For the sixth straight Saturday, protesters march against the COVID health pass they describe as a restriction of freedom.
Thousands of people have marched in cities across France to protest the COVID-19 health pass that is now required to access restaurants and cafes, cultural venues, sports arenas and long-distance travel.
On Saturday, opponents denounced what they saw as a restriction of their freedom for the seventh straight weekend. Many people criticized the measure, arguing that the French government was accidently making vaccines mandatory and unfairly restricting the rights of those who had not been vaccinated.
In Paris, four demonstrations were organised by different groups and more than 200 protests were taking place elsewhere in French cities and towns. Last week, more than 200,000 marchers turned out according to interior ministry figures, while organisers claim the real number is nearly double that.
The pass verifies that people have been fully vaccinated, have recently had a negative test, or have record of a recent COVID-19 recovery. It was also made mandatory for French health workers to be vaccinated by September 15 under the law authorizing it.
At the head of the Paris march in the early afternoon, a few hundred people held up flags and banners with the word “Liberty” on them while shouting “Macron! We don’t want your pass!”
Conspiracy theorists, antivaxers, former members of the anti-government “Yellow Vest” movement, and those concerned that the system unfairly produces a two-tier society have all joined the protest movement.
At the Paris rally on Saturday, far-right leader Florian Philippot, who has accused Macron of turning France into a dictatorship and likened the health pass to apartheid, was there.
Despite the protests, polls have shown that the majority of French people support the health pass. Millions have received their first vaccine shot since French President Emmanuel Macron announced the measure on July 12.
France has been reporting a high number of infections since last month – around 22,000 per day, a statistic that has remained unchanged over the previous week.
More than 47 million people in France, or 70.2 percent of the population, have received at least one vaccine shot and more than 40.5 million, or 60.5 percent, are fully vaccinated – a higher rate than in Germany and Italy and only slightly behind the United Kingdom.
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