French convoys protesting virus rules head towards Paris

Demonstrators angry at the restrictions imposed on the spread of the epidemic headed towards Paris in scattered convoys of campers, cars and trucks on Friday in an attempt to besiege the French capital, despite a police ban.

Organizing online, protesters were motivated in part by truck drivers who surrounded the Canadian capital and closed border crossings.. But the French measure has no clear leader or target, and comes as months of protests against French government vaccinations and other anti-virus rules waned.

Paris region authorities have deployed more than 7,000 police officers to toll booths and other key locations in an effort to prevent the siege. They threatened heavy fines and other penalties for defying the protest ban, which authorities said was necessary to prevent “risking public order”.

Some French groups are threatening to continue their journey to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union, and to meet there drivers from other countries on Monday.

The Belgian authorities also banned the threat of a blockade, and a similar “freedom convoy” scheduled for Friday in Vienna was canceled after the authorities banned it.

French protesters have shared photos of Canadian truck drivers blocking border crossings and crippling downtown Ottawa while demanding an end to coronavirus restrictions in their country, including a full vaccination rule for all truck drivers entering Canada.

Some far-right figures and others in France appear to be trying to revitalize their protest movements, which represent a small minority of French citizens, by taking advantage of the global interest in Canadian truck drivers.

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Caravan participants embodied a mixture of grounds and vehicles, from trucks to motorbikes and campers. She wore some yellow jackets, a symbol of a French protest movement against perceived economic injustice, which largely faded in 2019 after the government responded to some of the participants’ concerns.

France has a very high vaccination rate, and the government is gradually easing virus restrictions. However, with French hospitals and the elderly hard hit by the recurring rise in infections, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday that it was too early for people to let their guard down.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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