Merkel panic: Germany chaos as thousands take to streets to protest lockdown

German Police arrested 86 people in Berlin after violence broke out during a demonstration in the central square of Alexanderplatz on Saturday. One officer was injured and another person was injured during an incident in front of the Reichstag building where 45 people were detained.

Police said a man attacked a TV crew member during a protest in the city of Dortmund. The 23-year-old was arrested.

Germany has begun to ease some of its coronavirus lockdown restrictions – but protestors have taken to the streets to protest over claims the invisible killer virus is harmless or a global conspiracy.

Protestors in Cologne were even urging shoppers to take their masks off when entering shops.

A police chief in Cologne said: “It seems like these people still haven’t understood that it is not just about their health but also the lives of others.”

The protests sparked concerns among Germany’s grand coalition.

SPD leader Saskia Esken told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “Looking away and silence doesn’t help. We have to stand up and prove ourselves to be strident Democrats.”

CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak told the Augsburger Allgemeine: “We do not allow extremists to use the corona crisis as a platform for their anti-democratic propaganda.

“But it is also clear that we are taking action against those who are now fueling citizens’ concerns with conspiracy theories and circulating fake news.”

It comes after Germany’s federal government and 16 states agreed all shops and some sports could restart under certain conditions.

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Schools have gradually opened for all pupils and states will each decide on reopening restaurants, hotels and gyms.

Germany went into lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Based on infection levels, states will decide on their own about a gradual opening of universities, bars, trade fairs, cosmetic studios, brothels, theatres, cinemas and discos all under certain hygiene and distancing concepts.

Individual states will also decide on limiting contact between people.

Germany has been more successful than other large European countries in slowing the virus’ spread.

But in a bid to prevent a second widespread coronavirus outbreak, the federal and state governments agreed in preliminary talks that if the number of new infections rises after restrictions on public life are eased, local restrictions should be reintroduced immediately.

The plan is for this threshold to be set at “more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within the last seven days” in districts.

Documents show that if there is a limited outbreak, such as in a nursing home, restrictions might only be applied there.

The paper said: “If there is a dispersed regional outbreak and infection chains are unclear, general restrictions, such as those in force in Germany before 20 April, must be consistently reintroduced regionally.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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