Planned demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions scheduled for the weekend in Berlin were canceled after city authorities said on Wednesday that the gatherings would likely break social-distancing rules. Far-right extremist groups and the AfD, the far-right parliamentary party, had advertised the demonstrations.
“I am not prepared to accept that Berlin is misused as a stage for Corona deniers, Reich citizens and right-wing extremists for a second time,” said Andreas Geisel, the city official responsible for public safety, referring to a group of extremists that doesn’t accept the legitimacy of the modern German state. Several thousand protesters marched at a similar demonstration in Berlin on Aug. 1.
The city’s move has been criticized by those who think a ban could energize those who already think the state is overreaching on restrictions related the virus and could ultimately lead to more dangerous illegal demonstrations.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with state governors on Thursday to discuss new virus rules as the number of cases has grown over the last month. The officials are expected to agree on stricter quarantine rules for people entering the country from “high risk” areas. The government also plans to discontinue free tests for travelers arriving from states not considered high risk for the virus.
Last week the country’s health authority found that nearly 40 percent of new cases came from abroad. On Wednesday, 1,507 new infections were registered. Last Friday, the country registered more than 2,000 infections in a single day, a figure last seen at the end of April. Germany has had at least 237,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 9,285 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Chelsea Brasted, Alexander Burns, Reid J. Epstein, Choe Sang-Hun, Jonathan Martin, Jesse McKinley, Heather Murphy, Campbell Robertson, Rick Rojas, Dana Rubinstein,Christopher F. Schuetze, Jenna Smialek, Eileen Sullivan and Carl Zimmer.