France: Thousands of people demonstrate against vaccination, COVID passes | Economic news
By CONSTANTIN GOUVY and ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) – Thousands of people marched across France on Saturday to protest against mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers and the COVID-19 passes that will be needed to enter restaurants and other places.
A march in Paris led by a far-right anti-vaccine politician drew a generally large crowd, swelling with anger at the new virus rules announced this week by President Emmanuel Macron.
The walkers chanted “Freedom!” and carried signs denouncing a “medical dictatorship” and Macron. Demonstrations also took place in Strasbourg to the east, Lille to the north, Montpellier to the south and elsewhere in France.
Macron’s measures are aimed at slowing the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus and protecting hospitals from a new wave of.
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Macron ordered all health workers to get vaccinated by September 15 and announced that special COVID-19 passes will be required at all restaurants, bars, hospitals, shopping malls, trains and planes. To get a pass, which will be needed at restaurants from next month, people must be fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from the virus, or have a negative virus test.
The measures have prompted record numbers of people to be vaccinated in recent days – but have also angered some groups.
Meanwhile, the French government announced tightened border controls from Sunday, but also said it would allow travelers from anywhere in the world who have been fully vaccinated. This includes people who received the vaccine made in India by AstraZeneca, and not just the AstraZeneca vaccines made in Europe.
The decision to start accepting visitors vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute came after a global outcry that the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate only recognizes AstraZeneca vaccines made in Europe.
Several other EU countries already recognize the Indian version, which is used in the UK and Africa. The varying rules of each country have further complicated the travel season this summer.
France still does not recognize COVID-19 vaccines made in China or Russia, only those authorized by the European drug regulator: those manufactured by Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
From Sunday, France will also begin requiring that any unvaccinated person arriving from Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece or Cyprus test negative within 24 hours for cross the French borders.
The government also added Tunisia, Indonesia, Cuba and Mozambique to France’s “red list” of countries at high risk of the virus, according to the statement on Saturday. However, France will now grant entry to travelers from all Red List countries if they are fully vaccinated.
Elaine Ganley in Montpellier contributed.
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