Some demonstrations began on Wednesday morning in Paris as the annual military parade of the traditional July 14 parade, under the eyes of President Emmanuel Macron, was taking place along the Champs-Élysées.
The protests continued on Wednesday evening, with protesters captured in video clips posted to social media, also targeting fireworks against police.
Protesters, many of whom are unmasked, are unhappy with the decision announced Monday to require health workers to be vaccinated and to present a vaccination pass to enter most public places. Those who are not vaccinated will be required to show a negative test result.
The announcement prompted a record number of French people to make an appointment for COVID-19 jabs.
“It’s in the name of freedom” was the message from some of the protesters.
In a district of the French capital, the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The declared route was not respected, said the police headquarters in a tweet, deploring the “throwing of projectiles” and the lighting of fires by the demonstrators.
Across Paris, some 2,250 people demonstrated, while other demonstrations took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nantes and elsewhere. The French authorities estimate the total number of demonstrators at 19,000.
The Interior Ministry said there had been 53 different demonstrations across France.
“Down with the dictatorship”, “Down with the sanitary pass” chanted the demonstrators.
One of them, Yann Fontaine, a 29-year-old notary clerk from Berry in central France, said he had come to demonstrate in Paris, arguing that the health pass was equivalent to “segregation”.
“Macron plays on fears, it’s revolting. I know people who are now going to get vaccinated just so they can take their kids to the movies, not to protect others from severe forms of COVID, ”he said.
The police put an end to the anti-Emmanuel Macron demonstration in Paris. Protesters are angry with the president who announced COVID “passports” for entry into restaurants, malls, bars and other businesses. pic.twitter.com/gTFPzc5eSv
– Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) July 14, 2021
“There is no vaccine obligation, it is a maximum incentive”, then declared the spokesman of the government Gabriel Attal.
“I find it hard to understand, in a country where 11 vaccines are already compulsory … that it could be perceived as a dictatorship,” he said, adding that after a year of studying vaccines “the time doubt is long gone ”.
Rules will be relaxed for teens who have only been able to get the punches since mid-June – “Making summer hell is out of the question,” Attal said.
According to an Elabe poll published on Tuesday, a large majority of French people approve of the new security measures.
About 35.5 million people – just over half of the French population – have so far received at least one dose of the vaccine.
At the start of the pandemic, France had one of the highest levels of vaccine skepticism in the developed world.
In December 2020, a survey conducted by the Odoxa polling group and the newspaper Le Figaro, showed that only 42% of the French population wanted to be vaccinated. By April of this year, that figure had risen to 70%, while around 14% remain staunchly opposed to vaccines.