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Coronavirus protesters attack police in Leipzig

German police said demonstrators protesting coronavirus restrictions attacked them in the city of Leipzig Saturday, after the crowd was told to disperse.

Coronavirus protesters attack police in Leipzig
Some of those who joined the Leipzig protest organised by the "Querdenken" group attacked police. Photo: John Macdougall/AFP
“There were numerous attacks against security forces,” police tweeted while media broadcast images of projectiles and fireworks thrown at police who had established a security cordon near the city's main train station.
   
The crowd in the eastern German city was estimated to number around 20,000 and German media reported that some of those who clashed with police were members of far-right groups.
   
Some of the protesters also attacked journalists and people taking part in a counter-demonstration in Leipzig, a large student city.
   
The police were out in force and made several arrests but the clashes continued into the evening.
   
But ignoring the dispersal orders, hundreds of people marched up one of Leipzig's main streets shouting “Merkel must go!” and “peace, freedom, no dictatorship”, according to the German news agency DPA.
   
Municipal authorities said the protesters had infringed the conditions under which they were allowed to hold their demonstration.
   
To curb the coronavirus spike in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to people to help achieve a “turnaround” by respecting a new round of shutdowns until the end of the month.
   
Germany recorded a record 23,000 new virus cases on Saturday. The total number of Covid-19-related deaths stood at 11,226.
 
 
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 'Collateral damage'
 
Under the new measures, Germans will not be confined to their homes, but bars, cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, opera houses and cinemas.
   
Looking ahead to the festive season, Merkel has ruled out any “lavish New Year's Eve parties”, but held out hope that families will be able to celebrate Christmas together.
   
In Leipzig, protester Robert Koehn, 39, called the anti-virus measures “disproportionate”.
   
“I simply see the collateral damage that these measures cause: the isolation of people, the bankruptcy that threatens them”, he said.
 
Fellow protester Anne, 65, said that “for me there is no virus, they cite the coronavirus crisis as a motive, but there are other things behind this”.
   
Organisers of the protest called for “the immediate lifting of restrictions to fundamental rights” arising from measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus.
   
Police ordered the demonstrators several times to respect a distance of 1.5 metres (yards) from each other and to wear protective masks.
   
According to the regional public television MDR, flags recalling the German “Reich” or empire that collapsed after World War I were waved by some protesters, and members of the neo-Nazi group NPD were reportedly seen in the crowd.
   
Saxony, the state where Leipzig is located, is considered a stronghold of far-right German nationalists, but the rally organisers consider themselves “free-thinkers” representing a range of political and social movements.
   
The demonstrators are closely tracked by German authorities, especially since several hundred protesters forced their way past police barriers and onto the steps of the national parliament in late August. 

Member comments

  1. They are lying. Provocateurs from this Fascist government are trying to turn the people against one another. Don’t fall for the lies.

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COVID-19

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”

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