German authorities condemn “reckless” protests against Covid restrictions
Berlin, Aug 3 (efe-epa).- Germany’s government on Monday criticized a large demonstration that took place in Berlin over the weekend to protest against coronavirus restrictions.
The rally had to be broken up by police as participants were not following hygiene protocol and were ignoring social distancing measures in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.
In a press conference, Ulrike Demmer, the government spokeswoman, said peaceful protest was a democtratic right but added that the scenes from the Berlin demonstration on Saturday were “unacceptable.”
The rally attracted a patchwork of different ideologies, including followers of far-right and neo-Nazi politics, conspiracy theorists groups like QAnon, pro-bussiness campaigners and some from the far-left.
An estimated 20,000 people protested in different areas of the capital before congregating in the same area. At least 45 police officers were injured in scuffles, authorities said.
The government spokeswoman said the behaviour of “many protesters” could not be justified and breached the “precious asset that constitutes the freedom to protest.”
She also criticized the “degrading comments” that were heard during the demonstration as well as reports of attacks on journalists.
She added that the protests “were in no way justified” and accused the demonstrators of abusing the privilege of freedom of assembly.
In a video address to the nation, Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the protests, urging people to avoid the kind of “reckless behaviour” that could undo the relative success Germany has made in tackling the disease.
“The irresponsibility of a few is a risk for all of us,” he said. “The path to normality, which we all wish for, is not about carelessness, recklessness and ignorance.”
The condemnations of the protest come amid a general spike in cases nationwide, most of which were imported by German holidaymakers returning from abroad.
The surge in cases has coincided with the reopening of schools in the northeastern state of Meckelenburg-Vorpommen, the country’s least densely populated.
Cases in the largely rural state have stayed significantly lower than the rest of the country, with only 877 confirmed infections and 20 deaths. In total, Germany has reported over 210,000 cases, with 9,148 deaths.
Social distancing and hygiene measures have been implemented, but there has been no definitive guidelines on the use of face masks.
In other federal states, such as Berlin where classes are due to begin again on August 10, rules on wearing masks in common areas in schools like the playground and corridors are in place, but not for inside the classrooms.
The minister for Education, Anja Karliczek, at the weekend called for the obligatory use of masks nationwide, although implementing such rules remain at the discretion of each individual state. EFE