Thousands march in Berlin for and against Covid-19 restrictions

Thousands of people marched through Berlin today protesting against Covid-19 restrictions – while a counter-protest saw crowds come out in support of the government’s rules.

olice tussled with protesters as thousands marched through Berlin on Saturday chanting slogans and waving banners against Covid-19 restrictions.

Some demonstrators tried to get past barricades to the government district around the Reichstag parliament building and clashed with officers, police said.

Four officers were injured, the Berliner Zeitung reported.

About 50 people were detained, some for assaulting officers, the force said.

The protesters, few of whom wore masks, waved banners marked with the messages “I have my own opinion” and “Covid-84” in a reference to George Orwell’s book 1984 about a totalitarian state.

Police had banned nine demonstrations planned for today, including one form the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, the most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany.

A court ruled in favour of allowing one protest, planned for 500 people, on Saturday and Sunday.

More than 2,000 police officers were stationed around the city to respond to those who showed up despite the bans.

Meanwhile, a counter-protest called the ‘Love Train’, complete with techno music, drew a large crowd of its own. Those demonstrators support government restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The protests come amid debates in Germany about how and whether to impose restrictions for unvaccinated people, a question taking on more urgency as coronavirus case numbers rise.

Similar protests took place in Berlin in early August, which ended in clashes with police and hundreds of people detained.

Today’s marches come a month before a federal election. The leading candidates vying to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel have pledged there will be no return to the strict lockdowns of last year and earlier this year.

The country has reported more than 3.9 million coronavirus cases and is facing a fourth wave of infections. It reported 10,303 new cases and 22 fatalities on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 92,096.

To nudge more people to get vaccinated, the government has said it will stop offering free tests from October 11, except for those for whom vaccination is not recommended, such as children and pregnant women.

The government will require people to be vaccinated, test negative or have a recovery certificate to enter indoor restaurants, participate in religious ceremonies or do indoor sport.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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