DONE WITH COVID: Thousands of people across France protest new COVID-19 restrictions—CALL FOR IMMEDIATE END

Some 114,000 people have rallied across France over new coronavirus restrictions. The protests were in response to the rollout of Covid-19 certificates and mandatory vaccination plans.

The biggest march in Paris drew about 18,000 people. The protests began in the French capital on Wednesday morning as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade was taking place along the famous Champs-Élysées watched by president Emmanuel Macron. The demonstrators are unhappy at the decision announced on Monday to make vaccines for health workers mandatory and to bring in a vaccine health pass for most public places.

Unvaccinated people would require, for example, a negative test result to enter restaurants or nightclubs. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is presenting a draft law on Monday to enshrine the measures. During a visit to a pop-up vaccination center in the southwest, Prime Minister Jean Castex exhorted the French to stick together in order to overcome the crisis. “There is only one solution: vaccination,” he said, stressing it “protects us, and will make us freer.”

“I will never get vaccinated,” Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councilor who lives on the outskirts of Paris. “People need to wake up,” he said, questioning the safety of the vaccine. While France already requires several vaccinations to enter public school, Auquier pledged to take his two children out of school if the coronavirus vaccine became mandatory. “These new measures are the last straw,” Auquier said.

At the Paris protest, a manual worker in his sixties expressed bitterness about jobs in his sector sent offshore. A 24-year-old royalist said he was there to demand “the return of God and the King.” Lucien, a 28-year-old retail shop manager, said he wasn’t anti-vaccine, but thought that everyone should be able to do as they please with their own body. “The government is going too far,” he said. His 26-year-old friend Elise said, “I am vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. But the COVID vaccine is just too experimental.”

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