the United Kingdom, which has a smaller population – has been seen as a result of Germany’s early imposition of strict measures.