Germany Erupts in Protests Over COVID Mandates, Police Officers Injured in Riots

Thousands of people in Germany protested new coronavirus safety mandates on Monday as the nation grapples with an Omicron-fueled wave in cases.

The protests, which were largely concentrated in the eastern part of the country, at times grew violent, Deutsche Welle (DW), a German broadcaster, reported.

In the town of Bautzen, protesters attacked police with fireworks and threw bottles at them as they tried to break up the crowd, DW reported. At least 10 officers were injured during the melee.

About 15,000 people protested in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, according to DW. Police issued about nine criminal charges to demonstrators, including resisting arrest, inflicting bodily harm, damage to property and using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations.

Eight police officers and several people—including a 4-year-old child—were injured in a protest in the Bavarian town of Schweinfurt, DW reported. Police arrested three protesters, and one other was fined.

Additionally, two men received suspended sentences of 12 and eight months for resisting arrest, assault and bodily harm or attempted bodily harm. A woman received a six-month sentence for resisting arrest and assaulting law enforcement, DW said.

Police also broke up protests in Dresden and Leipzig, according to the broadcaster.

The protests come as the German government implemented new restrictions this month to deal with the Omicron variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than other variants.

Earlier in December, Germany announced limits on private gatherings that were to begin Tuesday. The restriction is intended to limit the number of people holding large gatherings on New Year's Eve, according to DW. A maximum of 10 vaccinated people are allowed to attend a private gathering. If someone who is unvaccinated attends, only one other household can go to the gathering.

"Now is not the time for parties in large groups," Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, according to DW.

Spectators are banned from attending sporting events, cultural shows, concerts and other large events, the broadcaster reported.

German lawmakers have approved a law mandating that medical staff be vaccinated, according to the broadcaster.

German Coronavirus Mandate Protest
Thousands of people protested coronavirus restrictions in Germany on Monday. Above, people at an August demonstration against restrictions in Berlin. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Throughout the pandemic, many Europeans, including Germans, have taken to the streets to protest laws with coronavirus restrictions.

In April, protesters and police clashed in Berlin after lawmakers approved restrictions in areas that had a high number of coronavirus infections. Protesters allegedly threw bottles at police, prompting them to use pepper spray.

Virus cases in Germany reached an all-time high at the end of last month. On November, 30, the nation reported 58,134 new cases—the highest ever reported in Germany, according to The New York Times.