Paris bans French 'freedom convoy' protests from the capital

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A French activist holds a Canadian flag before the start of their "Convoi de la liberte" (The Freedom Convoy), a vehicular convoy protest converging on Paris to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine and restrictions in Nice, France, February 9, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT

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PARIS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - French "freedom convoy" motorists protesting against COVID-19 restrictions will be blocked from entering Paris, the French capital's police authority said on Thursday.

Protesters set out from southern France on Wednesday in what they call a "freedom convoy" that will converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions, inspired by demonstrators who have gridlocked the Canadian capital Ottawa.

Departures are expected from more cities across France on Thursday.

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The Paris prefecture said the protesters would be prohibited from entering the capital from Feb. 11-14, citing the risk of public disorder.

In Canada, horn-blaring demonstrations demanding an end to Canadian COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers are now spilling to key Canada-United States border crossings.

Copycat protests have also sprung up in Australia and New Zealand read more . Protesters waved the Canadian flag as France's "freedom convoy" got underway. read more

Motorists who violated the order not to protest within Paris risked two years in prison, a 4,500 euro fine and suspended driver's license, the prefecture cautioned.

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Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Richard Lough Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Toby Chopra

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