Despite the rising number of coronavirus cases in Germany, thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday rallying against social distancing rules imposed to curb the pandemic.
Demonstrators marched from the landmark Brandenburg Gate through central Berlin before holding a rally on a wide boulevard, according to a media report.
Police then broke up the rally, saying the organizers were unable to ensure that safety and health regulations were being observed.
Most of the protesters did not wear masks and disregarded social distancing rules.
Some yelled at people who wore masks, telling them to remove it.
There were placards reading “Stop corona insanity”, while some protesters wore T-shirts with “Corona=fake news” printed on the front.
The protest, declared as “Day of Freedom”, was supported by some neo-Nazi groups and conspiracy theorists, along with Germans who say they are fed up with the government’s restrictions to curb the pandemic.
In May, tens of thousand of people had gathered in numerous German cities to protest against restrictive measures to fight COVID-19.
Germany enforced a strict lockdown in mid-March and started to ease it from the end of April.
Taking to Twitter, Health Minister Jens Spahn criticized the people attending the protest for failing to follow health regulations, while underlining their right to protest.
She wrote, “Yes, demonstrations should be allowed even amid the pandemic. But not like this”.
“Social distancing, health and safety rules and wearing face masks serve to protect everyone”, she further tweeted.
Earlier, in several cities such as Frankfurt and Hamburg, however, hundreds of counter-demonstrators had also gathered, protesting against conspiracy theories.
The city had allowed a maximum of 1,000 people, under the condition of observing the minimum distance of 1.5 meters and a time limit of two hours, according to the German Press Agency (DPA).
A total of 955 new infections have been confirmed in the last 24 hours in Germany, the highest in months, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), according to the German government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention.
As of Sunday, the overall number of cases in Germany increased to 211,005, with 9,154 deaths.
(With inputs from agency)