In Brief: Mandatory masks at future demonstrations? Berlin interior senator to propose requirement following Saturday’s protest

Interior Senator Andreas Geisel plans to discuss the proposed health law at a Berlin Senate meeting on Tuesday.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson/KCRW Berlin

 

 

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Kate Brady

Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel said he wants to make the wearing of masks mandatory at all future demonstrations and will discuss the proposed health law change at a Senate meeting Tuesday.

Geisel said at a Berlin House of Representatives hearing that last Saturday’s photos showing protesters violating hygiene rules prove the city’s decision to initially ban the demonstration was justified. That ban was overturned by the Berlin Administrative Court last Friday.

The city government is reviewing why police officers initially failed to protect the Reichstag building after scores of demonstrators crossed its barricades and stormed the steps. Only three police officers were there at the time.

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Germany’s Constitutional Court on Sunday upheld a ban against a planned protest camp in Berlin’s Tiergarten.

COVID-19 skeptics planned to camp along the street between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14.

The judges rejected an appeal of an administrative court ruling that had banned the gathering, saying it was both “inadmissible” and “unfounded.”

The court cited public health concerns for upholding the ban, saying there was no guarantee that demonstrators would follow coronavirus health measures.

The vigil, as protesters called it, had been organized by the same group that mobilized last Saturday’s protest.

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Monday marked five years since Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement that changed the course of German politics.

“Wir schaffen das,” or “we can manage it,” she told a news conference at the time, trying to ease public fears as thousands of asylum-seekers arrived daily in Germany.

But repeated missteps by her government during the refugee crisis bolstered her critics, especially the far-right Alternative for Germany. Two years later, it ended up winning its first seats in the Bundestag, where it became the main opposition party.

The following year, Merkel stepped down as head of her Christian Democratic Union party and announced this would be her last term.

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