On Wednesday, November 18, police fired water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters gathered in Berlin to denounce government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Protesters, which included members of far-right groups, gathered around the Brandenburg Gate, on Marschallbrücke, and at Strasse des 17 Juni. Authorities prohibited protests outside Reichstag and Bundesrat buildings; additional police officers were deployed to the area ahead of the demonstration to ensure protesters did not reach parliament. Police stopped the protest after marchers failed to observe social distancing regulations and refused to wear face masks. A large number refused to leave the area. Activists threw bottles, stones, and firecrackers at police; at least nine officers were injured and nearly 200 protesters were arrested.
MPs on Wednesday voted in support of a reform law that grants state governments formal powers to impose stricter restrictions with greater legal force to help halt the spread of the virus. Such restrictions included measures on social contact, drinking alcohol in public, rules on mask-wearing, the closure of shops, and suspending sports events. The demonstrators claim the law infringes their civil rights.
Further associated demonstrations are likely in the near term. Counter-demonstrations were also held on Wednesday and may also continue. Localized disruptions and a heightened security presence should be anticipated in the vicinity of all demonstrations.
Those in Berlin are advised to monitor developments, avoid all associated demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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