German police shut down anti-lockdown protest in Berlin, citing infection risk

Police said they were not 'able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks.'

Updated: August 29, 2020 - 3:04pm

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German police in the nation's capitol of Berlin shut down an anti-lockdown protest there on Saturday, claiming the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak was too great to allow the demonstration to continue. 

Thousands of protesters had gathered in Berlin to protest against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coronavirus restrictions, with many demonstrators crowded together while not wearing masks. Local ordinance dictates that "assemblies" must ensure participants observe "minimum distance" rules of around five feet between individuals.

City police chief Barbara Slowik said prior to the march that officials were not "able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks." The demonstration had earlier been approved by authorities before it was dispersed. 

Germany was praised early on in the pandemic for its apparent success in keeping virus levels low, with officials crediting strong lockdown measures and testing programs as the secret to the country's success. 

Daily case levels there remained mostly flat throughout the late spring and summer, though from mid-July onward they have been slowly rising. Deaths, meanwhile, peaked in late April and for most of August have consistently hovered around four to five per day.