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Angela Merkel has been facing growing dissent from Germans questioning her strategy to contain and eliminate the coronavirus threat once and for all across Germany. Thousands of protesters came together in Berlin over the weekend to denounce the Government’s ongoing social distancing requirements, with some demonstrators accusing Chancellor Merkel of imposing strict measures to extend her power over them. DW News reporter Leonie von Hammerstein said: “Some of their demands were included by the organisers in a document before the event, and they called this the day of freedom.
“They called on the German Government to resign and for the state broadcasters also to be dissolved.
“These were the demands of many of the people I spoke to at the protest. What united them was a distrust in the Government’s measures. This is kind of a paradox.”
Ms von Hammerstein reported a common thread uniting the protesters was the ongoing imposition of social distancing measures despite the limited death toll Germany had compared to other European countries.
Chancellor Merkel was praised earlier in the pandemic for her ability to contain the spread of the virus, which claimed 9,226 lives so far in Germany, but she is now facing pressure as the infection rate appears to have spiked again.
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The DW News reported continued: “A lot of the people were telling me the Government was telling us to keep our distance and stick to all these restrictions in order for the hospitals not to be overcrowded, in order for people not to die.
“But not that many people died, the hospitals are still empty, so why did the Government tell us that in the first place?
“There is an inherit distrust in what the Government is telling them and that’s why we saw tens of thousands of people taking to the streets, not adhering to the rules, not adhering to face mask use.
“A lot of them were telling me they see face masks as a symbol of oppression that the Government is forcing them to wear.”
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Forty-five police officers were injured in clashes with the crowd during the Berlin protests.
The demonstrators, which included representatives from the hard right and left as well as conspiracy theorists, marched down the German capital shouting “we are the second wave” as they urged fellow Germans to “resist.”
Saskia Esken, the co-leader of the centre-left SPD party, lashed out at the protesters for putting their health and those of other Berliners at risk.
Ms Esken said: “They are not only jeopardizing our health, they are jeopardizing our achievements against the pandemic and the revival of the economy, education, and society.”
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Germany reported 955 new cases on Saturday and 870 on Friday last week, with the public being accused of becoming “negligent on hygiene and social distancing rules.”
Berlin Police have launched legal action against the organizers of the protest for the “non-respect of hygiene rules.”
The protest came as Education Minister Anja Karliczek called for the mandatory introduction of face masks in schools because of the coronavirus spike Germany is experiencing.
Ms Karliczek said: “It’s comprehensible when regional states want to forgo the social distancing rules at schools because the spatial conditions would only allow limited in-person classes.
“However, in-person classes will only work when additional hygiene regulations and rules for wearing masks and social distancing in school yards and corridors are strictly observed.”
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