Oct 30, 2020 09:16 UTC

French police have used tear gas to disperse protesters, who took to the streets in defiance of the government’s second national lockdown, amid the surge of the coronavirus pandemic across the county.

Clashes erupted between police and protesters, who started a rally from Paris’ iconic Place de la Republique toward the city center, on Thursday night.

Protesters were chanting slogans against the lockdown, some launching fireworks, setting flares alight and overturning trash cans as they marched through Paris.

During the rally, demonstrators were met by a squad of riot police near the Center Pompidou, which fired tear gas at them.

Similar rallies were held across the country, including in the cities of Castres and Toulouse, where protesters were chanting “revolution” and “everyone hates confinement.”

The widespread protests follow President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of a new round of restrictive measures this week.

The measures are set to come into effect on Friday and will last at least until December 1.

This comes as France is being “overrun by a second wave” of the virus, which he predicted would be “harder” and “more deadly than the first,” according to the government.

As of Friday, the country has reported 1,327,852 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 36,058 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) data.

Just like the first national lockdown, people will be confined to their homes with the exception of those traveling for medical treatment and an allotted hour of daily exercise outdoors.

The government also ordered the shutdown of “non-essential” businesses for a period of two weeks.

Under the new rules, schools, however, will largely remain open around the country.