Several thousands of people assembled in major cities in France to raise their voices against the COVID-19 policies that had been recently announced by the government.
Namely, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed that, in addition to the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers announced earlier, the government plans to restrict access to public places such as restaurants, malls, and cultural events only to vaccinated people.
The President explained that the moves come as a way to address the rise in infections and hospitalizations expected to arrive as a result of the spread of more transmissible delta variant.
Macron pointed out that more vaccinated people would be required to prevent the spread of the virus.
Yet, many people expressed their dissatisfaction with Macron’s policies, mainly viewing them as an infringement of personal freedoms.
Some of them even went as far as to describe the French government as a “dictatorship.”
In Paris, several hundred people marched from Place de la République.
While on their way, they sang “liberte” (a French word for freedom).
Some of the protesters from the French capital wore badges saying “no to the health pass.”
The rioters were especially angry about the mandatory vaccination imposed upon French healthcare workers.
In another big French city, Lyon, a smaller protest saw around 1,400 people, mostly young.
The protests even provoked police to use tear gas as a response to the use of projectiles by the protesters.
Smaller protests occurred in other cities, such as Marseille, Toulouse, Montpeiller, Rouen, Annecy, and Perpignan.
The Toulouse protest was mainly attended by “Yellow Vests” supporters, while a group of between 150 and 200 rioters managed to enter the city hall in Annecy without causing any material damage.
Government’s next steps
Regardless of the protests, French officials are seemingly determined to act upon their policies.
Gérald Darmanin, French Interior Minister, strongly condemned the Annecy incident on his Twitter account, while national academies of France issued a joint statement supporting the measures.
They said that the limits of individual freedom exist at the point of danger it may pose to others, such as in the case of refusal to take the vaccine.
It seems that the fear of a new wave of COVID-19 infections would outstrip any government’s concerns about individual choice.
Given that experts across the world tend to agree about the dangers associated with the spread of delta variant, it is likely that other countries across the world would see measures similar to the ones proposed in France.
One of such countries is Greece, which, facing the rise in COVID-19 infections, decided to restrict access to venues such as restaurants only to vaccinated people and impose mandatory vaccination on healthcare workers.