A march in Berlin by thousands opposed to coronavirus restrictions was halted by German police on Saturday.
The biggest of several European protests against anti-virus curbs and masks to halt the pandemic.
Police in Berlin disperse around 18,000 anti-lockdown protesters massed in the Brandenburg Gate, despite a ruling from the city’s administrative court the previous day that overturned the government’s ban on public demonstrations.
With new COVID-19 cases on the rise, European nations are starting to tighten controls while trying to avoid the major lockdowns imposed earlier this year to contain the outbreak that has killed more than 800,000 worldwide.
Across the globe, governments are struggling to revive economies already battered by the pandemic while managing public frustration over new restrictions and masks to curb infections.
In Germany, around 18,000 people had massed in Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, before the rally was forced to stop due to a police injunction because many were not respecting social distancing measures.
Several thousands stayed on to protest after the announcement, chanting “resistance” and a small group clashed with police, tossing bottles and rocks. Two people were arrested, police said.
Protesters waved German flags and shouted “Merkel must go!”, a chant often used by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party against Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I’m not an extreme right-wing sympathiser, I’m here to defend our fundamental freedoms,” said Stefan, a 43-year-old Berlin resident with a shaved head and a T-shirt with the words, Thinking helps” written in large print.