UPDATES WITH BUNDESTAG VOTE ON NEW LEGISLATION TO COMBAT VIRUS
BERLIN (AA) - Police forcibly broke up an anti-lockdown protest near German parliament on Wednesday after thousands of protestors defied the police orders to disperse.
Nearly 5,000 protestors, including right-wing extremists and anti-vaccination activists, gathered outside the landmark Brandenburg Gate, while lawmakers were discussing a new legislation for stricter coronavirus restrictions.
As protestors refused to wear masks and keep a safe distance, the police told protest leaders to end the demonstration peacefully and later used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.
Berlin police said on Twitter that nearly 190 protestors were arrested on various charges, and nine police officers were injured during the protests.
The German lower house of parliament Bundestag approved on Wednesday proposed changes to the current infection protection law, which would give the government stronger powers to impose anti-coronavirus restrictions.
The new legislation was backed by 415 lawmakers, 236 voted against and eight abstained.
Germany has entered a month-long partial lockdown on Nov. 2 after a surge in new infections and the government is considering to extend the measures beyond the end of the month.
On Wednesday, the country reported 17,561 new cases, and 305 more COVID-19 related deaths. The total number of virus cases now stands at 833,307 cases, with at least 13,119 deaths.
Germany has the fifth-highest tally of coronavirus infections in Europe, behind France, Spain, the UK, and Italy.