German court permits Berlin protests against coronavirus curbs

People take part in a demonstration called by far-right and COVID-19 deniers to protest against restrictions related to the new coronavirus pandemic, on August 29, 2020 in Berlin. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

A German regional court gave the go-ahead on Saturday for mass demonstrations planned in Berlin against coronavirus curbs, ruling against the capital's ban on such protests.

Police have readied for violence as activists opposed to the virus measures have urged social media followers across Europe to arm themselves and gather in Berlin.

Activists, angered by Berlin's decision to ban demonstrations after marchers at a recent rally failed to wear masks or keep their distance, flooded the city with thousands of applications for additional protest rallies this weekend.

"The gatherings planned by several initiatives for Aug. 29 against the corona policy of the federal and state governments can take place," the court ruled.

Until now Germany has managed the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European counterparts, with rigorous testing helping to hold down infections and deaths.

But new daily infections have accelerated in recent weeks, as in much of the world.

On Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to keep up their guard against the virus. "This is a serious matter, as serious as it's ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously," she said.


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