A regional court in Germany has permitted mass demonstrations planned in Berlin on Saturday in order to protest against the COVID-19 restrictions in the city, thereby, ruling against the ban on such protests in the country's capital.
The court ruling said, "The gatherings planned by several initiatives for August 29 against the corona policy of the federal and state governments can take place." 3,000 police officers have been deployed to manage crowds expected to amount to 20,000.
Second Chance to Prove Compliance: Interior Minister
The police have also prepared for possible violence as activists opposed to the virus measures urge social media followers across Europe to arm themselves and gather in Berlin. Activists, angered by Berlin's decision to ban protests after demonstrators at a recent rally failed to wear masks or keep their distance, flooded the city with thousands of applications for additional protest rallies this weekend.
Responding to the ruling, Berlin's interior minister, Andreas Geisel, said the court had given protesters a second chance to show they can comply with social distancing measures. "I appeal to everyone to gather in Berlin without violence," he said. Querdenken 711, one of the movements behind the protests, urged demonstrators in a YouTube video to "be peaceful and exercise no violence toward the police".
Accelerating Number of New Cases
Until now Germany has managed the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European counterparts, with rigorous testing helping to hold down infections and deaths. But new daily infections have accelerated in recent weeks, as in much of the world.
On Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to keep up their guard against the virus. "This is a serious matter, as serious as it's ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously," she said. Protesters gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin ahead of Saturday's march with signs reading "Stop the corona lies" and "Merkel must go".
(With inputs from agencies)