Authorities in Berlin have banned this weekend’s planned protests against the German government’s coronavirus restrictions, citing concerns about violations of hygiene regulations.

In a statement, Berlin’s Senate announced: “Today, the assembly authority banned several demonstrations that were to take place next weekend in Berlin,” adding that “the expected circle of participants will be in violation of the current infection protection ordinance.”

The Senate said that protests on August 1 had shown “that the participants had deliberately ignored existing hygiene rules and corresponding requirements.”

Andreas Geisel, a senior official in the state of Berlin said: “This is not a decision against freedom of assembly, but a decision for infection protection. We are still in the middle of a pandemic with increasing numbers of infections. This cannot be denied. We must therefore weigh up the fundamental right to freedom of assembly against the right to the integrity of life. We have chosen life.”

Organizers of the protest had planned to march through the center of the German capital on Saturday. Police told CNN as many as 17,000 participants were expected to march, with thousands more expected at a rally afterwards.

“I am not prepared to accept a second time that Berlin is misused as a stage for Corona [virus] deniers … and right-wing extremists,” Geisel went on to say, adding that: “The state will not be fooled.”

Here’s some background: Thousands of protesters rallied in Berlin on August 1 to demonstrate against measures imposed in Germany to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Police broke up the demonstration, which was attended by some 20,000 people, on the basis that organizers failed to ensure health and safety regulations were followed. Most protesters did not wear face masks or adhere to physical distancing rules, police said. 

German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with the country’s 16 state premiers on Thursday to discuss the country’s coronavirus response amid rising numbers of infections.

Source : CNN

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