France holds Bastille Day celebration under coronavirus shadow
France on Wednesday held its annual Bastille Day celebrations with a traditional military parade down the famous avenue of the Champs Elysees in Paris amid restrictions on public gathering due to COVID-19.
Because of the deterioration of the health situation, only 10,000 people were allowed to follow the celebration in the stands instead of 25,000. Wearing masks is the rule for all, Paris police prefecture said.
Any spectator who wants to attend the ceremony should present the health pass. The certificate provides proof that a person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, holds a recent negative PCR test, or has recently recovered from the respiratory disease, it added.
Similar restrictions are in place for those gathering to attend fireworks shows at the Eiffel tower and in many French cities later in the evening.
This year's celebration coincides with a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant which may trigger a fourth wave of the pandemic by the end of the month.
On Tuesday, 6,950 people tested positive for the coronavirus, compared to 4,081 registered the same day last week. The cumulative number of cases now stands at 5.82 million, according to the Health Ministry's latest count.
"Faced with COVID-19, our vigilance must remain high," President Emmanuel Macron's office said.
In the shadow of the pandemic, Macron maintained the Bastille Day rituals, including the traditional fly-over by the French air force and traditional troops parade.
About 5,000 men and women from France's army, navy and air force took part in the military parade, along with 221 armored vehicles, 200 horses and 97 jets and helicopters.
Bastille Day is celebrated as France's national day on July 14. On this day of the year 1789, French citizens stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, sparking the French Revolution.