Riots broke out in Paris after French President Emmanuel Macron announced new restrictions relating to Covid-19. The new rules require anyone over the age of 12 to show a vaccine certificate or a negative Covid-19 test to enter restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, and other institutions. The announcement came in response to a reported surge in new cases in the first half of July and concerns about the new Delta variant of the virus.
Bastille Day riots in Paris
Daily reports of new cases in France nearly doubled over the course of a week with a total of 4,256 new cases recorded on July 11.
French hospitals are not especially strained at the moment by new cases and the current daily figures are well below what they were at the worst of the pandemic in France.
The government is apparently concerned about the fact that cases per day are quickly increasing, rather than decreasing. Macron and others fear a major surge in August if stricter rules are not put in place now.
The riots erupted after Macron announced what those new rules will be. They are some of the harshest restrictions imposed in the European Union so far.
Protesters took to the streets of Paris on Bastille Day to criticize the new policy, which they believe will be effectively forcing citizens to receive the vaccine.
French riot police stepped in to disperse the crowds, which did not have a permit to hold a protest. The scene became unruly as tear gas was unleashed by the police.
The Paris Police throw large amounts of teargas at demonstrators trying to quell the protest in Paris, France against mandatory vaccination and vaccine passes.
The police will be the only group in the country exempt from having to have a vaccine pass. pic.twitter.com/PQKHxv5VOM
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) July 14, 2021
The Yellow Vests return
More than a million French citizens rushed to sign up for vaccines in the hours after the announcement so the restrictions already appear to be accomplishing their intended mission.
Large numbers of Parisians are apparently still opposed to the idea of either taking the vaccines or of carrying a vaccine passport to enter shops and cafes.
There has been speculation that the populist Gilets Jaunes, or “Yellow Vest” movement could be involved in the protesting and rioting.
The Yellow Vest protests were halted by the initial wave of Covid-19 restrictions but some of the Bastille Day marchers can be seen wearing the eponymous yellow vests in videos of the event.
France will have a presidential election in 2022 and Macron will be eager to avoid future riots as the vote approaches. Incumbents have not fared well in French presidential elections in the last two decades.
Right wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who lost to Macron in 2017, will likely be the leading alternative but will have to overcome a difficult two round election which defeated her last race.