Thousands protest in France and Italy against new anti-covid measures

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Ian Langsdon / EPA

Thousands of people demonstrated this Saturday in several cities in France and Italy against measures to control the pandemic, especially against the mandatory use of the “health pass” to enter public spaces.

with screams of “freedom, freedom”, thousands of people demonstrated in France, this Saturday, against the new measures of the Government to end the covid-19 pandemic, which has intensified in the country with the Delta variant.

Police estimate that 11,000 protesters took part in the capital, Paris alone, and about 150,000 in about a hundred other cities, including Marseille.

In Paris, a group of protesters, essentially belonging to the anti-Government movement “yellow vests”, became involved in sporadic incidents with the police, according to the AFP news agency.

On Twitter, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin condemned “violent behavior that targeted some police and journalists”, mentioning that six people were interrogated in Paris, where incidents took place near the Champs-Élysées.

Thousands of people, almost all without mask, joined the sound of the French anthem in the Trocadéro Square, following the call of the former European deputy of the far right, Florian Philippot.

The demonstrations take place when, according to a survey, the majority of French people are in favor of the decision taken, on July 12, by President Emmanuel Macron to make it mandatory, from September 15, on vaccination against covid-19 for doctors , nurses and other professionals working in hospitals and nursing homes.

The extent of use of the covid-19 digital certificate to most public places is equally approved by a large number of French people, according to the same survey, released on July 13th.

Mandatory in cultural and leisure venues, this “health pass” will now have to be shown, from August, to enter cafes, restaurants and trains.

The announcement by the French head of state of the new measures led to the acceleration of vaccination: on Friday, 48% of the population had complete vaccination and 58% had received at least one dose.

However, the number of contagions has increased significantly due to the Delta variant, from 4,500 on 9 July to around 21,500 last Friday.

Opposition to the new government measures brings together anti-mask, anti-vaccination and anti-confinement movements. A week ago, more than 110,000 people had already demonstrated in France against vaccination or the “health pass”.

Senate approves “sanitary pass” with modifications

This morning, the French Senate approved the sanitary pass, but with modifications, such as the exemption for minors and on the terraces of bars and restaurants, and these changes will now be reviewed together with the National Assembly.

The senators introduced several changes to the bill coming from the National Assembly, such as the use of the sanitary pass only until the end of the state of sanitary emergency, which will last until October 31st.

The Senate wants the health pass not to be used in shopping centers, because of access to supermarkets, nor on the terraces of bars and restaurants. The health pass should also not be applied to minors, according to the changes introduced by the senators.

The senators still want the 16 and 17 year olds do not need parental permission to get vaccinated. Mandatory isolation measures for those infected were also relaxed.

The French Second Chamber also wants the obligation for all other public places to start on September 15th and not on August 30th, as requested by the Assembly.

Senators and deputies are meeting this afternoon in a joint committee to agree on these amendments.

Thousands of Italians also in protest

Thousands of Italians also demonstrated this Saturday against the mandatory use of the “sanitary pass” to enter closed leisure spaces.

“Freedom” and “No to dictatorship” were the words most heard among protesters, most without masks, from north to south of the country.

In the city of Milan, the protests were accompanied by cries of “no to the health pass”. The demonstrations were called on social networks in at least 80 cities.

As of August 6, it will be mandatory in Italy to use the “health pass” covid-19 to access the indoor leisure spaces, such as cafes, restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, museums, cinemas, theaters and game rooms.

The new measure, announced on Thursday, has led to a rush to vaccination which, in some regions, has increased by 200%.