Protest against the new COVID-19 measures, in Paris. Source: Reuters
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  • More than a hundred thousand people take to the streets in France to protest the French government’s latest COVID-19 vaccine push
  • Several demonstrations have taken place over the week, peaking on Saturday as 114,000 people marched in 137 different protests
  • The protests come amid a new wave of COVID-19 rules that will see vaccines mandatory for health workers by mid-September
  • Further, the general public in France will need to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants and cinemas
  • President Emmanuel Macron announced the measures last week as France battles a fresh wave of coronavirus infections

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in France on the weekend to protest the French government’s latest COVID-19 vaccine push.

Last week, President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures which would force health workers to get coronavirus jabs and require people to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter places like restaurants, cinemas, and trains.

The fresh measures come as France battles a new surge of infections. President Macron said while the new rules aren’t making vaccines compulsory for the general public, the restrictions focus primarily on those who are unvaccinated.

He said all health workers will need to have had their second dose by mid-September, though he did not specify how the government would ensure that this happens or what sort of controls would be in place to impose the rules.

The announcement prompted a string of protests and demonstrations across France over the week, amounting to mass demonstrations on Saturday as over 137 marches took place across the country.

It’s estimated that around 114,000 people protested the new wave of restrictions, which they say is an infringement on the freedom of choice of those who don’t want the jab. Roughly 18,000 people gathered in Paris alone.

Protestors chanted “freedom” as they marched down the streets, holdings signs saying “no to the health passport”, “liberate France”, and other similar messages.

While the demonstrations peaked on the weekend, several smaller protests took place throughout the week, with some resulting in the use of tear gas from police to disperse demonstrators.

Ipsos: Majority supports the measures

Interestingly, despite the protests over the past week, a survey from Ipsos-Sopra Steria found that six out of ten French people support mandatory vaccination for health workers.

Similarly, 69 per cent of people are in favour of mandatory vaccines for those in frequent contact with elderly or fragile people, while 63 per cent support the vaccine passport.

It should be noted that the survey interviewed 1000 French people over the age of 18 over July 13 and July 14. France’s has a population of over 67 million people.

As it stands, around 55.5 per cent of France’s population had had their first vaccine dose as of Saturday, with just shy of 45 per cent of the country fully inoculated against COVID-19.

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