Large parts of France turned into a war zone last weekend as hundreds of yellow vest protesters clashed with armed police. In Paris, French riot officers fired tear gas and arrested more than 250 people, during the first “Gilet jaunes” demonstration since the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of protesters also defied social distancing rules and did not wear masks in the French capital.
Meanwhile, similar anti-Government marches took place in of Marseille, Nice, Lyon, Lille, Nantes and Strasbourg.
Pascal Mousset, president of the GNI employers’ union, has condemned the scenes over weekend and insisted the “state must act”.
France has one of the highest coronavirus cases in the world and is currently on the brink of a second wave and Mr Mousset said protesters are acting as if there is not a coronavirus pandemic.
He insisted there has been no repercussion for rule breakers, while bars and restaurants have been threatened with closure if they do not follow the health guidelines.
Mr Mousset said: “These people act as if no epidemic, no health measures are in place. They do not imagine or care about the infections their behaviour can cause.
“And at the same time, threats are increasing against our professionals who are regularly threatened with total or early closure at 11pm, for example, in order to respect and enforce the health protocol.
“This situation cannot continue. The state must act.”
The union chief has called on the French Government to clampdown on the rules, rather than preventing controlled social gatherings in bars and restaurants.
The last gathering took place on March 14 – three days before France went into a nationwide lockdown.
The resurgence of high-visibility jacket demonstrations comes as France desperately battles with a worrying surge in coronavirus cases.
Last Thursday, France recorded its highest ever daily number of new infections with almost 10,000 coronavirus cases.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)