Despite current restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), rallies are expected to be held by both far-right and far-left extremist groups in Berlin on Friday, May 1. Left-wing groups plan to hold events to mark May Day on Friday, which in previous years has attracted thousands of attendees. While organizers have stated that plans will differ this year and any gathering will be done in line with social distancing measures, some more radical elements from both the left and the right who view the lockdown measures as an affront to civil liberties are expected to use the occasion to demonstrate against the restrictions. Previous such demonstrations have been held in the capital in recent weeks, including a gathering of over 500 people on Rosa-Luxemburg Platz in front of the Volksbuehne theatre on Saturday, April 25, which led to around 100 arrests. In anticipation of unrest, around 5000 police officers are set to be deployed across the city to enforce restriction measures, which include a limit of 20 people at registered protests.
The protests are planned despite the government's announcement on Thursday, April 30, regarding the easing of some restrictions. Places of worship, museums, gardens, zoos, playgrounds, and monuments will be opened to visitors in the coming days; restaurants will remain closed. Other social distancing measures will remain in place until at least Sunday, May 10. Citizens are advised to keep contact with people outside of their household to a minimum, maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 m (5 ft) between themselves and others in public. The use of face masks in public spaces became compulsory as of Monday, April 27, including on public transport and while shopping. Cafés, bars, cinemas, and music venues remain closed, while large public events are suspended until at least Sunday, May 10. The government will consider further extensions/relaxations on Wednesday, May 6, as well as the reopening of schools.
A heightened security presence will be in place in Berlin on Friday and clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Individuals in Berlin are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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