SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 3 December 2021, Friday |

COVID: Hundreds gather in Paris to protest over new Austria restrictions

Several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Austrian Embassy in Paris on Thursday to protest Austria’s new COVID-19 limitations, fearing that France might be the next country to re-impose restrictions aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.

The demonstration, which went ahead without incident, was organized by far-right lawmaker Florian Philippot, who has been at the forefront of French protests against the COVID-19 health card and vaccination certificate, which are required for many daily activities.

Europe has once again become the epicenter of the pandemic, leading several governments to reimpose restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and igniting debate about whether immunizations alone are sufficient to combat COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against COVID-19.

However, pressure on Austria’s government to impose a full COVID-19 lockdown grew on Thursday as its worst-hit provinces said they would adopt the measure for themselves since infections are still rising despite the current lockdown for the unvaccinated.

An Elabe opinion poll published in French media on Thursday said around 60 percent of those surveyed backed a new COVID lockdown in France for those not fully vaccinated against the virus.

Yet those protesting outside the Austrian Embassy in Paris said such measures would be discriminatory, and they feared President Emmanuel Macron’s government could take similar steps.

“What is happening in Austria is very, very concerning,” said Martine Cirasa, a 43-year old languages teacher.

“First up, we need to support the Austrian people. I think, we are plumbing the very depths of horror, in terms of what is being proposed, plumbing the very depths of discrimination, and obviously we are afraid that this will happen in France,” she added.

Her views were echoed by 64-year old former soldier Pierre-Louis, who was also at the demonstration.

Earlier this week, Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions, mandating wider use of masks and enforcing working from home.

Germany’s chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz on Thursday also warned the country must prepare for tough measures in coming months to tackle a new wave of COVID infections.