Berlin authorities cracked down on a massive protest Saturday, claiming participants had failed to comply with the city's coronavirus rules. Which wasn't too surprising, considering the demonstration was against those very restrictions.
According to the New York Times, Berlin officials estimate about 18,000 gathered in the capital calling for an end to the months-long COVID-19 lockdown. Officers say they were forced to halt the march because many of the demonstrators were not wear masks, nor were they maintaining the minimum physical distance of five feet.
"We approached the leader of the demonstration and informed him that his meeting would be dissolved by the police," Berlin police tweeted. "All previous measures have not led to compliance with the requirements."
Officers say the protest was mostly peaceful; however, the demonstration resulted in the arrest of about 200 people, most of whom were described as "far-right agitators," according to the BBC. Among the participating organizations were the right-wing outlet Compact Magazine and Alternative for Germany, a conservative political party that includes extremists and conspiracy theorists.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated the coronavirus restrictions wouldn't go away anytime soon, as health experts predict a second—possibly worse—wave will hit as the cold-weather months roll in.
"Some things are likely to be more difficult over the next few months than they are in the summer," Merkel said during a Friday press conference. "... We will have to live with this virus for a long time to come. It is still serious. Please continue to take it seriously. Not everything will be the same as before the pandemic, it will hit us hard and existentially."
As of Saturday, Berlin had reportedly tallied more than 242,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 9,000 deaths.