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200 arrested as German police break up protests against coronavirus measures

Police in Germany said 200 people were arrested during protest against government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE
Police in Germany said 200 people were arrested during protest against government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Police in Germany broke up a protest against the government's efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

As many as 10,000 people gathered in the government district of Berlin as lawmakers in the German Parliament voted to amend the country's Infection Protection Act to clarify what kind of protective measures can be ordered by state governments.

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Up to 2,200 police officers were deployed to the area and the Federal Ministry of the Interior ordered extensive barricades around the parliamentary building to prevent the session from being disrupted.

Officers asked organizers to end demonstrations as most of the protesters refused to follow social distancing guidelines or abide by mask requirements.

Berlin police said officers were attacked with bottles, firecrackers, stones and pepper spray and responded by firing water cannons to break up the protests. Police ultimately made at least 200 arrests.

During the vote, lawmakers from the Alternative for Germany Party protested the proceedings by refusing to wear masks and ignoring social distancing rules.

Germany has reported 854,533 cases of COVID-19 and 13,236 deaths related to the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government have not imposed a nationwide lockdown in response to the virus but state and local governments have implemented restrictions on travel, closed non-essential businesses and required masks in all public places.

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