Anti-mask campaigners form human chain at Swiss-German border
Share article:
Share article:

Anti-mask campaigners form human chain at Swiss-German border

© Belga

People opposed to restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) formed a human chain on the border between Germany and Switzerland, on Saturday.

For about 30 minutes, the demonstrators massed on the banks of Lake Constance, which borders Germany, Switzerland and Austria, with the police maintaining a heavy presence to prevent any outbreak of violence.

Joined together with scarves, bits of cloth or rope, the protesters lined up on both sides of the Swisss-German border, which runs through a park in the city of Konstanz, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

Police reported that the situation was “very calm,” and said there were about 1,000 participants in the Konstanz sector.

The organisers had initially expected 15,000 persons and had planned to go around the lake into Austria. However, according to the N-TV television channel, that seemed “very, very difficult” to achieve.

The demonstration was organised by the ‘Free thinkers,’ a motley collection of groups opposed to restrictions linked to Covid-19 that held two demonstrations in Berlin in the summer, in which tens of thousands of people participated.

17 processions or rallies were supposed to be organised on Saturday in Konstanz, but in the early afternoon local police said some rallies had not been held, while others had fewer participants than planned, most likely because it had rained in the morning.

Twelve rallies were also announced for Sunday in the Konstanz city centre. City Hall stressed that most of these were not organised by the ‘anti-mask’ demonstrators, but by groups who wish to express solidarity in this time of the global epidemic. The police said they planned a heavy deployment on Sunday to pre-empt any outbreaks of violence.

The rallies come amid a surge in new infections in Germany, which had largely succeeded in containing the spread of Covid-19. On Saturday, the number of new infections in 24 hours topped the 2,500 mark.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was very worried by the surge. On Tuesday, she announced new restrictions, particularly on private parties, and immediate fines for violators of certain rules.

The municipality of Konstanz has banned demonstrators from brandishing distinctive signs of the former Nazi regime or “flags of the Reich,” as they had done in Berlin. It has also mandated the wearing of face masks when social distancing measures cannot be respected.

At the last rally, in late August, hundreds of demonstrators had stormed security barriers and climbed onto the steps of the Reichstag, headquarters of the German parliament, marking a new stage in the radicalisation of the movement.

The protests draw a motley crowd of anti-vaccination activists, conspiracy theorists and citizens genuinely worried about the restrictions linked to Covid-19, but they have also, increasingly, been attracting extreme right sympathisers, according to the authorities.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...