Protesters dined while sitting on the ground outside cafes and restaurants in the French city of Reims on Wednesday, rejecting the country’s restrictive Covid-19 health-pass system.
In an action dubbed “the giant picnic”, people sat on the cobbles of Erlon Square, enjoying their meals outside cafes and restaurants where they could not enter unless they had a valid health pass.
The calm protest was different from louder demonstrations against Covid-related restrictions that have been taking place in the last six weeks. During such rallies, participants banged on drums, carried flags and placards, and sometimes clashed with police in Paris and elsewhere.
The use of health passes was expanded in France last month as the country has been fighting against a surge in infections with the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.
Proof of vaccination status or a negative Covid-19 test are required to access leisure and cultural venues and events bringing together more than 50 people, as well as bars and restaurants, and for long-distance travel by plane, train or bus.
The government also mandated that medical workers, caregivers, firefighters and police officers get vaccinated by September 15. The measure prompted a backlash among people in these professions and led some unions to call for strikes.