Amid angry protests in France over the new COVID rules, which make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare staff and require vaccine licenses for pubs and restaurants, participants were tear-gassed by police.
Some of the demonstrations started early morning on Wednesday, July 14 in Paris, when President Emmanuel Macron was watching the yearly military parade for the traditional Bastille Day celebration down the Champs-Elysees.
Demonstrators were recorded on video footage shared on social networks firing pyrotechnics at police as the protests continued till Wednesday night.
Hundreds of cafe owners, health employees and parents marched through Paris on Bastille Day, yelling “Liberty! Liberty!” in protest of President Macron’s contentious proposals to combat the country’s soaring coronavirus infections, which were announced earlier this week.
Riot cops met large groups with tear gas in an attempt to disband them. Demonstrators and police later tossed tear gas canisters at each other. Some protesters donned badges that said, ‘No to health passes’ and others set fire to a motorized digger and toppled garbage cans. In the city’s center and eastern areas, mechanical equipment was set alight in the streets, and protestors clashed fiercely with riot police.
Citizens were protesting the government’s announcement on Monday, July 12 that requires all health staff to be inoculated, and citizens will need to present a vaccine health pass to access several public areas. A negative test result would be required for those who have not been immunized.
Some of the demonstrators shouted, “This is in the name of freedom.” Opponents also chanted, “Down with dictatorship,” and “Down with the health pass.”
“Macron plays on fears, it’s revolting. I know people who will now get vaccinated just so that they can take their children to the movies, not to protect others from serious forms of COVID,” a 29 year-old notary’s clerk from the Berry area of central France Yann Fontaine said, adding that the health pass amounted to “segregation.”
Around 2,250 people demonstrated in Paris, with similar protests taking place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nantes, and other areas. The overall number of demonstrators, according to the French authorities, is estimated to be around 19,000. There were 53 distinct rallies around France, said the ministry of interior.
“I have a hard time understanding, in a country where 11 vaccines are already mandatory … that this could be seen as a dictatorship,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said then, adding that “the time of doubting is long past” following a year of research on the immunizations.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday, July 12, that all healthcare workers, be they nurses, doctors, etc., will have to be vaccinated against COVID (CCP) Virus by September 15. Anyone over the age of 12 who wants to leave their home, whether to have a coffee, sit down for a meal or go to the cinema, will have to provide proof of having been vaccinated or at least not being infected.
Nevertheless, others have criticized the president for robbing people of their right to choose and of discriminating against individuals who decline to be vaccinated.
Vaccine passports would ‘never be used to divide’ the French, president Macron guaranteed in April.