Police in Paris have once again clashed with protesters angry at President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to require a Covid-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas from next month.
This week Mr Macron announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in new coronavirus infections, including the mandatory vaccination of health workers and new health pass rules for the general public. By doing so, he went further than most other European nations have done, as the highly contagious Delta variant fuels a new wave of cases. Other EU governments are watching carefully to see how the people of France respond.
The police fired tear gas on pockets of protesters who overturned waste bins and set fire to a mechanical digger. Some protesters away from the fighting wore badges saying “No to the health pass”.
Critics of Macron’s plan – which will require shopping malls, cafés, bars and restaurants to check the health passes of all customers from August – accuse the president of riding rough-shod on freedoms and discriminating against those who do not want a Covid vaccination. Among other proposals in the government’s draft bill is the mandatory 10-day isolation for anyone who tests positive, while police will be authorised to make random checks.
Mr Macron is promoting the vaccine as the best way to put France back on the road to recovery and is on a major drive to get more French citizens to grab a jab. The vaccination uptake across France is one of the lowest in Europe.
Protests were also staged in other cities including Nantes, Marseille and Montpellier.