Paris and Brussels ban ‘freedom convoy’ protests against Covid rules

Hundreds of people are protesting to demand an end to France’s Covid restrictions

Sudip Kar-Gupta
Thursday 10 February 2022 16:41
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<p>A French activist holds a poster reading “Resistance” before the start of their “Convoi de la liberte” (The Freedom Convoy) in Nice, France, 9 February 2022</p>

A French activist holds a poster reading “Resistance” before the start of their “Convoi de la liberte” (The Freedom Convoy) in Nice, France, 9 February 2022

Paris and Brussels have banned a “freedom convoy” of motorists protesting against Covid restrictions from entering the respective capitals.

Hundreds of protesters set out from southern France on Wednesday and plan to converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to coronavirus rules, inspired by truckers in Canada who have gridlocked the capital Ottawa.

The Paris police prefecture on Thursday said the protesters would be prohibited from entering the capital from 11 - 14 February.

“Due to the risk of public order disturbances that this gathering could cause, the ... police issues an order prohibiting such demonstrations,” the prefecture said in a statement.

Motorists who violate the order risk two years in prison and a fine of 4,500 euros (£3,795), the police warned.

Later on Thursday, authorities in Brussels also banned the convoy from entering the city, which is home to European Union institutions and Nato.

“The Federal Police will control motorised vehicles on the main roads to Brussels that come to demonstrate in Belgium. The Region and the City of Brussels will issue decrees banning demonstrations with trucks on their territory,” a statement from the Brussels region said.

In Canada, horn-blaring demonstrations demanding an end to Covid vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers are now spilling to key Canada-United States border crossings.

Copycat protests have also sprung up in Australia and New Zealand in recent days, with drivers jamming roads in the capitals.

In France’s southern city of Nice, protesters waved the Canadian flag as the convoy set off.

The prostesters are demanding, among other things, the scrapping of rules barring people from public venues if they do not have a Covid vaccination.

"Lots of people don’t understand why a vaccine pass is in force in France," said one man who was helping coordinate the convoy from Nice and who gave his name as Denis.

"Our work is to communicate to Europe that putting in place a health pass until 2023 is something the majority of our fellow citizens cannot understand," Denis said.

Reuters

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