Police in Berlin have clashed with protesters outside the German parliament, which is considering a bill to give Chancellor Angela Merkel the power to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions as the nation suffers a third wave of coronavirus infections.Several thousand protesters, many without masks, gathered in central Berlin Wednesday, waving flags and placards. Police clashed with protesters resulting in scuffles and arrests.A police spokesman said officers had to break up the protest because people were not wearing masks or keeping a minimum safe distance. He said about 60 people were detained, and while police had to use pepper spray against other demonstrators who threw bottles and tried to climb over barriers, the spokesman said acts of violence were minimal.Many of the protesters waved German flags and banners saying coronavirus lockdowns undermine values enshrined in the constitution. Many Germans are sensitive to any measures they perceive as threatening their freedom because of the country’s Nazi and Communist past. Demonstrations against the proposed legislation have been staged in the last few weeks in towns across the country.Under the bill, Merkel’s government could impose tough measures including sweeping shutdowns and overnight curfews in regions with more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days.It also could force schools to revert to virtual teaching in states where the infection rate exceeds 165 — a tighter requirement than the 200 contained in an earlier draft of the law.Only one state had an incidence rate below 100 Wednesday, while seven topped 165 — including the two most populous, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. 

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