By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and William Glucroft
Berlin authorities have banned a planned demonstration on Saturday against masks and other coronavirus restrictions.
A so-called “protest camp” was also banned. Approximately 22,500 people had registered for the “Assembly of Freedom.”
Officials said they opted for the ban for fear the participants would violate social distancing and other health measures, just as protesters did at a similar rally earlier this month.
“The state cannot be fooled,” Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel said in a statement. He added the decision isn’t against people’s right to assemble, but to protect the public at a time when COVID-19 numbers are climbing.
Geisel warned that police will act if the demonstrators choose to flout the ban.
“I’m not prepared to see Berlin abused a second time as a stage for coronavirus deniers, Reich Citizens and right-wing extremists,” Geisel said.
The Reich Citizens’ movement rejects the legitimacy of the German federal and state governments.
Whether counterdemonstrations that were being organized will be allowed to go ahead wasn’t immediately clear.
The city of Munich plans to limit alcohol sales if COVID-19 rates go up.
City officials announced the alcohol restrictions would be triggered if Munich’s seven-day infection rate exceeds 35 cases per 100,000 people. The rate was hovering around 28 as of Tuesday — about four times higher than in early August.
If the rules come into effect, a ban on alcohol sales would begin at 9 p.m., with an end to drinking in public starting at 11 p.m.
Police would be chiefly responsible for enforcing the ban, but officials say details still need to be worked out.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, the southern German state famous for beer and the annual Oktoberfest, which has already been canceled due to the pandemic.
Starting next Friday, Sept. 4, day trippers will be allowed to visit Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania again. It’s the first time since March, when the pandemic led officials to restrict entry.
With the vacation season ending and the start of school and day care in the state, officials there decided it was safe to open the borders to all visitors.
But they also decided that the masking requirement in stores will remain in force.
At the moment, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in Germany.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.