French police use teargas at gilet jaunes protest in Paris

French authorities deployed a heavy police presence in Paris and used teargas as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement returned to the capital after being dampened by the coronavirus crisis.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered at two squares in Paris for authorised marches. One cortege set off without incidents but the other march was delayed after police used teargas to disperse protesters who left the designated route and some of whom set fire to waste bins and a car.

The authorities had banned protests in a central zone including the Champs-Elysees, the scene of rioting at the height of the yellow vest movement nearly two years ago when anger over fuel taxes and President Emmanuel Macron’s style of rule brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets across France.

Police said they had made 154 arrests by 1pm local time.

The renewed mobilisation of the yellow vests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets that became the symbol of the movement, comes as France is grappling with a resurgence in cases of the coronavirus.

France cases

The country’s daily cases of Covid-19 set a record high on Thursday at nearly 10,000, while the number of people being treated in hospital has increased steadily this month.

The French prime minister, Jean Castex, announced on Friday plans to speed up testing and toughen measures in certain cities, but said the government wanted to avoid another nationwide lockdown.

Police called on Saturday’s demonstrators to respect sanitary measures in Paris, which is among France’s coronavirus “red zones” and where it is compulsory to wear a face mask in the street everywhere in the city.

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