Hundreds of thousands of people protested this Saturday across France against the measures taken by the Government of Emmanuel Macron to boost vaccination against the coronavirus, especially the covid-19 certificate that has been in force for almost a week and the mandatory vaccination of Health professionals. According to the Ministry of Interior, nearly 215,000 people took to the streets for the fifth Saturday in a row to show their opposition to what they consider a “sanitary dictatorship”, although the resurgence of the pandemic has led to new confinements and caused hospital saturation in overseas territories, in which the Vaccination rate is much lower than in mainland France.
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Participation in the protests was slightly lower than expected — the press had quoted official sources predicting 250,000 people — and was also slightly below the total mobilized last week, when a peak of 237,000 protesters was recorded. Even so, observers highlighted the ability to mobilize a social protest without clear leaders and in the middle of the vacation period.
The Government has insisted for days that the number of people who get vaccinated each week is much greater than the number of protesters who take to the streets to protest. Macron this week reiterated its goal of reaching 50 million citizens who have received at least one dose of vaccine by the end of this month. However, according to the French press, the fact that the demonstrations do not decrease begins to cause concern in an Executive who knows firsthand the wear caused by long-term protests, such as the “yellow vests” in 2018 and 2019, and already It has its eye, as are all the parties, on the presidential elections that will be held less than a year from now, in April.
The new protests — about 200 were called throughout the country — take place when the health certificate has been in force for almost a week, while in the overseas territories, once again confined, the situation worsens. Authorities began requiring on Monday that the person present proof of complete vaccination, a recent negative test or a certificate that he has recovered from the coronavirus so that he can enter bars and restaurants —including in open areas—, board a internal flight or a long-distance train and even visiting a patient or accompanying someone to the hospital. The requirement has been in force since July 21 for museums, cinemas and theaters, and from next Monday it will also be valid for access to shopping centers of more than 20,000 square meters in regions where the incidence rate exceeds 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants . The measure will also affect nine shopping centers in Paris, including the emblematic Galeries Lafayette, as announced by police on Saturday. Across the country, 104 stores and malls will have to demand sanitary control from Monday, according to the agency France Presse.
In a rare public address at the start of a health defense council meeting — usually held behind closed doors, in yet another sign of the concern generated by the protests — Macron said Wednesday that the covid-19 certificate is a lesser evil. “It’s either this or the closing of the country, a new curfew or a confinement,” he warned, noting that the health crisis has not yet been overcome and that vaccines “are the greatest protection against hospitalizations.” The proof of this, according to the Government, is the critical situation in overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Martinique, once again confined and with hospitals saturated by new cases of covid-19, which required sending extra medical personnel to these locations.
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