Amidst the rising cases of Wuhan Coronavirus in France and the possibility of an upcoming fourth wave, President Emmanuel Macron had introduced stricter protocols in the country. The new rules varied from mandatory vaccination of health workers and requirement of health passes for accessing public places. While accusing the French government of violating the freedom of people, a large group of anti-vaxxers unleashed violence on the streets of France.
On Friday (July 16), a vaccination centre in Lans-en-Vercors near Grenoble was destroyed and flooded with fire hoses. Another site in Urrugne village near Biarritz was partially vandalised on Saturday in an arson attack. More than 100,000 people protested across the country against the new Covid-19 rules.
During one such demonstration in Paris, French politician and vaccine skeptic Martine Wonner incited protestors to lay siege on lawmakers who supported the new Coronavirus protocols. Due to her inciteful speech, she was forced to resign from her opposition group in Parliament.
HAPPENING: Massive demonstration on the streets of Paris against the newly annoncier French vaccine passport. Protesters chanting “freedom” and calling for the resignation of President Macron. pic.twitter.com/TvoIyKALGI
— Election Wizard (@ElectionWiz) July 17, 2021
The demonstrators, demanding a roll-back of the new Covid-protocols, were seen flouting social distancing guidelines.
FRANCE protests continued today because people aren’t thrilled about requiring a vaccine passport to be allowed to return to normal daily life. (video via https://t.co/EzqceajmiS) pic.twitter.com/hoFgWFA1aP
— crabcrawler (@crabcrawler1) July 17, 2021
The frenzied mob tried to break through police barricades and got tear gas shells fired in return.
Protesters in Besançon, France try to break a police line and get teargassed.
Protests are happening in 129 municipalities across France against the governments mandatory vaccines and vaccine passes.pic.twitter.com/Ndq9AbKaBi
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) July 17, 2021
Earlier on Wednesday, a scuffle broke out between demonstrators, chanting ‘liberty’ against the mandatory requirement for health passes, and the police.
NOW – People chanting “Liberté” in Paris as they protest against mandatory vaccinations of health care workers and vaccination passports on Bastille Day (#14Juillet), a national holiday in France.pic.twitter.com/YrP4l0tXwy
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) July 14, 2021
Nevertheless, around 137 marches were conducted in the country and about 18000 protestors took part in marches across Paris alone. Among the demonstrators were yellow-vest protestors who had been seeking to revive the widespread anti-government movement in the country. The police had to resort to firing tear gas shells to disperse the large mobs. While speaking about the violence, a protestor named Chrystelle said, “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.”
Vaccine hesitancy and rising Coronavirus cases in France
It is important to note that there is a large-scale vaccine hesitancy in the country. A survey conducted last year found that only 40% of people intended to get a Coronavirus shot. Meanwhile, French PM Jean Castex emphasised that vaccination was the only way to fight the deadly 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…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,” he added.
France has so far witnessed 1,11,000 Coronavirus-related deaths, which has negatively impacted its economy. With the outbreak of the delta variant, there has been a surge in hospital admissions in the country. The French government’s plans to contain the pandemic had backfired amidst the rising violence and vandalism in several parts of the country. However, thousands of people have also signed up for vaccine appointments. As of July 17, about 55.5% of people received a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while about 44.8% of French citizens were fully vaccinated.