Paris (dpa) – Once again there have been massive protests in France against the tightening of the corona rules. It is already the third weekend in a row that many people are protesting against the mandatory vaccination of health workers and an extension of the coronaproof requirement.
Authorities are expecting about 160,000 protesters across the country on Saturday afternoon, French media said citing police rings. Also last Saturday so many people took to the streets.
Fight against fourth corona wave
France is currently battling a fourth corona wave. Head of state Emmanuel Macron announced the new, stricter hygiene regulations in mid-July in view of the increasing number of infections. Parliament approved the controversial innovations earlier this week after heated debate. The final hurdle will have to be overcome by the new law on Thursday, when the Constitutional Council, convened by Prime Minister Jean Castex, takes a position on the subject of serious criticism.
The vaccination obligation in healthcare and the extension of the obligation to prove a negative corona test, recovery or vaccination do not only have consequences for vaccination opponents and corona deniers. So people from different walks of life joined the demonstrations.
Worries about new “yellow vest” movement
This heterogeneity and the scale of the nationwide protests also fuel fears in France of a new “yellow vest” movement or a revival of their protests. The “Gilets Jaunes” (“yellow vests”) started their demonstrations in 2018 as a regional movement against the rise in petrol prices. Their subjects soon expanded to criticism of the reform policies of the central government and President Macron.
The protests had repeatedly led to destruction and violence, including on the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris. A demonstration of the anti-corona protests in the street on Saturday was accompanied by a significant police presence.
While 160,000 protesters in the middle of the holiday season in France are a respectable number, it remains to be seen whether the protests will continue. The law with the new rules is due to come into effect on August 9, so proof that you’ve visited bars, cafes, restaurants and long-distance train travel will be valid in just over a week. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also said the numbers should be put into perspective. “If I draw a parallel with the four million people who have been vaccinated as a result of the president’s speech, it turns out that the protesters are not the majority,” the newspaper quoted Le Parisien as saying.
In fact, both vaccination registrations and the number of doses injected daily had skyrocketed following Macron’s announcement. About 62 percent of people in France are now vaccinated against the coronavirus at least once. More than half of the residents are fully vaccinated.
Despite this, the health situation remains tense. Most recently, the number of new infections per 100,000 people nationwide within a week was around 214. In some areas, for example on the border with Spain or in the north of Corsica, even stricter rules now apply. In some cases, shops and restaurants have to close earlier and people also have to wear masks outside the home.