Thousands of eco-activists gather in Paris despite lockdown

Thousands of eco-activists gather in Paris despite lockdown: ‘Youth for climate’ protest held hours before a THIRD of French people are hit with new restrictions amid a surge in cases and fresh vaccine chaos

  • Thousands of climate protesters gathered in Paris for Greta Thunberg movement despite looming lockdown
  • Climate activists gathered online and in-person from as many as 60 countries to take part in demonstrations
  • Around 21million people will be affected by new measures after national curfew failed to prevent third wave

Thousands of protesters gathered in Paris for the Fridays for Future movement created by Greta Thunberg, despite the looming new lockdown coming into force on Saturday.

Climate activists gathered online and in-person from as many as 60 countries. Scenes from Paris showed people demonstrating without adhering to social distancing measures.

The globally coordinated campaign #cleanupStandardChartered called for London headquartered Standard Chartered to divest from coal in emerging markets.

Scenes of the protests in the French capital were a stark contrast to the thousands of Parisians descending on train stations to escape to the countryside before the new month-long coronavirus lockdown was introduced.  

Thousands of people march for climate at the call of “Youth For Climate” in Paris despite the looming month long French lockdown

Students protesting without adhering to social distaning measures. The globally coordinated campaign #cleanupStandardChartered called for London headquartered Standard Chartered to divest from coal in emerging markets

Scenes of the protests in the French capital were a stark contrast to the thousands of Parisians descending on train stations to escape to the countryside

Parisians piled on to trains in an exodus from the French capital today hours before a third of the country is plunged into a new month-long lockdown. 

Trains heading west to Brittany and south to Lyon were fully booked on Friday with platforms packed at the Gare Montparnasse as 12million people in the Paris region brace for the new restrictions. 

French PM Jean Castex announced the new measures last night amid a third wave of Covid-19 cases which has thrown Paris hospitals into crisis, with vaccines coming too slowly to protect large chunks of the population. 

The vaccine shambles took yet another twist today when France said that only over-55s should get the AstraZeneca shot – a 180-degree reversal from its earlier ruling that older people should be denied the jab. 

Health officials said the new rule resulted from the fact that the blood clots which threw the EU’s roll-out into further crisis this week had only been seen in under-55s. 

But EU safety experts ruled yesterday that the jab was safe and effective for all age groups – saying there is no increased risk of blood clots linked to the vaccine. 

French people waiting at Montparnasse Train Station to flee Paris as new lockdown will take place on Friday at midnight, on March 18

Trains leaving Montparnasse station – which serves destinations in Brittany and the southwest – were completely full after a rush of bookings late on Thursday

The move comes after France on Wednesday announced its biggest daily rise in Covid cases since its most recent lockdown was lifted in late November last year

Passengers pack into the Gare Montparnasse in Paris today as people flee the French capital hours before new lockdown measures take effect for a third of France’s population

Passengers wearing protective face masks walk to board a train at Montparnasse railway station to go to the provinces to avoid the third lockdown

As in previous lockdowns, a form written out or downloaded on a phone will be needed to justify why a person has left the home in areas under the new restrictions

Parisians walk along a platform to catch a train leaving from the Gare Montparnasse which serves the west and southwest of France 

People hold their luggage as they wait to board a train out of Paris today despite the government’s insistence that the lockdown is less severe than last year’s measures 

France’s infection rate has reached its highest levels since a November lockdown, prompting Macron’s government to impose new restrictions on 21million people 

Parisians walks along a platform to catch a train leaving from the Gare Montparnasse serving the west and southwest of France

Parisians arrive to catch trains leaving from the Gare Montparnasse on Friday 

Emmanuel Macron is under fire at home and abroad over his handling of the crisis, with opponents saying that he had ‘failed’ to prevent new measures being needed. 

‘Let’s be clear, we’re in a third wave mostly down to the rise of this famous British variant,’ Macron said on Wednesday after a day of talks with medical staff in Paris. 

Macron had previously been criticised for rubbishing the AstraZeneca vaccine as ‘quasi-ineffective’ in older people in what was seen as an act of post-Brexit ill will. 

France initially said that over-65s should not get the vaccine because of limited data on older people in clinical trials. 

It later revised its stance to say that 65-to-74-year-olds could get the jab after more data from the UK showed that the vaccine is highly effective. 

Now, France has lurched the other way by saying that older people should not only get the vaccine but have exclusive access to it – with under-55s now banned.  

France is moving slowly even by the EU’s standards in the vaccine race and is languishing way behind Britain in protecting its population against Covid-19 

A Parisian crosses the Seine near the Eiffel Tower as the city and its surrounding areas face a third spell of lockdown amid another resurgence in Covid-19 cases in France 

People walk over a deserted bridge in a cloudy Paris, where people will once again have to fill out a form to justify their movements to authorities  

The Porte d’Orleans in Paris was filled with traffic on the ringroad leading to highways in the direction of South and West of France

Large queues were seen at Port d’Auteuil heading in the direction of the west of France as millions across the country prepare to enter a month-long lockdown

Large numbers of passengers were seen with suitcases at Monparmasse railway station in Paris as the country prepares to go into another lockdown 

Passengers wait to board their trains with suitcases at Montparmasse railway station in Paris this afternoon

Amid the chaos, France is lagging way behind Britain in vaccinating its population, meaning that most of the population is still susceptible to the third wave. 

In all, just over 5.5 million people in France have had at least one vaccine shot and nearly 2.4 million have received both doses, official data show.

That is compared to 25million people in the UK who have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 1.7million people who have had two doses.    

While the government claims the new lockdown measures are lighter than last year’s national lockdowns, Parisians will still have to show papers to justify leaving their homes – prompting many to seek refuge outside the cramped capital. 

Trains leaving Montparnasse station – which serves destinations in Brittany and the southwest – were completely full after a rush of bookings late on Thursday. 

People, wearing face masks, were seen queueing outside a shop in Nice as the country prepares to enter a third month-long lockdown

People with masks to protect from coronavirus queue in front of a perfume store in Lille, northern France, after the government backed off from ordering a tough lockdown for Paris and other regions

In Nice, France, people were seen queueing wearing masks outside shops as the country prepares to head into another lockdown

A spokesman for national rail operator SNCF said trains to some destinations were fully booked after having a 60-70 per cent level of occupancy on previous Fridays.

Maiwenn, a 19-year old student clutching a suitcase, said she had decided to leave Paris to spend the rest of the university year with her family in in Brittany.

‘I’m going to stay there until the end of the term,’ scheduled for mid-April, she said. 

‘It’s been roughly a year that our courses have been on distance learning so we’re starting to get used to it.’

France had hoped to stave off new lockdowns with a nationwide 6pm curfew and weekend shutdowns but the new measures affect around a third of the population.  

The other regions affected by the new measures notably include the Hauts-de-France region of northeast France which covers the city of Lille, and the Alpes-Maritimes on the Mediterranean, as well as Seine-Maritime and the Eure in the north.

People, wearing protective face masks, queue outside a H&M clothing store on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris as the French capital will enter at midnight

On the Champes Elysees avenue in Paris people were seen queuing outside several clothing stores, including H&M and Zara

In Lille, northern France, residents gathered together outside in the sunshine as parts of the country prepare for another lockdown

Health minister Olivier Veran expressed hope that this regional lockdown would be the last, with the situation helped by the onset spring and the vaccination campaign.

As in previous lockdowns, a form written out or downloaded on a phone will be needed to justify why a person has left the home in areas under the new restrictions.

Outdoor exercise is allowed up to six miles from home for an unlimited amount of time but non-essential shops will have to close.

However bookshops – deemed as essential to public wellbeing – can stay open and hair salons could also remain open with reinforced sanitary protocols. 

The move comes after France on Wednesday announced its biggest daily rise in Covid cases since its most recent lockdown was lifted in late November last year.  

While Covid deaths in France have been steadily falling since last year, there are fears the trend could reverse as hospital intensive care wards are overwhelmed


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Paris has been at the forefront of France’s third wave of Covid, with patients evacuated from hospitals in the city on Monday after intensive care beds ran out

Macron, who visited hospitals in Paris on Wednesday, said any new measures would be ‘proportionate’ and made on a territory-by-territory basis

The streets of Nice are deserted. The people of Nice took advantage of the last hours of ‘freedom’ to rush into the shops which will have to close on Saturday

The city of Nice, like the whole of the Alpes-Maritimes department, is once again under lockdown from this Friday March 19

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