German police on Wednesday, November 18, dispersed a large crowd of people protesting against COVID-19 restrictions in Berlin's government district by using water cannons and pepper spray.
As per reports, the people gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin ignored calls to wear masks and maintain social distance from one another in line with pandemic regulations put in place by the administration. The police are reported to have arrested more than 100 people and temporarily detained many protestors while nine police officers were injured during the protest.
As per reports, the protest crowd reduced significantly by late afternoon as many demonstrators marched back to the city's main train station, chanting and blowing whistles. Some demonstrators also threw flares, fireworks, and other objects in response as police helicopters flew overhead. However, the police avoided shooting the cannons directly at protestors as there were children in the crowd. Reports add that the officers worked slowly and methodically to disperse the crowd, Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cabiltz said.
The protests came in the backdrop of a bill passed by both the lower and upper houses of the German parliament and was fast-tracked to the country’s president, who signed it on Wednesday.
As per reports, the bill provides the legal underpinning for the government to issue social distancing rules, require masks in public, and to close stores and other venues to slow the spread of the virus. Most people in Germany are supporting the virus-prevention measures while a vocal minority is staging regular rallies around the country, claiming that the restrictions are unconstitutional.
Overall, Germany has reported about 833,000 coronavirus cases and more than 13,000 virus-related deaths in the pandemic, a death toll one-fourth the size of Britain’s.
Furthermore, the German authorities took a rare step on Tuesday to ban a series of protests directly outside the parliament building due to security concerns. As per reports, fences were put up around a wide area that included the Bundestag, nearby parliamentary offices, the federal chancellery, and the presidential residence and offices.
Meanwhile, the Berlin police have further informed that they gave out multiple warnings at Wednesday's demonstration for violating mask-wearing regulations. The police department warned that officers had received an order to detain people not following the regulations.
(With inputs from agency) (Image-AP)