Study: 30 per cent of Germans think coronavirus crisis overblown

Thirty per cent of people in Germany think the government is making the coronavirus crisis out to be worse than it actually is, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Two thousand people were interviewed in July as part of the survey for the nonpartisan organization More in Common, the results of which comes at a time of deep divisions over the country’s approach to the pandemic.

Nonetheless, the government’s handling of the situation scored well, with 70 per cent of people regarding its coronavirus policies as “more democratic than undemocratic, more fair than unfair, more competent than incompetent,” the study found.

The research underpinned tensions seen in the country, as tens of thousands of people recently took to the streets in Berlin to protest against mask rules and other restrictions designed to prevent infections.

In 2019, a majority of respondents were willing to compromise with people of a different opinion, but during the current crisis that figure has slipped to 45 per cent, More in Common said.

Mass rallies took place in the German capital on August 1 and again last Saturday, causing controversy because many participants did not wear masks or maintain the required distance from each other. Police had to intervene to break up the gatherings in some cases.

On Tuesday, the city government in Berlin agreed to new rules that will make masks mandatory at public gatherings of more than 100 people.

The initiative that put on the rallies is planning its next event in the south-western city of Konstanz on October 3, a leader of the movement said on Wednesday.

A demonstration is not planned in Berlin, Michael Ballweg of the Stuttgart-based group Querdenken 711 (Lateral Thinking 711) told the Deutschlandfunk broadcaster.

Ballweg said the change in location was not in response to Berlin’s new mask rules, which come into effect on Saturday.

The protests have also been criticized for containing right-wing extremist elements, including groups of self-declared Reichsbuerger (Reich citizens), who deny the legitimacy of the modern-day German state.

In an interview with the capital’s RBB broadcaster late Tuesday, Ballweg rejected criticism that the movement was being utilized by extremists. “I saw no right-wing extremists,” he said.

Germany’s coronavirus caseload has risen over the past couple of months as restrictions have been lifted and international travel relaunched over the summer.

As of Wednesday, 244,855 cases have been confirmed, up by 1,256 from the previous day, the Robert Koch Institute for disease control said, adding that 9,313 have died after catching the virus.

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