Thousands of people in Berlin have taken to the streets to protest against measures imposed across Germany to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
According to police around 20,000 people marched around the German capital on Saturday, August 1, with demonstrators saying measures such as having to wear a face mask violated their rights and freedom.
In reality, the order was brought in in an attempt to save lives, with public health experts saying the evidence is clear that masks help prevent the spread of the virus – yet those marching seemed to disregard all of that and stood in close proximity, without masks.
Organisers, who expected half a millon to turn out, dubbed the protest a ‘day of freedom’ after months of restrictions, with the motto of the demonstration being: ‘The end of the pandemic.’
Of course, the pandemic isn’t over in the slightest and while Germany has been less badly affected than some other European countries – such as the UK – cases are currently rising in the country. On Friday alone Germany recorded more than 900 new cases and seven deaths – the UK saw a further 120 deaths.
Yet still, protesters held up banners featuring slogans such as, ‘Corona, false alarm’ and ‘We are being forced to wear a muzzle’. One woman held a sign which read: ‘End of the corona dictatorship.’
Although there was a small far-right presence at the march, the majority were conspiracy theorists who don’t believe COVID-19 exists and other people who simply do not like the way the government has handled the pandemic.
‘Our demand is to go back to democracy,’ one woman attending the demonstration told . ‘Away with these laws that have been imposed on us, away with the masks that make us slaves.’
Hardly anyone wore a face covering at the protest or observed the required social distancing, with police later breaking up the protest because they said organisers had not respected the necessary hygiene regulations.
After ordering protesters to disperse at the end of the afternoon, police said they launched legal action against the organisers for not respecting the social distancing rules and hygiene requirements that apply throughout the country.
Across Germany, much like in other European countries, people must wear face coverings in shops and on public transport – an extremely small price to pay in order to protect others and help stop the spread of a life-threatening virus, most would agree.
Health Minister Jens Spahn later criticised those who attended the protest for failing to adhere to regulations, including the 1.5 metre social distancing requirement. ‘Yes, demonstrations should be allowed even amid the pandemic,’ he tweeted. ‘But not like this.’
Since the pandemic began, Germany has had more than 210,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 related deaths.