Bastille Day: France honors health workers during a pandemic

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Media captionJuly 14 celebrated under blockade

France honors its health workers during small-scale events to mark the national holiday of July 14, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities canceled the traditional military parade but paid tribute to those who attacked the virus.

The invited audience included families of French workers who died from Covid-19.

The annual events mark the capture of Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, considered to be the start of the French Revolution.

It is the first time that officials have canceled the annual military parade in the capital Paris since the end of the Second World War in 1945.

President Emmanuel Macron gave a rare television interview after the morning ceremonies, during which he answered questions about the coronavirus pandemic and the state of the economy.

How is France celebrating?

About 2,000 French soldiers gathered for a ceremony on Place de la Concorde.

It started with a tribute to General Charles de Gaulle, who 80 years ago called on France to resist the Nazi German occupation in a BBC radio speech in London.

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Although there was no parade on the Champs-Elysées, the troops honored all those mobilized to fight the coronavirus epidemic – including health workers and the armed forces.

This comes the day after the French government agreed to pay increases worth 8 billion euros (£ 7.2 billion; $ 9 billion) for French health workers.

A traditional overflight included military aircraft as well as a transport aircraft used to transport Covid-19 patients at the height of the pandemic in France.

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Getty Images

Legend

Military planes flew over Paris to mark the occasion


Image copyright
Reuters

Legend

About 2,000 soldiers participate in the ceremony


Some 2,500 specially invited spectators – including the families of health workers who died during the pandemic – watched the events from socially distant headquarters.

Officials from four countries who welcomed French patients – Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland – were also invited to watch.

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The events were closed to the public, even though they were televised. Many areas of Paris have been closed to prevent crowds from gathering.

A traditional fireworks display near the Eiffel Tower will take place at 11:00 pm local time as a “symbol of the resilience of our capital and our nation and a tribute to all the everyday heroes who worked during the duration of the epidemic “, According to a joint press release. by city authorities said.

What about the coronavirus?

In his television interview, Macron said he was in favor of making face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces to limit the coronavirus pandemic, adding that such a measure could take effect on August 1.

Masks are compulsory in public transport across France, but are not compulsory in closed public spaces.

France’s main national outbreak is under control, but a number of public health officials have recently warned of the risks of a second wave, and Macron said in the interview that the outbreak accelerated a little.

He also warned of a massive increase in unemployment, predicting that there could be another 900,000 job seekers by spring 2021.

Image copyright
Reuters

Legend

President Emmanuel Macron, in the center, gave a rare television interview after the events


Macron canceled the annual tradition of the television interview the day he took office in 2017. Critics have attacked his handling of the pandemic and his lack of television appearances.

Popular French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe resigned earlier this month as Mr Macron reshuffled his government following disappointing local election results.

A court announced an investigation into the French government’s treatment of the coronavirus response just hours after his resignation.

France has confirmed more than 200,000 cases and some 30,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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