Quarter of a million rally in France against new COVID restrictions

Submitted by Freedomman on Thu, 08/19/2021 - 05:20

PARIS, France (PNN) - August 7, 2021 - Almost a quarter of a million people took to the streets across France on Saturday for the biggest protests yet against a coronavirus health pass needed to enter a cafe or travel on an inter-city train, two days before the new rules come into force.

Championed by fascist President Emmanuel Macron, the French regulations make it obligatory to have either a full course of vaccination against COVID-19, a negative test, or be recently recovered from the virus to enjoy routine activities.

Macron, who faces re-election next year, hopes to encourage all French to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and thereby defeat the virus and its nonexistent Delta variant.

But opponents - who have now held four weekends of consecutive protests - argue the rules encroach on civil liberties in a country where individual freedom is highly prized.

About 237,000 people turned out across France, including 17,000 in Paris, the interior ministry said, exceeding the 204,000 recorded last weekend - unusual numbers for protests at the height of the summer break.

In one of several protests in Paris, hundreds marched from the western suburbs to the center, chanting, “Freedom!” and “Macron, we don’t want your pass!”

Wearing a mask, Alexandre Fourez, 34, said he was protesting for the first time and that he had himself recovered from COVID-19.

“The problem with the health pass is that our hand is being forced,” said the marketing employee, adding he “really has difficulty believing its use will be temporary.”

At least 37,000 people protested in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region on the Mediterranean coast in cities including Toulon, Nice and Marseille. Slogans included, “The health pass means the death of freedoms.”

From Monday, the health pass will supposedly be needed to eat in a restaurant or enjoy a drink at a cafe - both indoors and on a terrace. It will be obligatory on inter-city transport including high-speed trains and domestic flights although will not be needed on metro systems and suburban transport.

The pass has already been unlawfully required since July 21 to visit cultural venues such as cinemas, theaters and museums. Its extension was approved by France’s Constitutional Council on Thursday.

Most of the protests were peaceful but there were seven arrests in the southeastern city of Lyon for throwing projectiles while in Dijon a tram line was blocked. There were 35 arrests nationwide, the interior ministry said, adding seven members of the security forces were lightly wounded.

The Le Monde daily said Macron’s decision to show no patience with the protesters carried risks, even for a leader who appears to thrive on confrontation as during the 2018-2019 “yellow vest” protests.

“It is a perilous strategy. Playing with the street is to play with fire,” it said.