Videos shared online show protesters and police violently clashing after demonstrators defied court orders to oppose German lockdown measures. Heavily armoured police were seen dragging protesters across roads and into police vans with members of the “Querdenker” movement shouting for freedom and the lifting of restrictions – such as group numbers, mandatory mask-wearing and travel bans. Germany joins France who have also seen a rise in anti-lockdown protests with the neighbouring country seeing coronavirus protests occur for the third weekend in a row as French citizens campaign against vaccine passports.
Tens of thousands of protesters were denied by law to gather in Berlin this weekend but many chose to ignore the ban and head to the German capital anyway.
Over 2,000 police were reported to be deployed across the city with video showing officers attempting to grab some protesters and arrest them.
Around 13 demonstrations were planned to go ahead in Berlin but the German courts made it illegal for them to do so.
They fear the gathering would turn into a superspreader event and was concerned about the Querdenker movement’s involvement.
Event pages shared online suggested many of those attending would not wear masks or maintain social distancing with the German Government forced to react.
The Querdenker movement is made up of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists who have been protesting lockdown measures since they were introduced last year.
The movement made headlines in April when thousands of protesters were arrested after attending events hosted by the group.
The German Government also revealed a number of prominent members of the Querdenker movement were under watchlist.
Around 22,000 protesters were expected to attend the Sunday protest in Berlin, according to social media numbers.
Several arrests were made during the protest but the total number is not yet known.
Germany has lifted a large portion of their coronavirus restrictions with many non-essential shops and services now operational.
However, private gatherings of up to ten people are still prohibited and FFP-2 masks are required in some buildings and public transport.
Travellers from the UK can also only travel to Germany if they are fully vaccinated after Chancellor Angela Merkel climbed down from enforcing a Europe-wide ban on UK travellers – regardless of vaccination status.
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The protests mirror what is happening in neighbouring France as many citizens have been campaigning against President Emmanuel Macron’s new coronavirus rules.
Mr Macron announced vaccine passports, mandatory vaccines and the end of free PCR tests would be introduced to tackle the slump in vaccine uptake.
The move has appeared to work with over two million people booking vaccine appointments in the days after the announcement – even breaking the French health websites in the process.
But while most of the variants in France are classed as the Beta variant, Germany’s main COVID-19 variant is the Delta variant, much like the UK.
It was announced in July France would be put on the “amber-plus” travel list where any travellers from France would be required to isolate regardless of vaccination status.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said there was concern over the Beta variant spreading in the UK but reports suggest the UK Government will review France’s status this week.