More than 20,000 people demonstrated Saturday in eastern Germany against government-imposed coronavirus restrictions after a court rejected the city of Leipzig’s attempt to move the protest away from a central square, police said.
The city determined that only 5,000 people could gather in the square and keep 1.5 meters (5 feet) away from each other.
With protest organizers saying they expected at least 16,000 participants, administrators had sought to move the demonstration to a larger location outside the city’s center.
“It is hard to explain how only two households are permitted to meet together and yet 16,000 people are allowed to demonstrate on one plaza,” city spokesman Matthias Hasberg told German news agency dpa after the appeals court issued its decision.
Most of the protesters ignored the government mandates requiring masks and social distancing.
One woman carried a sign that read “For: truth, justice and freedom” while wearing a mask over her eyes.
The city ordered the event shut down a little more than two hours after it began.
Many protesters refused to leave. Police warned on social media that they were videotaping participants to document who was committing crimes or civil infractions. About half the crowd remained when it got dark.
The demonstration came as Germany finished its first week of what is being called “lockdown light.”
A four-week partial shutdown that took effect on Monday closed bars, restaurants, leisure centers and sports facilities, and imposed new restrictions on contact with other people. Shops and schools remain open.
In Munich, an appeals court on Saturday upheld the southern city’s ban on demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions that were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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