Intelligence services in Germany are monitoring a far-right group calling for an anti-Covid restrictions rally on New Year’s Eve, media reports say. The group ‘Querdenken 711’ is seen as the driving force behind the movement.

Leading German magazine Der Spiegel has reported that the Stuttgart branch of the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution – a state-level security agency in Germany – has placed the group and its offshoots under observation.

Officials are reportedly “alarmed” by the group and its supporters calling for a mass rally against the Covid restrictions in Berlin on New Year’s Eve.

“Querdenken 711” (meaning ‘Lateral Thinking 711’) – based in Stuttgart – is said to have been fueling countrywide protests for months.

In November, police used water cannon and pepper spray to disperse thousands of anti-restrictions protesters in Berlin.

The Interior Ministry and the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution are concerned with the anti-corona movement becoming influenced by right-wing sentiment. Speaking on Wednesday, Interior minister Thomas Strobl said there were “sufficiently weighty indications for extremist efforts” within the movement. 

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile has spoken in support of a ‘tough lockdown’ over the festive period, suggested by the members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Speaking at the Bundestag on Wednesday, she said the country had to do everything it could to avoid exponential growth of infections. Among the suggested measures is the closure of shops after Christmas until at least January 10.

However she also defended her flexible approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, stating that the country avoided “dictatorship”-style restrictions. Germany has used the so-called “lockdown lite,” avoiding a complete shutdown.

The number of Coronavirus-related deaths reached a new high in Germany on Wednesday, with 590 deaths, bringing the total death toll to almost 20,000.

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