Paris in flames as protesters fight new Covid pass and vaccine laws

French take to the streets to protest against Macron’s new law insisting that all health workers get jabs and requiring new Covid pass for anyone over 12 going to a restaurant

  • Hundreds of protesters chanting ‘Liberty!’ marched through Paris to rebel against Macron’s controversial plan
  • The demonstrations turned ugly when activists clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas into the crowds 
  • In August, those wanting to visit bars or restaurants will need to show proof of their vaccine or a negative test
  • By September, healthcare workers face a mandatory vaccination scheme and could be sacked if they refuse 
  • Organisers had dubbed today an ‘optimistic Bastille Day’ – marking 1789’s ‘birth’ of the French Revolution

French cafe owners, hospital workers and parents are pushing back against Emmanuel Macron’s decision to instate a Covid pass for anyone over 12 visiting a restaurant and requiring all healthcare workers in the country get vaccinated.

Hundreds of protesters, chanting ‘Liberty! Liberty!’ took to the French capital on Bastille Day to rebel against President Macron’s controversial plans that were introduced this week in an attempt to tackle the nation’s surging coronavirus cases.

Large crowds were confronted by riot police, who fired tear gas to try to disperse the advancing group. Protesters and police kicked the tear gas canisters at each other, and cyclists calmly weaved through the crowd.

Some of those protesting set a mechanical digger alight and flipped rubbish containers, while others wore badges that refuted the new measures: ‘No to health passes’.  

In April, President Macron has promised vaccine passports would ‘never be used to divide’ the French. But, by mid-July, the French premier is demanding concerts, hospitality venues and more to check for proof of vaccination status or a negative PCR test in a bid to boost the nation’s vaccination rates. 

Restrictions will expand by August, meaning those wanting a beer in a bar, families going out for dinner, public transport passengers and visiting relatives in care homes will all require proof of a negative test or vaccine. 

On September 15, it will become mandatory for healthcare workers and carers to receive a coronavirus vaccine – with threats of termination of employment should they refuse.

Hundreds of protesters chanting ‘Liberty!’ marched through Paris to rebel against Emmanuel Macron’s controversial plans

The demonstrations turned ugly when activists clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas into the crowds. Pictured: A masked demonstrator kicks back a gas canister in central Paris

Many doctors and scientists had been urging Macron to instill tougher measures to contain the virus.

He appears to have heeded their advice, and the ‘pass sanitaire’ – a written record or application that shows proof of a negative PCR test or a person’s vaccination status – was born.  

Speaking in an address earlier this week, Mr Macron said: ‘If we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase.’

While vaccines will not be mandatory for those working outside of the healthcare sector, Macron added it was a choice of ‘individual responsibility… but also a matter of freedom’. 

But critics have slammed the French president for stripping parts of the population of their free will and accuse him of singling out those who refuse to vaccine.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against the new measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron

A French police officer helps a woman with a dog during the demonstrations that kicked off on Bastille Day

A man wearing large goggles holds a French national flag as he takes part in a march in central Paris on July 14, 2021

Organizers of this year’s parade dubbed it an ‘optimistic Bastille Day’ aimed at ‘winning the future’ and ‘celebrating a France standing together behind the tricolor (flag) to emerge from the pandemic.’ 

While that optimism was widely felt in France a few weeks ago, clouds have returned to the national mood as the delta variant fuels new infections.

Last year’s parade was canceled and replaced by a static ceremony honoring health care workers who died fighting COVID-19. France has lost more than 111,000 lives overall to the pandemic.  

Pictures showed mechanical equipment ablaze in the streets of Paris and protesters clashing violently with riot police in the city’s centre and eastern areas. 

Leading Wednesday’s parade were members of a European force fighting extremists in Mali and the surrounding Sahel region. 

Macron announced last week that France is pulling at least 2,000 troops from the region because of evolving threats, and focusing more efforts on the multi-national Takuba force instead.

French cafe owners, hospital workers and parents are pushing back against Emmanuel Macron’s decision to instate a Covid pass for anyone over 12 visiting a restaurant and requiring all healthcare workers in the country get vaccinated

Riot police face off against demonstrators in central Paris during a large protest against a governmental decision to impose Covid-19 tests for unvaccinated people who want to eat in restaurants

The demonstrators, some wearing masks, set-up large barricades in central Paris to prevent police access

Among others honored at the parade were military medics who have shuttled vaccines to France’s overseas territories, treated virus patients or otherwise helped fight the pandemic.

Mirage and Rafale fighter jets thundered past in formation. 

In the final moments of the parade, two horses stumbled, throwing their Republican Guard riders onto the pavement. The guards quickly brought the horses under control and led them away.

Just before the ceremony, a soldier identified as Maximilien proposed to his girlfriend in a picturesque moment on the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, earning a round of hearty applause.

Macron and his wife Brigitte spoke at length after the ceremony with families of troops killed or wounded in the line of duty. 

On the eve of the event, Macron reiterated his push for greater defense cooperation among European countries, and greater global defense efforts against Islamic extremists.

‘This moment of conviviality, of reunion… is first and foremost for us the opportunity to address our brothers in arms and their families, and give them a message of gratitude,’ Macron said.

Wednesday, July 14 is recognised as ‘Bastille Day’ in France and marks the storming of the Bastille prison in eastern Paris on the same date in 1789, which is commemorated as the birth of the French Revolution. 

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