Germany: anti-restriction demonstrations despite the risk of third wave

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BERLIN | Several protests against the anti-COVID restrictions brought together thousands of people in several cities in Germany on Saturday, despite the risk of a third wave reported by health authorities.

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In Munich, the police announced that they had dispersed a demonstration involving several thousand people near the seat of the Bavarian parliament.

Some 2,000 people, according to police, also demonstrated in Düsseldorf (west), where a parade of around 100 motor homes passed through the city in protest against anti-COVID measures.

In Dresden (Saxony), hundreds of people, including far-right and anti-vaccine activists, demonstrated, according to local police, not far from the state-region parliament.

The demonstration was however banned by the local authorities, a decision confirmed Friday evening by the administrative court.

Most of the demonstrators did not wear masks and did not respect distances, lamented the police in Dresden, a city in the former GDR where the anti-mask movement is particularly active.

The police tried Saturday, at the end of the afternoon, to disperse the procession. Slight clashes pitted participants against the police, according to the police.

Water cannons were placed near a vaccination center in the city center.

“Do all those who participate in this prohibited demonstration realize the crimes committed? The coronavirus will not be stopped like that, on the contrary! ” blasted Martin Dulig, Social Democratic deputy head of the regional government.

Gatherings were announced during the weekend in other cities in Germany, such as Kiel, Hanover or Magdeburg.

These protests come as German health authorities warn of a third infectious wave linked to the spread of the British variant.

“The extrapolation of trends shows that we should expect higher numbers of cases the first week of April than those of Christmas,” warned the Robert Koch institute, responsible for epidemiological monitoring, on Saturday. The seven-day incidence rate could then reach 350, against 76.1 on Saturday.

The head of the Robert Koch institute, Lothar Wieler, estimated Thursday that “the third wave (had) already started in Germany”.

The restrictions remain severe in Germany, however, with the closure for months of bars, restaurants, cultural and sporting places or even stores deemed non-essential.

Angela Merkel and the leaders of the 16 regional states are due to take stock and negotiate possible new measures on March 22.