Coronavirus: German anti-lockdown protests shift to Polish border

Anti-lockdown protesters picked Germany’s Frankfurt-an-der-Oder on the border with Poland as their venue Saturday, mostly not wearing masks, despite appeals from police and advice from epidemiologists. 

Among the some 2,000 “Querdenker” (lateral thinkers) professing “freedom and peace” were several hundred people from the adjacent Polish town of Slubice.

Police speaking German and Polish urged objectors to observe coronavirus hygiene rules, and offered protestors masks, while the university town’s administration urged residents to stay at home.

At the Polish end of the riverside border bridge between the twin communities, police refused entry to mask-less visitors from Germany.

Protests in Slubice were limited to five participants apiece.

Counter-demonstrators in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, put by police at 150, proclaimed “no place for Nazis” and “masked ball instead of Corona-deniers.”

Read more: Coronavirus digest: Britain names COVID vaccine minister

Coronavirus ‘hot spot’ in Thuringia

Some 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest in Germany’s state of Thuringia, Hildburghausen county administrator Thomas Müller was placed under police guard.

The decision followed threats via social media, a local shutdown, and police dispersal with pepper spray of several hundred protestors on Wednesday night as they paraded singing without masks and without distancing — defying viral restraint rules.

The 63,000-population county, including 14,000 in Hildburghausen town, remained ranked Saturday as Germany’s worst pandemic hot spot, with kindergarten and schools closed and most gatherings prohibited.

Using Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gauge of day-to-day new infections per 100,000 population, Hildburghausen county stood at 595 on Saturday.

Read more: Coronavirus: Germany expects vaccine approval by mid-December

High infection level in Bavaria’s Passau

Second-placed, in neighboring Bavaria, Passau city and outlying suburbs had 439 new infections Saturday — far above 50, Germany’s officially agreed level for initial interventions.

Passau began a week-long shut down on Friday, announced by mayor Jürgen Dupper, including a public place alcohol ban, movements from apartments restricted, and secondary class sizes reduced to teaches giving alternating lessons. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Germany should not ease lockdown over Christmas, says top doctor

Europe debates ski resort closures

Europe’s debate on whether ski slopes should operate this winter, suggested by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but rejected by Switzerland, led Saturday to a protest in France’s sporting Province Alp city of Gap

Hundreds of protestors, put by police at 400, by organizers at 2,000, demanded the ski lifts, restaurants and bars be kept open at winter sports locations.

On Thursday, Prime Minister had announced the ski fields could open at Christmas, but the ski lifts must remain idle, a move decried by operators.

Also backing closure until January 10 is Bavaria’s premier Markus Söder to avert a repeat of Europe’s initial coronavirus spread from Austria’s resort Ischgl in March.

An anti-lockdown protest in London Saturday resulted in 155 arrests, said police of anti-mask and anti-vaccine demonstrators, some waving “stop controlling us” placards.

ipj/mm (dpa, AFP, AP)

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