Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government's latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the coronavirus. In Paris, separate protest marches by the far right and far left wound through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in other cities, the AP reports. Thousands of people answered calls to take to the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician who announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election. Gathered a stone's throw away from the Louvre Museum, protesters chanted "Freedom" and banged metal spoons on saucepans. While Philippot has organized regular protests against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, Saturday's demonstration drew a larger and more diverse crowd of people broadly disaffected with politics: yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff, and royalists.
They denounced the government's decision on Monday to make vaccines compulsory for all health care workers, and to require a "health pass" proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative, or recovered from the virus in order to access restaurants and other public venues. At a pop-up vaccination center in the southwest, Prime Minister Jean Castex exhorted the French to stick together. "There is only one solution: vaccination," he said, stressing it "protects us, and will make us freer." While a majority of French health care workers have had at least one vaccine dose, some are resisting compulsory vaccinations. Vandals overnight ransacked a vaccination center in the southeast. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asked prefects and police chiefs to reinforce security for elected officials, after several complained they had received threats in recent days over the latest anti-COVID measures. "I will never get vaccinated," said a 53-year-old town councilor who questions the safety of the vaccine. "People need to wake up."
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