BERLIN, GERMANY—On Saturday, August 1, around 20,000 people protested at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate against COVID-19 restrictions. Organizers named the event the “Day of Freedom” and “The End of the Pandemic.” The protest attracted some anti-vaccine, conspiracy theorist, far-right, and neo-Nazi groups. On videos capturing the protest, participants have said “we are being forced to wear a muzzle. We are the second wave,” and wrote “natural defense instead of vaccination,” on placards. In the images and videos, few protesters wore masks or socially distanced by the required five feet.
A group of counter protesters, who called themselves “grandmothers against the extreme right.” They stood distanced with signs that read “no place for Nazis,” and wore face masks, which Germany has made mandatory.
Demonstrators had to disperse by the end of the afternoon per the orders of police.
Politicians were not pleased with the protests, with Saskia Esken of the Social Democrats tweeting “Thousands of #covidiots are celebrating themselves in Berlin as ‘the second wave,’ without distancing, without masks.” The demonstration coincided with increasing worries about rising infections of COVID in the past weeks, which has caused 9,000 deaths in Germany as of Saturday. 955 new infections were reported on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch health institute, levels not seen since May 9.