Source: Robert Besser

BERLIN, Germany: Thousands of protesters marched through Berlin shouting slogans and waving banners to oppose COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday.

The police said some demonstrators attempted to break through barricades protecting the government district around the Reichstag parliament building and clashed with officers, with 50 arrests being made, some for assault.

The Berliner Zeitung reported four officers were injured.

The protesters, with few wearing masks, waved banners displaying the slogans, “I have my own opinion” and “Covid-84,” in a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

With the country’s federal election taking place in one month, leading candidates aiming to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to not re-implement strict lockdown measures.

More than 3.9 million coronavirus cases have been reported in Germany, which is facing a fourth wave of the pandemic. Saturday witnessed 10,303 new cases and 22 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 92,096.

The German government stressed it will stop offering free tests from 11th October to encourage people to get vaccinated, with the exception of those deemed unsuitable, such as pregnant women and children.

It will also require people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test result to dine indoors in restaurants, participate in religious ceremonies or practice indoor sports.