Berlin braces for 'anti-corona' demonstration

A man with a beak mask holds a camera at a rally against the corona measures on Thursday Aug. 27 2020. The rally with the motto

Berlin police demand end to anti-virus protest

A Berlin court on Friday overturned a ban against a planned demo of coronavirus sceptics, with police planning to turn out in force to ensure protesters comply with virus safety regulations.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday, demanding an end to the government measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that they argue violate their constitutional rights.

Activists, angered by Berlin's decision to ban demonstrations after marchers at a recent rally failed to wear masks or keep their distance, flooded the city with thousands of applications for additional protest rallies this weekend. The spokeswoman said that the police are not allowing the protest to start because many demonstrators are not wearing face masks.

A spokesperson for the administrative court in the capital said the demonstration could go ahead as long as they adhered to certain conditions, for example by maintaining social distancing.

Protesters in Berlin posted footage of the march on social media, tweeting that they "are the masses" and were "sending a warning to Angela Merkel".

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US President Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro were among global leaders who initially played down the gravity of the pandemic while others have dismissed the need for social distancing measures.

But several groups are counter-protesting the main demonstration.

A total of 18,000 protesters took part in the anti-government protests, according to police sources. New case numbers are reaching highs last seen in April.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 federal states on Thursday introduced tougher coronavirus restrictions to curb the pandemic, including a minimum 50 euro (59 USA dollars) fine for people caught not wearing face masks where it is compulsory to do so.

Slowik estimated that up to 30,000 people could attend the coronavirus demonstration, but said it was hard to gauge the number.

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Far-right extremists tried to storm the German parliament building Saturday following a protest against the country's pandemic restrictions, but were intercepted by police and forcibly removed.

Although Germany has so far not seen the wave of cases affecting some parts of Europe, its infection rate has been growing.

Until now Germany has actually handled the coronavirus crisis much better than much of its European equivalents, with strenuous screening assisting to hold down infections and deaths.

Protesters had gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin ahead of Saturday's march with signs reading "Stop the corona lies" and "Merkel must go".

Meanwhile, German chancellor Merkel said that the virus will be "more challenging" in the coming winter and autumn months.

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