thousands marched France To oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s plans for compulsory vaccination health worker And to prove to the members of the public that they are COVID-free to enter places like bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Mr Macron announces sweeping measures to fight rapid boom this week coronavirus infections, which protesters say infringe on the freedom of choice of those who do not want to be vaccinated.
The measures had already prompted demonstrations earlier this week, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse protesters.
“Everyone is sovereign in his own body. In no way does the president of the republic have the authority to decide on my personal health,” said one protester in Paris, who identified himself as Christel.
The march, which took place in France’s biggest cities such as Marseille, Lyon and Lille, as well as several smaller centres, also included “yellow vest” protesters demanding a revival of the anti-government movement hit by the coronavirus lockdown .
Visiting a center in Anglet in southwestern France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said vaccination, which is not yet mandatory for the general public, is the only way to fight the virus.
“I hear about the reluctance, but I think we should at all costs persuade all our fellow citizens to get vaccinated, it is the best way to deal with this health crisis,” Mr Castex said.
Despite the strength of the protests, an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll released on Friday found that more than 60% of French people agree with mandatory vaccinations for health workers, as well as the need for health passes in some public places.
Fast-spreading variants of the virus run the risk of curtailing economic recovery if some governments are forced to rethink their COVID-19 strategies, as citizens begin their summer holidays.
Earlier on Saturday Mr Castex’s office said France would tighten restrictions on unaffiliated travelers from a range of countries to counter a rebound in COVID-19 infections, while opening its doors to all those receiving shots .
“The delta version is here, we must not hide the truth, it is more contagious than the previous one. We must adapt and face it”, Castex told reporters in south-western France, a first in India Referring to the identified variant.
The average number of new infections in France has reached around 11,000 per day, falling from more than 42,000 per day in mid-April to less than 2,000 per day at the end of June.
Some 55.1% of the French had a single dose of a vaccine by Friday and 44.2% were fully vaccinated – not enough to stop the spread of the virus.
Additional reporting by lbl