Paris bans Canada-style protests on anti-COVID curbs: Police

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Paris police said Thursday they would ban so-called “freedom convoys” inspired by a truckers’ protest against coronavirus restrictions that has paralyzed the Canadian capital Ottawa.

“There will be a special deployment... to prevent blockages of major roads, issue tickets and arrest those who infringe on this protest ban,” the city’s police force said in a statement.

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The force recalled that people blocking roads faced up to two years in prison, a fine of 4,500 euros ($5,140) and a three-year driving ban.

Paris’ move comes after a number of convoys of cars, vans and motorbikes set off from around France on Wednesday, inspired by the two-week blockade of central Ottawa by truckers angry at testing and vaccine requirements for crossing the border with the US.

Eyhande Abeberry, 52, a participant at the send-off in the southern city of Bayonne, told AFP that the government’s vaccine pass for access to much of public life was “an aberration”.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said he recognized the public’s “weariness” with infection control measures, but insisted that France had been among the European countries with “the fewest restrictions that infringe on citizens’ freedom”.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said that she “understood” the protesters’ goals, saying that it was “another form of the yellow vests” demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron that rocked France in 2018.

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