Huge protests across France have taken place on Wednesday after French president Emmanuel Macron announced new measures in a bid to increase vaccination rates across the country.
In a television address on Monday, Macron introduced a requirement for all health care workers and other key workers who come into close proximity with vulnerable citizens to be fully vaccinated by September 15 or face the consequences.
Under the new rules, any health worker who has not received both doses by that date will not be able to work and will not be paid, and could also face a fine.
The French president also used the opportunity to advise citizens that the nation’s health pass will now become more widespread, with individuals requiring to show that they have either been vaccinated or had a recent negative PCR test for Covid-19 before being granted entry to large-scale events, night clubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. The health pass will also be required to board long-distance public transport from August.
Macron also announced that PCR tests will no longer be free to everyone from October, as he attempted to encourage vaccination rather than citizens relying on multiple negative tests.
“We must go towards vaccination of all French people, it is the only way towards a normal life,” Macron told France, warning vaccine sceptics that “we will enforce restrictions on those who are not vaccinated rather than on everyone.”
Wednesday’s protests, which coincided with Bastille Day, saw tens of thousands of French protestors march on riot police chanting “liberty”, with other footage circulating on social media showing protestors clashing with authorities in the streets of Paris and trash cans set on fire, as riot police launched tear gas in an attempt to disperse the large crowds.
State buildings were vandalised in Nantes as citizens protested the new government’s new Covid-19 policy, chanting “the health pass will not pass”.
Booking rates for vaccinations have seen a dramatic increase since Monday’s announcement, but the impingement on liberty and freedom of choice has been heavily criticised by a number of influential movements, not least the Gilet Jaunes.