PARIS: Hundreds joined a series of small-scale demonstrations in France on Saturday two days before tighter restrictions come into force against people holding out against having a Covid-19 vaccine.
Opponents of the policy say the reinforced measures will impinge upon daily “freedoms” and railed against what they dubbed a form of social “apartheid”.
Paris saw four rallies largely attended by supporters of nationalist politician and anti-EU presidential candidate Florian Philippot, some of them parents who brought their children along.
Many of those marching against the latest tightening of rules against the unjabbed did not wear masks as they set off waving French flags and bearing banners demanding “freedom”, “truth” and urging “no to apartheid”.
Some shouted “vaccine pass— total resistance!” as they made clear their opposition to the latest measures in marches which harked back to the 2018-19 “yellow vests” protests against President Emmanuel Macron.
Sophie, a legal worker aged 44 and Franck, an IT worker aged 56, told AFP they had had their jabs but opposed any idea that their daughter should be pressured into being vaccinated also.
Sophie said she found it ironic that the latest restrictions were coming at “a moment when the virus is less virulent”, insisting the time had come to put faith in collective immunity two years into the pandemic.
In Bordeaux in the southwest, Anaelle, a nurse, blasted compulsory vaccination as “shameful”.
“People who’ve been vaccinated get sick, so what’s the point?” she asked. Although the size of protests has dropped off in recent weeks, a hard core remain angry at Macron, who has warned he will keep extending restrictions until the unvaccinated accept a coronavirus shot.
A new vaccine health passport will be introduced in France from Monday whereby those aged 16 and above will have to show they have been jabbed to access restaurants or bars, leisure activities or use inter-regional public transport. A negative Covid test will no longer be sufficient save to access health services.