Far-right activists and yellow vest movement march against French virus bill

Far-right activists and yellow vest movement march against French virus bill
A man receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in the south of France (AP)

Far-right activists and members of France’s yellow vest movement are holding protests against a bill requiring everyone to have a special virus pass to enter restaurants and other venues and mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for all health care workers.

Legislators in France’s senate are debating the bill on Saturday after the lower house of parliament approved it on Friday.

French virus infections are spiking and hospital cases are also growing. The government is trying to speed up vaccinations to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals and avoid new lockdowns.

Most French adults are fully vaccinated and polls indicate a majority of French people support the new measures.

People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination centre in front the City Hall in Paris (AP)

Protesters against the move marched through Paris in one of multiple demonstrations planned Saturday.

A crowd gathered at Bastille plaza and marched through eastern Paris in one of several demonstrations which took place around France.

Thousands also joined a gathering across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower, organised by a former top official in Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration party.

While most protesters were calm, tensions erupted on the margins of the Bastille march.

Riot police sprayed tear gas on marchers after someone threw a chair at an officer. Other projectiles could also be seen in a video of the incident.

Many marchers focused their anger on a French “health pass” that is required to enter museums, movie theatres and tourist sites.

French president Emmanuel Macron (AP)

The bill under debate would expand the pass requirement to all restaurants and bars in France and some other venues.

To get the pass, people need to be fully vaccinated, have a recent negative test or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.

Legislators have debated the measure amid divisions over how far to go in imposing health passes or mandatory vaccinations.

Last weekend, more than 100,000 people protested around France against the measures.

They included far-right politicians and activists as well as some others targeting their ire at President Emmanuel Macron.

Remaining members of France’s yellow vest movement, largely from political extremes, are also using the virus bill to try to renew their campaign.

The yellow vest movement started in 2018 as a broad uprising against perceived economic injustice and led to months of protests marked by violence between demonstrators and police, but subsided after the French government addressed many of the protesters’ concerns.

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