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Coronavirus: Germany Protests Against Restrictions

Thousands of protesters have gathered in the German capital Berlin to demonstrate against the country’s coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters said measures including the wearing of facemasks violated their rights and freedoms.

Police broke up the protest, saying organizers had not respected coronavirus hygiene regulations.

Germany has been less badly affected by the pandemic than some European countries, but cases are rising.

On July 31, Germany recorded more than 900 new cases and seven deaths.

According to officials, about 20,000 people attended the Berlin protest on August 1.

Organizers had declared August 1 a “day of freedom” from months of coronavirus restrictions.

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Demonstrators held up banners featuring such slogans as “Corona, false alarm” and “We are being forced to wear a muzzle”.

Some participants were from the far right and some were conspiracy theorists who do not believe Covid-19 exists, but others were ordinary people who simply object to the government’s approach to the pandemic.

Police ordered demonstrators to disperse at the end of the afternoon. They said they had launched legal action against organizers for not respecting coronavirus hygiene rules.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn criticized people for failing to adhere to regulations, including the 1.5m (5ft) social distancing requirement.

“Yes, demonstrations should be allowed even amid the pandemic. But not like this,” he wrote on Twitter.

Social distancing rules and hygiene requirements apply throughout Germany, and people must wear face-coverings in shops and on public transport. Mandatory testing has been introduced for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas.

Germany has had more than 210,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 related deaths since the pandemic began.