Thousands protest in Berlin

Several thousand people banging saucepans and blowing whistles gathered in central Berlin on Wednesday to protest against Angela Merkel’s plans to give her government powers to enforce restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, news wires reported.

Germany’s lower and upper houses of parliament are due to pass laws later on Wednesday which could allow the government to impose restrictions on social contact, rules on mask-wearing, drinking alcohol in public, shutting shops and stopping sports events.

Although most Germans accept the latest “lockdown light” to tackle a second wave of the coronavirus, critics say the law gives the government too much power and endangers citizens’ civil rights without the approval of parliament.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has even compared it with the Enabling Act of 1933 that paved the way Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. One protestor wore a face mask with the words “Merkel-Muzzle”, others held banners with slogans such as “For Enlightenment. Peace and Freedom”.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was widely praised for keeping infection and death rates below those of many of its neighbours in the first phase of the crisis but is now in the midst of a second wave, like much of the rest of Europe. The number of coronavirus cases rose by 17,561 to 833,307, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed on Wednesday. The death toll stands at 13,119.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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