Inspired by the Freedom Convoy of Canadian truckers protesting their government’s vaccine mandate, a group of protesters gathered together in France Wednesday for a “Convoi de la Liberté” of their own.
On Wednesday morning, some 200 protesters assembled in a parking lot in Nice, located in southern France along the Mediterranean coast. People in the group told Reuters they planned to march to Paris and Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Lots of people don’t understand why a vaccine pass is in force in France,” one of the participants reportedly said. “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.”
In Perpignan, near the country’s border with Spain, another “freedom convoy” of about 200 people also gathered to set off for Paris.
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“We are just tired of it all. We want to go where we want without being asked for a vaccine pass,” Nicolas Bourrat, an independent truck driver, told Reuters. “At least with this action, I am doing something.”
Last month, France imposed strict vaccine mandates that effectively banned the unvaccinated from all restaurants, sports arenas, and other venues as COVID cases driven by the highly contagious omicron surged across the country.
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A Facebook page associated with the French protesters, “Le convoy de la liberté,” has amassed more than 300,000 members since it was created late last month.
Photos of the French convoy show people waving French and Canadian flags in an evident tribute to the Canadian truckers who have fueled the movement.
The protests in Canada, labeled the “Freedom Convoy,” first began in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Jan. 23 in protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s coronavirus policies. Hundreds of big rig trucks later descended on Ottawa, bringing the area around Parliament Hill to a standstill.
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The protests have since spread to other locations on or near the Canadian border, including the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, where a protest caused long backups and at one point stopped traffic in both directions.