Covid France: Vandals attack and set on fire two vaccine centres

One centre in the south-east was put out of use and 'Vaccin = genocide' was written on nearby buildings. Another in the south west was partially damaged as more than 110,000 protested against new Covid rules

19 July 2021
Anti health pass protestors in Paris. Covid France: Vandals attack and set on fire two vaccine centres

Protestors marched against extending the use of the health pass throughout France Pic: S. Pech / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

Two French vaccine centres were vandalised so badly over the weekend (July 17-18) that they have been put out of use. 

The first in Lans-en-Vercors, Isère, was set on fire on Friday night (July 16). A police investigation has been opened into the incident.

Anti-vaccine slogans were graffitied on buildings and monuments in the commune, reading ARN = danger and Vaccin = genocide

The 2,600-person commune will reopen a new vaccine centre next weekend.

In the meantime, Mayor Michaël Kraemer told Le Dauphiné libéré: “We are paying the price for high profile national politicians who are using suspicion against the vaccine to their advantage.”

A second vaccine centre was also set on fire in Urrugne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, on Saturday night (July 17).

Mayor Philippe Aramendi said: “I was called at 03:00 in the morning and we understood that an inflammable product had been spread around the tent [housing the vaccine centre]. Thankfully the firefighters were able to control the flame, and just a part of the centre was damaged.”

The centre is expected to be closed until Wednesday, July 21.

Mr Aramendi said it was “sad” to think that there were anti-vaxxers in the commune and called the destruction of the centre “unacceptable”. 

A police investigation has been opened.

Throughout France on Saturday almost 114,000 people protested against the new rules for extending the use of the health pass, which will make it more difficult for people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 to access public spaces including restaurants, cinemas, gyms and long-distance transport.

To access these spaces people will need to show proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 48 hours or proof of having had Covid-19 already and so being considered immune.

PCR tests will cost €49 without prescription from autumn, while vaccination will remain free. 

Read more: Cafes, trains, restaurants: France extends health pass, the new rules

Following the protests, an MP was kicked out of the party Libertés et territoires for urging protestors to ‘invade’ MPs’ constituency offices.

Martine Wonner, MP for Bas-Rhin, attended the protests in Paris where she described the new rules as a “health dictatorship”.

She then encouraged protestors to “beseige MPs” and “invade their constituency surgeries” to show their opposition to the new measures.

This led to calls from MPs for her to be excluded from parliament, with Christophe Castaner, head of MPs for President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party, saying authorities should investigate whether legal action should be taken against the MP.

On Sunday, July 18, Libertés et territoires released a statement saying that Ms Wonner’s actions were “unacceptable”, and that she was no longer a member of their party.

Ms Wonner was previously kicked out of LREM in May 2020 after voting against deconfinement plans. 

She told AFP: “Once again my words have been misinterpreted by people who are prejudiced. I was talking about MPs responding directly to citizens, who cannot bear getting responses from their elected officials by mail, telephone or email.”

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