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French protests call for 'freedom' amid government vaccine push

CoronavirusJul 17, 2021 06:26PM ET
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5/5 © Reuters. Demonstrators walk past Pyramide du Louvre during a protest against the new measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Paris, France, July 17, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 2/5

PARIS (Reuters) -More than a hundred thousand people marched across France on Saturday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to force vaccination of health workers and require a COVID-19 free certificate to enter places such as restaurants and cinemas.

Macron this week announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in coronavirus infections, which protesters say infringe the freedom of choice of those who do not want the vaccination.

The interior ministry said 137 marches took place across the country, gathering nearly 114,000 people, of which 18,000 were in Paris.

The measures had already prompted smaller demonstrations earlier this week, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse protesters.

"Everyone is sovereign in his own body. In no way does a president of the Republic have the right to decide on my individual health," said one protester in Paris who identified herself as Chrystelle.

Marches also included "yellow vest" protesters seeking to revive the anti-government movement curbed by coronavirus lockdowns.

Visiting a centre 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.

Fast-spreading variants of the virus risk undermining economic recovery if allowed to spiral out of control, forcing some governments to rethink their COVID-19 strategies just as citizens start their summer holidays.

Earlier on Saturday Castex's office said France would reinforce restrictions on unvaccinated travellers from a series of countries to counter a rebound in COVID-19 infections, while opening its doors to those who have received all their shots.

"The Delta variant is here, we must not hide the truth, it is more contagious than the previous ones. We must adapt and face it", Castex told reporters in southwestern France, referring to the variant first identified in India.

After falling from more than 42,000 per day in mid-April to less than 2,000 per day in late June, the average number of new infections in France has rebounded to reach nearly 11,000 per day.

Some 55.5% of the French had had a single dose of a vaccine as of Saturday and 44.8% were fully inoculated.

French protests call for 'freedom' amid government vaccine push
 

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Comments (5)
Honey Badger
Honey Badger Jul 17, 2021 6:00PM ET
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Fully Vaccinated Democrat officials get Covid proving the vaccine they are promoting is no better than water from Okechobee river.
Leonard Kong
Leonard Kong Jul 17, 2021 12:27PM ET
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get the vaccine and get on with your life
Ivan Lazo
Ivan Lazo Jul 17, 2021 12:27PM ET
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My body my choice, right?
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Jul 17, 2021 12:12PM ET
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By placing quotes around the word ‘freedom’ in the title, Reuters shows own true colors one more time.
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Jul 17, 2021 12:12PM ET
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Benjamin McIntire  It is not a quote, don’t be a hypocrite.
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Jul 17, 2021 11:51AM ET
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Individual freedom is worth more than public interest in enforcing  health-based  standards. Make it opposite and society goes on the way to concentration camps.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jul 17, 2021 11:22AM ET
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Simple solution: health insurance dont pay for medical cost if one refuse vaccines n get sick from the virus.
Robert Brandau
Robert Brandau Jul 17, 2021 11:22AM ET
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spoken like a good Nazi
Forex Harbingers
Forex Harbingers Jul 17, 2021 11:22AM ET
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How very totalitarian of you. Supreme leader.
David David
David9 Jul 17, 2021 11:22AM ET
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It doesn't work like that...
 
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