People in France have taken to the streets to protest against the government’s decision to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for health workers and to introduce a health pass to access bars and restaurants.
Protests took place across France on Wednesday with heated clashes erupting with police in Paris. A number of groups, including those associated with the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement, announced their intention to hold demonstrations across the country on Tuesday following the government’s announcement of compulsory vaccinations for health workers and the introduction of a national Covid-19 passport.
🔴Plusieurs tirs de gaz lacrymogènes pour stopper la manifestation sauvage contre le #PassSanitaire.#Paris#14Juillet#COVID19pic.twitter.com/656h9aEyDz
In Paris, eyewitness footage captured people fleeing from tear gas as police were deployed in sizable numbers to break up the demonstrations. Major city arteries could be seen blocked by protesters and police. In one instance, a canister of tear gas landed near a restaurant terrace, causing diners to scarper inside.
Charge et gaz lacrymogènes pour disperser les manifestants contre le #PassSanitaire.Un cortège déclaré se forme au départ de la Place de Clichy. #PassSanitaire#VaccinObligatoirepic.twitter.com/Nr3jTqualm
Évacuation des terrasses de café après l’utilisation de gaz lacrymogènes. #PassSanitaire#VaccinObligatoirepic.twitter.com/P7d2LEQUvq
Smaller protests took place elsewhere in the city, with some groups convening at Place de Clichy. Demonstrators could be heard banging drums and chanting in footage shared on social media.
Place de Clichy #14juillet#PassSanitaire#PassDeLaHonte#VaccinObligatoire#GiletsJaunes#Révolution#manifestation#parispic.twitter.com/1a28ZdUCpU
Some of the protesters adopted unusual garb as part of their demonstrations, including one participant who dressed as Jesus and bore a large cross for the march.
🔴Plusieurs centaines de personnes à la manifestation contre le #PassSanitaire à #Paris. Celle-ci est partie de la Place de Clichy jusqu’à la Place de la République. #14Juilletpic.twitter.com/AX4xyawcgJ
Demonstrations were also held in Corsica, where people gathered to denounce what they decried as an attack on individual freedoms, demanding the right to “own their choice” over Covid-19 vaccinations.
Meanwhile, online reports said that more than 1,000 people marched in the southern French city of Perpignan.
On Monday evening, President Emmanuel Macron announced that vaccines would become mandatory for healthcare workers in France from September 15. Those who haven’t been fully vaccinated by this date face losing their jobs.
Macron also announced that the authorities would launch a health pass, proving that the holder has either tested negative, is fully vaccinated, or recently recovered from Covid-19. The pass will go live in August and will be used to verify status on entry to bars, restaurants, cafes and shopping centers.
Wednesday’s protests occurred as the country celebrates Bastille Day, commemorating the storming of a medieval armory, fortress and political prison during the French Revolution. Festivities and the usual parade have been overshadowed by the protests, as well as being dampened by poor weather.
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