Thousands of protesters gathered in Berlin on Saturday to march against restrictions implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the measures violate individuals’ rights.
Demonstrators gathered in downtown Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, with few wearing masks and people chanting, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom,” The Associated Press reported.
The gathering was part of a planned protest movement being organized for weeks called “The end of the pandemic — freedom day.” Some demonstrators carried signs with phrases including “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” and “Corona, false alarm.”
Authorities estimated nearly 15,000 came out to join the protests, with attendees ranging from libertarians to science skeptics and some far-right marchers holding up a German imperial flag, Reuters reported.
“Our demand is to return to democracy,” said one demonstrator who chose to remain unnamed. “The mask that enslaves us must go.”
Protesters were reportedly met with some opposition, as law enforcement attempted to split apart large crowd using bullhorns to convey messages reminding participants to keep their social distance.
The move to protest pandemic restrictions comes as the German government has slowly rolled away some lockdown measures while maintaining social-distancing rules and mask requirements inside shops and on public transit.
Germany reported a spike of 955 new COVID-19 cases Friday, marking an upward trend for the country, according to its national disease control center.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than 200,000 have been infected with the virus in Germany and 9,154 have died since the start of the pandemic. The country has not been as severely hit as other European countries but is starting to see a rebound in case numbers.