Berlin court allows anti-coronavirus measures demo to go ahead

Berlin court allows anti-coronavirus measures demo to go ahead
20,000 people attended the protest against coronavirus measures on August 1st. Photo: DPA
The Berlin administrative court has overturned the ban placed on the demonstration against coronavirus regulations planned for this weekend.

Berlin city authorities earlier decided not to allow the Saturday demo to go ahead, fearing that the estimated 22,000 protesters would not stay the recommended 1.5 metres apart or comply with regulations on face masks.

READ ALSO: Berlin bans weekend demos against coronavirus measures

A court spokesman said that the protest will now be allowed to go ahead on Saturday, albeit under strict conditions.

Organisers were required to adjust the location of the main stage to ensure enough space for demonstrators. Regular loudspeaker announcements and stewards would also have to be used to enforce social distancing. 

A minimum distance of 300 meters between video walls was also required, yet without an obligation to wear a mask.

Since the controversial ban was announced earlier this week, thousands of new requests for new rallies had been submitted to authorities – these too were banned, however, on the grounds that they are intended as Ersatzdemonstrationen (replacement demonstrations).

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The organisers, known as the “Querdenken 711” (Lateral Thinkers 711), also quickly appealed the decision, dubbing it as a violation of their freedom of assembly. 

The hashtag #SturmaufBerlin (Storm on Berlin) was trending on Twitter on Thursday, with many opponents of the ban encouraging protesters to mobilise by travelling to the capital, and some even calling for violence. 

State officials had originally justified the ban by arguing that demonstrators were likely to violate coronavirus rules, as they did at a previous demonstration earlier this month.

On August 1st, 20,000 protesters descended upon the capital to call for an end to coronavirus restrictions, with many deliberately ignoring social distancing regulations and refusing to wear face masks.  

The demonstration was eventually broken up by Berlin police after several warnings were issued. 

The decision to overturn the ban is not yet legally binding. It remains to be seen whether the city-state of Berlin or the organisers of the demonstration will now appeal the verdict.

Shortly before the announcement, Berlin Chief of Police Barbara Slowika confirmed that they would appeal to the Higher Administrative Court in the instance of a legal defeat. 

Berlin has seen 11,010 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and 226 deaths as a result of the virus, according to local health authorities.

READ ALSO: Berlin protest against coronavirus measures draws 20,000

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