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Dense crowd in the thousands protest Covid-19 restrictions in Berlin

Thousands protested Germany's coronavirus restrictions today in a Berlin demonstration marking what organisers called “the end of the pandemic” — a declaration that comes just as authorities are voicing increasing concerns about an uptick in new infections.

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Thousands of people marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate. Source: Associated Press

With few masks in sight, a dense crowd marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate.

Protestors who came from across the country held up homemade signs with slogans like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defence instead of vaccination" and “We are the second wave.”

They chanted, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom!”

Police used bullhorns to chide participants to adhere to social distancing rules and to wear masks, apparently with little success. They tweeted that they drew up a criminal complaint against the rally's organiser for failing to enforce hygiene rules, then said shortly afterward that the organiser had ended the march.

Police estimated about 17,000 people turned out. The demonstrators were kept apart from counterprotestors, some of whom chanted “Nazis out!”

Protestors continued to a subsequent rally on a boulevard running through the city's Tiergarten park, which police estimated drew 20,000 people. Police declared that event over as organisers again failed to get demonstrators to wear masks or keep their distance.

Thousands march along the 'Friedrichstrasse' during the demonstration against coronavirus measures in Berlin, Germany. Source: Associated Press

Protests against anti-virus restrictions in Germany have drawn a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists and right-wing populists.

Unlike the US, Brazil and Britain, Germany’s government has been praised worldwide for its management of the pandemic. The country’s death toll — just over 9,150 people out of more than 210,670 confirmed virus cases as of today — is five times less than Britain's, which has a smaller population.

The German government has been easing lockdown measures since late April but social distancing rules remain, as does a requirement to wear masks on public transit and in shops.

Officials have been warning against complacency as the number of new Covid-19 cases has crept up recently. Amid concerns about residents bringing home infections from summer trips abroad, officials introduced free tests for people entering the country.

Germany's national disease control centre registered 955 new cases yesterday, a high figure by recent standards.

“Thousands of #covidiots are celebrating themselves in Berlin as ‘the second wave,’ without distancing, without masks," tweeted Saskia Esken, a co-leader of the Social Democrats, the junior party in Germany's governing coalition.

“They are not just endangering our health, they are endangering our success against the pandemic and for the revival of the economy, education and society. Irresponsible!"