© Reuters. Protest against government restrictions on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin
BERLIN (Reuters) – German police released water cannons and pepper spray on Wednesday to disperse thousands of protesters angry at Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans to establish a legal framework for enforcing coronavirus restrictions.
Protesters near Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate threw bottles at the police and set off smoke bombs, witnesses reported. Riot police held some demonstrators while firing volleys of water and loudspeaker calling for the crowd to disperse.
The police arrested 190 people and nine officers were injured.
Protesters, including some far-right radicals, opposed laws passed by the House of Commons to enshrine legal powers to take steps such as restricting social contact, rules on wearing masks, drinking alcohol in public, and closing down To impose business.
The aim of the change, to go to the House of Lords later on Wednesday, is to prevent legal challenges to the measures, which so far have largely been enforceable at the state or local level.
Although most Germans are accepting the latest "lockdown light" to fight a second wave of the coronavirus, critics say the change puts citizens' civil rights at risk.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has compared the change with the Enabling Act of 1933, which paved the way for Hitler's Nazi dictatorship.
Protesters whistling and hammering whistles did not maintain the required social distance, nor did they wear face masks. Some held banners with slogans such as "stop the corona pandemic lie" and "no to forced vaccinations".
Health Minister Jens Spahn told parliament that no one would be forced to get vaccinated, describing the pandemic as a "once in a century phenomenon".
During the mass marches against coronavirus curbs in August, demonstrators stormed the steps of the Reichstag building. In embarrassing images that went around the world, some demonstrators waved the right-wing extremist Reichsflagge flag.
Europe's largest economy kept infection and mortality rates below that of many of its neighbors during the first phase of the crisis, but is currently in a second wave in Europe.
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the information contained on this website is not necessarily real-time or accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indices, futures) and forex prices are not provided by exchanges, but by market makers. Therefore, prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price. This means that the prices are indicative and not suitable for trading purposes. Therefore, Fusion Media is not responsible for any trading losses you may suffer from using this data.
Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media assumes no liability for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information such as data, offers, charts and buy / sell signals contained on this website. Please be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading in the financial markets. This is one of the riskiest forms of investment possible.