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Scaled-down Bastille Day parade pays homage to French health workers

Scaled-down Bastille Day parade pays homage to French health workers

DPA
Paris
France on Tuesday paid homage to medical workers for their role in the fight against the coronavirus as part of a Bastille Day parade slimmed down to respect health precautions.
Instead of the traditional military parade down the Champs Elysees, President Emmanuel Macron oversaw a smaller military display on the nearby Place de la Concorde.
The public was not allowed to view the display this year, but health workers and the families of medical staff who died fighting the epidemic took pride of place among the invited guests.
The health ministers of Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland were guests of honour, as a mark of thanks to those countries for taking in virus patients from crowded French hospitals.
France was hit hard by the virus, with more than 30,000 deaths. A strict lockdown was put in place from mid-March to mid-May.
Some 2,000 military personnel stood in square formations around the Place de la Concorde as an initial display paid tribute to General Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French forces during World War II and founder in 1958 of the current Fifth Republic.
This year marks the 130th anniversary of his birth, the 80th anniversary of his appeal from London for the French to continue fighting against Nazi Germany despite the government’s surrender, and the 50th anniversary of his death.
One part of the traditional ceremony was able to go ahead as usual despite coronavirus precautions - the fly-past by display and working units of the French air force. The Bastille Day parade comes a day after the government signed a deal with unions to put $8.6 billion into health workers’ pay hike.