Anti-lockdown protesters in Berlin, Germany, were reportedly sprayed down by water cannons Wednesday after they allegedly refused to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Thousands of protesters gathered at Brandenburg Gate while lawmakers debated a bill that would codify the government’s legal right to issue social distancing rules, require masks in public and close stores in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, according to NPR.
The demonstrators accused the government of using the pandemic to limit basic rights and establish a “corona dictatorship,” according to CBS News.
Protesters were reportedly told to disperse, according to NPR. Police later fired water cannons and officers in riot gear moved through the crowd to forcibly remove people who still refused to leave, according to the report. (RELATED: Coronavirus Not Spreading Among Students, Swedish And German Health Professionals Say)
Police used water cannons to disperse thousands of people who were protesting against Germany’s COVID-19 measures in Berlin, as parliament discussed further restrictions. https://t.co/pjz2sYpT72 pic.twitter.com/aILFom88gN
— ABC News (@ABC) November 19, 2020
Berlin police were reportedly attacked with stones, pepper spray and firecrackers, which prompted the use of water cannons, CBS News reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in October that the country would enter a month-long partial lockdown, which shut down non-essential facilities after state governors approved the measure, according to the Associated Press.
State and local governments have the ability to impose their own set of restrictions, including closing non-essential businesses, according to CBS News. Masks are required nationwide due to state laws, according to the same report.
This isn’t the first time protesters in Germany were reportedly hit with water cannons. About 600 people rallied against lockdown measures Saturday in Frankfurt while not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing, according to Reuters. Police eventually used a water cannon to break up the rally, according to the same report.