Several cities in Rhineland-Palatinate have already banned the unannounced demos against the Corona measures. Now Koblenz is following suit and will ban them from Saturday.
According to the Mayor of Koblenz, David Langner (SPD), a new general decree will come into force on Saturday. It prohibits unannounced protests against the Corona measures, but also all other unannounced gatherings. Properly registered demos are not affected, said Langner at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. The ban was also coordinated with the surrounding municipalities so that the protests cannot simply be relocated.
The general decree in Koblenz initially applies from January 15th to the end of the month, Langner continued. Anyone who violates this must therefore expect imprisonment or a fine. Up to 500 euros are possible.
Koblenz police chief: “We enforce the ban”
The Mayor of Koblenz Ulrike Mohrs (CDU) justified the ban with the current infection situation in the city. The number of people infected with the corona virus is increasing by leaps and bounds and exceeded the number of 1,000 infected people per day for the first time on Thursday. The incidence is currently 462. The ban on unannounced meetings is therefore necessary to protect the health of citizens. And to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
For a long time, the city of Koblenz did nothing against the unannounced corona protests. Now she has banned them from Saturday. It’s about time, comments SWR studio manager Renata Sappert.
According to the information, the ban is based on the Assembly Act (VersG), according to which the competent authority can ban an assembly or an elevator if public safety or order is directly endangered. The Koblenz police chief Karlheinz Maron emphasized that the ban and violations of the hygiene requirements would be enforced – with the determination of personal details, but also with temporary arrests.
Interior Minister Lewentz reacts positively to the ban
The Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) welcomes the ban. Up to 3,000 people recently took part in the unannounced protest events in Koblenz. The Social Democrat also said that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution clearly saw a political interest from the right behind the protests and the influence of right-wing extremist parties and groups. He does not believe that politics will be able to win back the trust of these citizens, who acted politically against the state, in the foreseeable future, said Lewentz.
Unregistered protests for several weeks
For weeks, opponents of the Corona measures have been marching through downtown Koblenz on Mondays and Saturdays in unannounced protests. At first, the city and the police did not intervene, although according to them, participants repeatedly violated the mask and distance rules. They justified this by saying that freedom of assembly is protected by the Basic Law – even if the protests are assemblies that actually have to be registered.
There have been demonstrations in Koblenz against the Corona measures for weeks. Now a cross-party alliance has come together to criticize these protests.
City and authorities have reassessed the situation
However, the city, the police and the public prosecutor initially saw no need for a ban as long as the protests remained peaceful. They came to a different assessment than other municipalities in the country that banned the demos. After the protests last Saturday, the city of Koblenz reassessed the situation.
Criticism of previous actions against corona protests in Koblenz
The actions of the city of Koblenz had recently caused criticism: In a letter to the city and the Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD), for example, at the beginning of January, more than 80 members of parties, environmental organizations and churches criticized what they saw as “too lax” the approach the police. They wanted the city of Koblenz to ban these protests, similar to what the district of Altenkirchen did.
An alliance of opponents of the Corona protests was formed on Tuesday under the motto “Koblenz in solidarity”. This alliance published the so-called “Koblenz Declaration”, in which numerous private individuals, institutions, churches and parties call for opposition to the unregistered demos.