Berlin – Demonstrations by opponents from Germanyincreased on Wednesday with police using water cannons to disperse protests and making at least 200 arrests, according to Berlin police.
When lawmakers in the German parliament vote to amend the country’s Infection Protection Act, which lays out restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus., thousands of people protested in the capital, accusing the government of using laws to restrict basic rights and establishing a “corona dictatorship.”
Although Germany has not yet imposed a national lockdown, all state and local governments have imposed restrictions on travel and leisure activities and closed non-essential businesses. Schools and nurseries remain open. Masks are required in all public places across the country, also according to state law.
Amendments to the national law passed by lawmakers on Wednesday are meant to clarify which protective measures state governments can order.
To avoid disrupting the parliamentary session, the Federal Interior Ministry has ordered extensive vigil around the Bundestag, or parliament.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people gathered in Berlin’s government district, according to police estimates, to protest the move.
Police said most of the protesters refused to comply with social distancing rules or wear masks as needed, despite repeated requests, so officials asked organizers to end the demonstration.
Berlin police said officers were attacked with bottles, firecrackers, rocks and pepper spray, prompting the decision to bring in water cannons to disperse the protests.
Up to 2,200 police officers were deployed, including officers brought in from nine other German states and the federal police.
Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German police union, said he expected a police deployment to take “hours” to disperse assemblies dotted around central Berlin, including one in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate where he said “protesters are in an aggressive mood. .. “
Coronavirus skeptics have been spreading conspiracy theories about the virus and a looming vaccine for months, organizing protests such as Wednesdays via social media. At one demonstration earlier this year, hundreds of protesters broke through the barrier and reached the entrance to parliament before being rejected.
A few weeks ago demonstrations in Leipzig and Frankfurt turned violent, with clashes between protesters and police and about a dozen arrests.
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