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Virus protesters warned after tens of thousands rally in Germany

The authorities in Germany’s south-western state of Baden-Württemberg are warning coronavirus protesters against going out onto the streets unless their rallies are authorised, after over 50,000 people on Monday, January 4, 2022, demonstrated their opposition to anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Thomas Strobl
Baden-Württemberg State’s Interior Minister, Thomas Strobl

The state’s Interior Minister, Thomas Strobl, on Tuesday, updated an estimate of how many people were at the demos after authorities released a far lower figure the previous evening.

“There were some 170 protests across the state, watched by over 2,500 police officers,’’ Strobl told public broadcaster ARD.

“The demonstrations are now a very, very large phenomenon.’’

Those caught violating rules on large gatherings would face fines, he said.

“The rule of law still applies … anyone who organises something like this, makes themselves open to punishment,’’ he said.

Extremists were being carefully watched, he said.

Tens of thousands of people in other states on Monday evening also took part in demonstrations against coronavirus measures and government plans for compulsory vaccinations.

In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the northeast, a focal point of the demonstrations in recent weeks, the Police said about 12,000 people took part in protests.

The state of Thuringia saw about 17,000 people on the streets.

About 10,000 protested in Bavaria and some 2,500 people gathered in the city of Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt, the Police said.

Violence broke out at times both in Magdeburg and in protests in the eastern state of Saxony.

The demonstrations may reflect how the debate over coronavirus measures to counter the spread of the Omicron variant is coming to a head in Germany.

A meeting on Friday of state and federal leaders is expected to agree on new measures, including on quarantine periods, as well as possibly revealing the government’s plans to introduce compulsory vaccination.

Meanwhile, the benchmark infection rate continues to rise slowly nationwide, despite the fact that infections are likely to be under-reported due to lower testing in the Christmas and New Year periods.

The rate of hospitalisation has continued a downward trend in Germany over the past few weeks.

Some 365 people died in the past 24 hours, according to official statistics.

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