Hundreds of people staged a protest Tuesday night in neighbouring Martinique, against the imposition of a new 9.00 p.m to 5.00 a.m curfew, a requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 and other measures to deal with a surge in cases of the virus, local reports say.
The protest took place in front of the prefecture, with some irate citizens carrying signs denouncing the new measures announced by Martinique Prefect, Stanislas Cazelles and French President, Emmanuel Macron.
Macron, in an address on Monday, pointed to a surge in infections of the COVID-19 Delta variant in mainland France and its overseas territories, and urged French citizens to get vaccinated.
He announced that vaccination will become mandatory for all health workers and urged them to get the COVID-19 jab by September 15, warning that they could face sanctions for failure to do so.
The French President also announced that PCR tests will no longer be free of charge from the autumn, unless they are obtained with a prescription.
And France 24 quoted France’s health minister Olivier Véran as saying that that non-vaccinated health workers won’t receive a salary nor be allowed to work after September 15.
He announced that a vaccination campaign for high school, secondary school and primary school students will begin when school starts again in September, France 24 reported.
But protesters in Martinique, which has seen a massive spike in COVID-19 cases with some 1000 new infections in the space of a week, on Tuesday night denounced the new requirements as dictatorial.
Some of the protesters were quoted by local media as saying that while they are not opposed to getting vaccinated, they resent being coerced.
Martinique.FranceAntilles said around midnight, a dozen hooded people among the protesting group threw bottles in the direction of police officers who responded with tear gas canisters.
But the online news publication said calm returned around 1 a.m. and the crowd dispersed.
Nevertheless, sources in Martinique told St Lucia Times that another protest has been planned for Saturday and expressed concern that the gatherings would become COVID-19 ‘super spreader’ events.