Protests flared in France and Greece on Wednesday as residents angry over coronavirus curbs and vaccine mandates in both countries marched against new, stricter regulations that they say discriminate against people unwilling to be inoculated.

In Paris, demonstrators clashed with police after French President Emmanuel Macron announced sweeping measures to fight the pandemic earlier this week. He mandated vaccinations for all health-care workers and said new rules would require unvaccinated people to show negative coronavirus tests before entering bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues.

Also this week, Greek authorities said all medical workers would need to be immunized or face penalties, and only vaccinated individuals would be allowed to use public indoor spaces until Aug. 31, through the height of Greece’s tourism season. The policies prompted demonstrations in Athens, where thousands gathered outside parliament Wednesday under heavy police presence, Reuters reported.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Regional authorities in Barcelona Thursday were waiting for a judge to greenlight their decision to impose a nightly curfew in northeastern Spain as the delta variant spreads. A Spanish court had ruled the previous day that strict rules confining residents to their homes last year in an effort to curb infections were unconstitutional.
  • New coronavirus cases in Tokyo again hit a six-month high Thursday, with more than 1,300 infections reported in the Japanese capital during the past 24 hours, just eight days before the start of the Olympic Games.
  • Australian officials in Melbourne said Thursday they were putting the city and the rest of Victoria state in a snap five-day lockdown, as a growing outbreak of the more virulent [actually the least virulent but more infectious--Nass] delta variant eludes the country’s otherwise successful pandemic response.
  • Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most-populous country, has emerged as the hotbed of the pandemic in Asia as it battles the spread of the delta variant. The Muslim-majority nation recorded its highest number of daily cases on Wednesday, registering more than 54,000 infections.

The unrest in France and Greece has underscored the difficulty that some leaders face in weighing public health during a pandemic against policies that appear to encroach [only "appear" to encroach?] on individual freedom. The struggle has been exacerbated by the recent spread of more contagious variants of the virus, including the delta variant, which the World Health Organization says is on track to become dominant around the globe.  [Delta is the mildest, so the best variant to get to obtain durable immunity.  Then treat early.]

In Russia, for example, vaccine mandates and digital health passes for restaurants and bars in Moscow and other cities have been deeply unpopular. Last month, authorities in the capital said 60 percent of public-facing employees — from teachers to taxi drivers to salespeople — must be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15.

Moscow’s Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Wednesday that the majority of medical workers, teachers and social workers in the city were inoculated. But in a recent poll by the independent Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians said they were not ready to get one of the locally made shots.

“It’s totally arbitrary and wholly undemocratic,” on protesters in Paris, who identified himself only as Jean-Louis, told Reuters of the French restrictions Wednesday.

While France struggles with widespread vaccine hesitancy, Macron’s announcement has also spurred hundreds of thousands of people to book immunization appointments in recent days.

In Athens, protesters were particularly incensed by government plans to open vaccinations to teenagers, according to media reports, calling the vaccine “poison” and chanting, “Hands off our kids!”

But most Greek residents have either been vaccinated or plan to be in the near future, according to a Pulse survey on behalf of Skai TV. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, 48 percent of adults in Greece have been fully immunized, with 59 percent having received at least one dose.