Hundreds of protesters rallied in Beirut, Lebanon, on Saturday to protest new COVID-19 vaccine measures imposed against the unvaccinated.

As of Monday, citizens must either be fully vaccinated or show a negative PCR test to enter restaurants and other venues.

A protester holds a placard during a rally to protest new measures imposed against people who are not vaccinated, in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

The new measures on Monday will also target civil servants, who must either be fully vaccinated or take regular PCR tests in order to be able to go to work. However, many civil servants cannot afford to pay for regular PCR tests given Lebanon’s severe economic crisis.

One protester said:

“We came here today to say we are free. This vaccine has not been tested yet and its side-effects are not known in the long-term so they cannot do the tests through us.”

Protesters hold placards and shout slogans during the rally

Health Minister Firass Abiad criticized the protesters in a tweet, saying that over 20,000 people had been vaccinated on Saturday alone as part of a government campaign focusing on students and teachers. Abiad added:

“Vaccines are not mandatory, and are free. They are offered to everyone, including refugees and foreign migrant workers. Finally, vaccines save lives, but for some, ignorance is bliss.

A video report of the protest on Saturday:

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