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Germany: Arrests as police disperse anti-lockdown demo and counter-protests

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A large contingent of police officers patrolled the streets of Leipzig on Saturday, as anti-lockdown protesters condemned government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Several arrests were made.

Police could be seen separating both anti-COVID-measure protesters and groups of counter-demonstrators, who had been clashing, according to the Sachsen police on Twitter.

Dozens of coronavirus sceptics could be seen without masks holding heart signs and messages calling for more freedom.

The protest was reportedly cancelled after demonstrators began to gather in the city centre. Up to 1,000 protesters per rally are permitted to gather at one time, due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The anti-lockdown protest was announced after the German Bundestag adopted a legislation which gives the government a stronger legal basis to impose restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19. The call to protest has sparked fears of a repeat of the November 8 Leipzig rally that attracted around 40,000 attendees and resulted in serious clashes between protesters and the police.

After Germany experienced record increases in the number of coronavirus cases in October, the country entered a month-long partial lockdown on November 2, with restaurants limited to takeaway service only. Theatres, cinemas, and public recreation centres, including swimming pools, gyms, and saunas are to stay closed, while new restrictions have been put in place to limit social contact.

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