Protesters in a central German city have clashed with police over coronavirus measures, with officers using pepper spray and batons against people trying to break through barriers, according to reports.
Around 10,000 people participated in the protests in Kassel, and in addition to clashes with police there were also several scuffles with counter-protesters.
Thousands of people marched through downtown Kassel despite a court ban, and most did not comply with pandemic hygiene measures such as wearing face masks. Several reporters were attacked by the protesters, the dpa news agency reported.
Federal police, who had been brought in in advance from other parts of the country, used water cannons and helicopters to keep the crowds under control, according to the reports.
Police said that several people were detained, but did not give any numbers.
Various groups, most of them far-right opponents of government regulations to fight the pandemic, had called for protests on Saturday in cities across the country.
Virus infections have gone up again in Germany in recent weeks and the government is set to decide next week on how to react.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will have to apply an “emergency brake” to reverse some recent relaxations of restrictions as coronavirus infections accelerate.
Germany’s national disease control centre said new infections were growing exponentially as the more contagious Covid-19 variant first detected in the UK has become dominant in the country.
On Saturday, the Robert Koch Institute reported 16,033 new cases and registered 207 additional deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 74,565 in Germany.
In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only about 500 protesters assembled at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate. Meanwhile, around 1,000 citizens came together on Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard to protest against the far-right demonstration.
Police had to intervene when some far-right protesters tried to attack press photographers.