Covid clashes | 

Violent protests break out across Germany over tightening of Covid restrictions

Several police officers were injured in violent clashes
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Dresden, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Dresden, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

Abby Young-PowellTelegraph Media Group Limited

Violent protests broke out across Germany for the second day in a row on Monday, as politicians further tightened coronavirus restrictions to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

Thousands of people marched through dozens of German cities and several police officers were injured in violent clashes, according to police reports.

The protests come as eight German states brought in additional contact restrictions yesterday, preventing vaccinated people from meeting more than nine other people at one time indoors.

On Monday, gatherings were limited in several states.

In some places, leisure facilities, such as gyms and cinemas, have shut and restaurants face earlier closing times.

Night clubs across Germany have also been shuttered ahead of New Year’s Eve.

Around 15,000 people took to the streets in the North-Eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Monday, where some of the toughest restrictions came into force, closing cinemas, theatres and other leisure venues.

Police officers watch a protest against government measures to curb the spread Covid, in Dresden, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

Police officers watch a protest against government measures to curb the spread Covid, in Dresden, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

In the Eastern state of Saxony there was also a “massive” assault with fireworks and bottles, police said, leaving ten officers injured.

Saxony is considered to be a far-right stronghold, where protestors have previously been criticised for holding a flaming torch-lit rally –  reminiscent of the Nazi era –  to protest against pandemic restrictions.

On Monday, thousands marched behind a banner saying “homeland protection, not mouth protection,” referring to coronavirus masks.

Further violent escalations were reported in Mannheim and Ravensburg in the south of Germany.

In Pirmasens on the border to France, two demonstrators attacked a police unit after being told to wear face masks, according to German newswire DPA.

Germany is grappling with the prospect of another wave of coronavirus infections triggered by the Omicron variant, despite reporting declining numbers of infections in recent days.

The country’s leading virologist, Christian Drosten, of Berlin’s Charite hospital, told Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that it “remained to be seen when and whether” the measures would work.

He also floated the idea of increased freedoms for those who have been boosted with a third vaccine shot.

Around 70pc of Germans have received two doses of vaccine and 35pc have received a booster jab.

Other European countries have also tightened restrictions this week.

France on Monday introduced a raft of new restrictions that include the return of masks outdoors, new mandatory work-from-home rules and a cap on mass gatherings as part of an emergency strategy aimed at curbing runaway Covid-19 infections that set new records over the holidays.

Meanwhile, it was announced that French intensive care nurses will get a monthly € 100 bonus as health workers struggle to handle the latest Omicron-fuelled wave of Covid-19 infections, citing exhaustion and low pay.

During a visit to an intensive care unit in the Paris region, Prime Minister Jean Castex said over 24,000 health workers will receive the new premium starting in January.

He called the gesture “an indispensable recognition for these services which we obviously need more than ever in the current crisis we are going through with the arrival of the Omicron variant.”

But critics slammed the bonus as “too little, too late” after two years of pandemic during which health workers repeatedly protested for better working conditions and higher pay.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s far from what the sector expects,” said Thierry Amouroux, a spokesperson for the National Union of Nurses.

“All nurses are underpaid in France.”  ( Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)


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