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Germany between summer elation and viral risks

June 20, 2021

Thousands of "partygoers" gathered in Hamburg, Augsburg and other cities to enjoy the warm weather, despite warnings about coronavirus restrictions.

Police stand in a line in a street in Augsburg
Image: Andreas Herz/dpa/picture alliance

Police in the northern port of Hamburg early Sunday cleared a city park where up to 7,000 people had gathered in defiance of anti-coronavirus rules.

Officers said they dispersed the crowd after the mood turned agressive, with some revelers throwing bottles and lighting fireworks. However, the scene was calmer than another party they were called to break up one night earlier.

Police in the southern city of Augsburg, meanwhile, said they faced insults, 200 thrown bottles and even spitting, as they moved to disperse around 1,500 partygoers shortly after midnight.

A line of police stands in Augsburg's city center where hundreds of revelers congregated
Hundreds of revelers congregated in Augsburg's city center overnightImage: Andreas Herz/dpa/picture alliance

In Freiburg, police clashed with hundreds of revelers in a central square.

The large inner-city gatherings came amid a heat wave and after Germany's 4-2 win over Portugal in the Euro football championship.

In all three cities, police said, increasingly drunken participants became aggressive, and several officers were injured. 

Officers in Augsburg were even spat in the face while arresting two "partygoers" and needed until 3:30 a.m. to disperse 200-300 "rabble-rousing" persons, assisted by police reinforcements.

Augsburg Mayor Eva Weber on Sunday accused a "minority" of "traveling rioters" who she said had come from other cities intent on "escalating" unrest against authorities. 

Police approach a crowd of revelers on a field in Hamburg
The warm temperatures also brought thousands of people outside to celebrate in HamburgImage: Jonas Walzberg/dpa/picture alliance

Parties elsewhere

Unregistered outdoor parties overnight were also cited by authorities in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Brandenburg states, while in Munich, host of Saturday's football match, several streets were cleared of otherwise "cooperative" revelers.

Bavarian State Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told Germany's DFB football federation as game host that it must persuade spectators — some sighted unmasked at Saturday's match — to wear FFP2 medical masks at next Wednesday's Hungary-Germany Euros series encounter.

"The DFB is now conclusively called upon to plausibly explain how it will implement and enforce the mask rules at the next match on Wednesday," said Holetschek, insisting that anti-coronavirus safeguards remained in force.

Beyond the stadium Saturday, Munich's beer gardens and pub forecourts were reportedly packed with revelers, prompting Bavaria's government Sunday to also call on Munich as communal regulatory authority to reassess public viewing.

"The Ministry of Health will consult with the city of Munich on Monday, to what extent the requirements for public viewing can be further tightened," said a Bavarian Health Ministry spokesman.

Canal boats carrying protesting affiliates of Berlin's club and disco scene
Berlin's club scene protesting against rules requiring negative tests for outdoor dancingImage: Jörg Carstensen/dpa/picture alliance

While Bavaria's hoteliers' federation called on Sunday for clubs and discos to be allowed to reopen given falling infection rates across the country, members of Berlin's so-called party-and-club-scene navigated the capital's canals on boats demanding that anti-coronavirus rules be eased for them too.

Heat wave tragedy

Germany's outdoor turnouts, prompted by scorching summer temperatures, were overshadowed by several drownings as residents flocked to bathing spots.

Near Mannheim, a rescue diver pulled an 8-year-old girl from a lake on Saturday. She later died in a clinic.

A boy rows in a boat on Partwitzer Lake
Partwitzer Lake, once a coal pit between Brandenburg and Saxony states Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Pleul

Later that same day, emergency crews searched for a 9-year-old girl missing in the River Elbe near Elmshorn in Schleswig-Holstein state.

Germany's DLRG lifesaving association highlighted Brandenburg state (outlying Berlin) with its numerous lakes as particularly vulnerable, citing the pandemic's months-long interruption of swimming lessons.