(Bloomberg) — Protesters against France’s vaccine mandates aim to use their vehicles to block roads in Paris beginning Friday, as support for the “freedom convoys” that first began in Canada spreads to other countries.
The Paris police issued an order banning the demonstration from Friday to Monday, citing the risk of “disturbing the public order.” The protesters plan to continue on to Brussels on Monday.
France’s vaccine pass, which came into effect late January, prevents people who haven’t received jabs from participating in most social activities, including going to restaurants and cultural spaces. With cases now falling in France, government spokesman Gabriel Attal indicated on Wednesday that the vaccine pass could be lifted in late March or early April.
France has begun easing rules on Covid-related restrictions in recent weeks, including lifting mandates to work from home and to wear masks outside. Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 16.
Some protesters planning to join the Paris convoy told France Info radio that they were not anti-vaccine but against the vaccine mandate, adding that they hoped to “get our freedom back.” Some cars and trucks were seen leaving Nice, Bayonne and other cities in southern France to join the convoy as early as Wednesday, according to BFM TV.
Organizers of the protests have quickly found traction on social media. A Facebook group called “le convoi de la liberté,” or freedom convoy, had more than 330,000 members on Thursday, and a Telegram channel with the same name had more than 17,000 subscribers.
Some of the French protesters say they were inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” that initially began in Ottawa on Jan. 28, in response to a Canadian government policy that requires truck drivers crossing the US border to be vaccinated. Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday.
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