Fri, 30 Jul 2021

Huge French protests against mandatory Covid vaccinations

Robert Besser
20 Jul 2021, 02:59 GMT+10

PARIS, France: Over 100,000 people gathered across France on Saturday to protest the government's measures to have people become vaccinated and to slow rising infections of the Covid Delta variant.

In Paris, separate protests by the far-right and the far-left saw participants marching through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in the French cities of Strasbourg, Lille, Montpellier and elsewhere.

Protesters chanted "Macron, clear off!", "Freedom," and banged metal spoons on saucepans.

Of note, Saturday's demonstrations drew a mix of people broadly disaffected with politics, including yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff and royalists.

Among the issues the protesters voiced were the government's decision on Monday to make vaccines mandatory for health care workers, and to require a "health pass" proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus if they wish to enter restaurants and other public locations.

"I will never get vaccinated," said Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councilor who lives on the outskirts of Paris, according to Associated Press. "People need to wake up," he said, questioning the safety of the vaccine.

More than 111,000 Frenchmen have died from Covid and the economy has been significantly damaged.

Meanwhile, Lucien, a 28-year-old retail shop manager, said he thought that the public should be able to do as they please regarding becoming vaccinated. "The government is going too far," he said. His 26-year-old friend Elise added, "I am vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. But the COVID vaccine is just too experimental," according to Associated Press.

In Montpellier, more than 1,000 protesters marched to the train station, chanting "Liberty!" They also displayed signed reading, "Our kids aren't Guinea pigs."

The Interior Ministry said 114,000 people took part in protests nationwide.

Officials note that 36 million Frenchmen have been vaccinated in recent months.

Millions more have been vaccinated or signed up for vaccinations since Monday's announcement.

French health care workers have until September 15 to receive the Covid vaccination.

Also, the requirement for using COVID passes in restaurants, bars, hospitals, shopping malls, trains, planes and other locations is being introduced in stages starting Wednesday.

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