Coronavirus: Thousands protest in Germany against restrictions

Thousands of people in the German capital Berlin are taking part in a protest against the country’s coronavirus restrictions.

The demonstrators say the measures, including the wearing of facemasks, violate their rights and freedoms.

Germany has been less badly affected by the pandemic than some European countries, but cases are starting to rise again.

On Friday it recorded more than 900 new cases and seven deaths.

Official estimates say at least 15,000 people are taking part in the protests, which is being called “The Day of Freedom”.

Protesters held up banners featuring such slogans as “Corona, false alarm”, “We are being forced to wear a muzzle”.

The BBC’s Damian McGuinness in Berlin says some are from the far right and some are conspiracy theorists who do not believe Covid-19 exists, but others are ordinary people who simply object to the government’s approach to the pandemic.

The mood is peaceful but hardly anyone is wearing a face-covering or observing the required social distancing, our correspondent says.

“Our demand is to go back to democracy. Away with these laws that have been imposed on us, away with the masks that make us slaves,” said one woman.

Restrictions in Germany include the wearing of face-coverings in shops and on public transport, social distancing rules and hygiene requirements apply throughout the country. Mandatory testing has been introduced for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas.

Germany has had more than 210,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 related deaths since the pandemic began.

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