German extremists hijack May 1 protest to demand end of coronavirus restrictions as demos take place worldwide – The Sun


THOUSANDS of people have used the May International Workers holiday to protest lockdowns all over the world.

Most countries cancelled traditional May Day protests, parades and street parties to keep social distancing rules and stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Rallies across the world have generally been peaceful, like one in Athens, Greece where social distancing was observed, but there have been others who have hijacked the events and made them dangerous.

In Berlin, authorities said they were working against right-wing activists that were plotting to turn the traditional protests into a "hygiene demo".

The "democratic resistance", that is comprised of extremists from both left and right, is nothing new though.

The group of conspiracy nuts and anti-vaxers have been gathering at Berlin's Rosa Luxemburg Platz since the end of March in almost weekly rallies against the lockdown.

Berlin deployed 5,000 police officers to enforce the lockdown rules today amid fears of anti-lockdown rioting and a surge in infections the protests will cause.

Protesters at the "hygiene demos" planned similar national events to the lockdown protests plaguing the US.


Past rallies, like one held April 15, have lead to hundreds of arrests and are generally scorned by the German population.

Recent polls also show that 74 per cent of Germans are in favour of the restrictions and 49 per cent feel that restrictions are being lifted too early.

The city's interior minister Andreas Geisel recently said: "May 1 must not become another Ischgl" – an Austrian ski resort which became a hotbed of infections when European outbreaks started.

Radical left groups have changed their demonstration strategy this year to avoid the risk of infection but promised to "flood the streets with anti-racist, anti-patriarchal and anti-capitalist content".

Organisers have also urged demonstrators to keep their distance from one another, cover their nose and mouth and act responsibly.



PROTESTS AROUND THE WORLD

Elsewhere protests have generally been well managed and peaceful.

Police in Paris made several arrests when rogue demonstrators ignored the cancellations and went out anyway. Unions encouraged people to chant from their windows and balconies instead.

In Vienna around 500 protesters gathered in a loose-knit crowd, many of them didn't wear masks. A man was filmed telling the crowd "It's important to stand against fear" as others chanted "we are not afraid".

In Athens workers and students lined up outside the parliament wearing masks and gloves, waving flags and holding placards while spaced metres apart in a grid marked by plastic markers organised by the Communist-affiliated group PAME.

The protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and held banners reading "No sacrifice for the bosses".

 

Portugal's main CGTP trade union confederation is planning a gathering of union leaders on the vast esplanade where their traditional May Day parade ends each year that will be socially distanced too.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy protesters were pepper-sprayed and dispersed by riot police when they gathered at a mall near Sha Tin Station.

In China the streets were packed along the Huangpu River in Shanghai as people gathered

Finland saw more subdued rallies than most years after police boarded up the market square where there would normally be huge festival rallies, opting instead for online tutorials on cocktail making and wine tasting organised by local restaurants.


IMPATIENCE WITH LOCKDOWNS

Many countries are starting to struggle with maintaining lockdown after months of staying indoors and unprecedented job losses.

Police in Delhi, India, have resorted to turning into "coronavirus zombies" in a bizarre effort to stop people violating lockdown.

Italy has been in lockdown since March 9 and has recently seen some rogue regions lose patience with the central government and independently began opening bars and restaurants ahead of schedule.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte called the "rashness at this delicate stage" "illegitimate" after Veneto and Calabria both moved ahead of schedule.

He said: "Moving from the policy of 'let's close everything' to 'let's reopen everything', would risk irreversibly compromising these efforts"

Italian measures are due to start being lifted next week.

In Spain, prime minister Pedro Sanchez has laid out a four-step plan to end the lockdown, beginning with some bars and restaurants on May 11.

Spanish children and the elderly are only just starting to be allowed to leave their homes.

However this easing of restrictions has come up against hard opposition by regional leaders who said they had not been consulted, calling the reopenings "reckless", "unforgivable" and "imprudent".

Infection rates across Europe vary, but the continent has around 1.4 million cases collectively, with Spain, Italy, the UK, France, Germany and Russia all reporting well over 100,000 cases each.

The international toll of coronavirus stands at 3,333,494 confirmed cases, around 50,608 are known to currently be in a serious or critical condition, and 235,136 are confirmed to have died from the virus.

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