Bastille Day: France observes national day under shadow of Delta variant

French Air Force Patrouille de France perform during a rehearsal for the Bastille Day parade in Paris Monday, July 12, 2021
French Air Force Patrouille de France perform during a rehearsal for the Bastille Day parade in Paris Monday, July 12, 2021 Copyright Lewis Joly/AP
By Euronews
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France returns to its annual military parade down the Champs-Élysées after it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is leading Bastille Day commemorations on Wednesday as the country faces a rise in coronavirus cases fueled by the more contagious Delta variant.

Last year's display paid homage to health workers, as France grappled with the pandemic.

This year marks a return to a more traditional military parade, but COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. Only 15,000 people have been allowed in the stands instead of 25,000 under normal circumstances.

Attendees are wearing face masks and had to show a health pass.

The European special forces in the Sahel known as Takuba are playing a prominent role in this year's Bastille Day festivities. About 80 military troops from Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Holland opened the military parade on the Champs Elysées.

Their presence highlights the strategic role that Paris envisions for Takuba after Macron announced last month the official end of Operation Barkhane, a seven-year mission against jihadist groups in the Sahel.

Bastille Day is the French national holiday that commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789, when angry Paris crowds stormed the Bastille prisons.

Additional sources • AP, AFP

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