French Police said on Thursday that any protests planned against vaccine mandates in Paris that blocked traffic were banned under the penalty of prison time.
The planned protests were inspired by the "Freedom Convoy" of truckers in Ottawa against the draconian coronavirus lockdown measures in Canada. On Thursday, health officials in four provinces relented and lifted restrictions from the pandemic.
The Paris Police Prefecture announced on the same day that protesters blocking traffic in the city would be subject to a possible sentence of two years in prison and a fine in Euros equal to about $5,150. Offenders could also face a three-year suspension of their driver's licenses, and organizers of such a protest would face even steeper penalties.
Online groups have called for protesters to converge in Paris on Friday night and drive to Brussels, the European Union’s capital, on Monday.
One Facebook group associated with the planned protests in Paris boasted more than 350,000 followers and was created in the wake of lockdown measures banning unvaccinated people from many public areas.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close claimed that the organizers did not seek permission for their demonstration to justify a ban on the protest in that city as well.
Some protesters have reportedly already started to make the trek to Paris despite the ban. Many are displaying Canadian flags, though most of these are drivers of cars and motorcycles, not trucks.
"We are just tired of it all. We want to go where we want without being asked for a vaccine pass," explained independent truck driver Nicolas Bourrat to Reuters.
"At least with this action, I am doing something," he added.
Coronavirus cases skyrocketed in France and hit a peak the last week of January with a seven day average of daily cases hitting 360,000. Since then, cases have plummeted to a seven day average of 165,000, prompting many to say the pandemic is receding.
Here's more about the banning of protest in Paris:
'Freedom Convoy' protest: Police ban truckers from entering Paris and Brussels • FRANCE 24 English www.youtube.com