Thousands gathered in Berlin on Saturday to protest coronavirus restrictions as authorities raise concerns about a rise in new infections.
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The demonstration, called “The end of the pandemic – freedom day,” drew people from various parts of Germany after weeks of planning. Police used bullhorns to ask participants to adhere to safety precautions, including social distancing and wearing masks.
“We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom,” the crowd chanted. The protesters held up signs with phrases such as “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “Corona, false alarm.”
Previous protests have drawn attendees of all sorts, notably including right-wing populists and conspiracy theorists.
The recent protest was largely devoid of the standard safety measures that the government has enforced, with many refusing to wear masks or keep their distance.
Overall, Germany’s approach to handling the pandemic has been viewed as largely successful. The country has had a relatively lower death rate compared to other nations, with just over 9,000 deaths out of around 210,000 infections.
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But the nation has seen an increase in infections in recent weeks, registering 955 cases on Friday. The government has made testing free for people re-entering the country, concerned that trips abroad might be fueling a resurgence of the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.