| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

French protests call for ‘freedom’ amid government vaccine push

On Saturday, more than a hundred thousand people marched throughout France to oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to require a COVID-19 free certificate to enter facilities including restaurants and theatres.

Macron announced sweeping steps this week to combat a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, which demonstrators argue infringe on people’s right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated.

According to the interior ministry, 137 marches were held around the country, drawing approximately 114,000 participants, with 18,000 in Paris.

Smaller protests erupted earlier this week in response to the measures, prompting police to use tear gas to disperse protestors.

“In his own body, everyone is sovereign. A President of the Republic has no right to decide on my personal health in any way “Chrystelle, a Parisian protester, said as much.

Protesters wearing “yellow vests” sought to resurrect the antigovernmental movement that had been stifled by coronavirus lockdowns.

Visiting a center in Anglet in southwestern France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said vaccination, which is not mandatory for the general public for now, is the only way to fight the virus.

“I hear the reluctance that arises but I think that we must at all costs convince all our fellow citizens to be vaccinated, it is the best way to cope to this health crisis,” Castex said.

Despite the strength of the protests, an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll released on Friday found more than 60% of French people agree with mandatory vaccination for health workers, as well as a requirement for a health pass in some public places.

If allowed to spiral out of control, fast-spreading strains of the virus threaten damaging economic recovery, pushing some governments to reassess their COVID-19 tactics just as populations begin their summer vacations.

Castex’s office stated earlier on Saturday that in order to combat a rebound in COVID-19 infections, France would tighten restrictions on unvaccinated travelers from a number of countries, while welcoming those who had obtained all of their vaccinations.

“The Delta variety has arrived; we must not conceal the fact that it is more contagious than the others. We must adapt and face the situation “Castex said reporters in southwestern France about the variation that was initially discovered in India.

The average number of new infections in France has recovered to nearly 11,000 per day after declining from more than 42,000 per day in mid-April to less than 2,000 per day in late June.

As of Saturday, 55.5 percent of French people had received a single dose of vaccination and 44.8 percent had been fully immunized.

  • Reuters