France protests to have big impact on economy says Le Maire
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France has been rocked by protests for years, reaching a head in 2018 when about 285,000 people demonstrated across France as part of the “Gilets Jaunes” movement. While the number of protests has dropped since then, the high level of protests has been a looming threat over Mr Macron’s presidency.
The French leader has been keen to prove he’s not afraid of French protesters by pushing through difficult reforms on labour laws and railway workers’ pension rights.
But despite his efforts, the UK’s updated travel guidance warns of a “number of demonstrations” across France, that may “turn violent”.
The guidance says: “A number of demonstrations have been taking place across major cities in France.
“If demonstrations do turn violent, a heavy police/gendarmerie presence is to be expected.
“In all cases, you should avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.”
This comes as France has once again been the subject of protests earlier this week, as anti-vaccine protesters clashed with police in Paris.
Horrific clashes between protesters and riot police were caught on camera on Monday, with footage shared on social media of violent altercations taking place at the demonstrations.
This marks the fifth successive Saturday in which the streets of France have been dominated by the protests.
The Covid health pass, which is seen by Macron as the key to emerging from the pandemic and avoiding further lockdowns, makes vaccination essential to carry on with routine activities like eating out or using public transport.
This comes amid a backdrop of similar protests unfolding across Europe, including Luxembourg, Austria, Israel and the Netherlands, as citizens hit out at forced vaccines, vaccine passports and lockdown measures.
Just today, France updated its own travel guidance to block UK travellers from entering the country amid surging Omicron cases.
The country has banned all non-essential travel from Britain, limiting entry to French residents or citizens travelling for compelling reasons, regardless of vaccination status.
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The ban comes into force at midnight on Saturday or 11pm on Friday in the UK.
The new guidance says that there will be a “requirement to have an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.”
It added: “People cannot travel for touristic or professional reasons.”
Speaking to French news outlet, BFMTV, Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said the measues will include restricting entry to “French residents and their families” only.
The new measures will also reduce the validity of antigen or PCR tests from 48 hours to 24 hours for travellers arriving from Britain.
There will be a seven-day isolation period for those arriving, which can be reduced to 48 hours if the traveller returns a negative antigen or PCR test.
This comes as the UK recorded its highest ever number of new daily cases on Monday, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealing that the UK recorded 200,000 new cases that day.
Prof Whitty warned that daily COVID case records “will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up”.
He also said that these would translate into “big numbers” being treated in hospital in the coming weeks.
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