Fourth edition of French protests against health pass draws bigger crowds
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Fourth edition of French protests against health pass draws bigger crowds

Demonstrators hold up banners and placards, one of which reads as 'no to the pass of shame', during a national day of protest against the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for certain workers and the compulsory use of the health pass called for by the French government in Bordeaux, south-western France. Credit: Belga

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of French cities on Saturday to show opposition to new legislation extending measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The protests against compulsory vaccination for health workers and the need to produce either a health pass proving vaccination against Covid-19, a negative PCR test, or proof of recovery from the virus to enter an increased number of public places, mobilised some 237,000 demonstrators countrywide, according to the Interior Ministry.

In Paris, about 17,000 people took part in the protests, which marked the fourth consecutive weekend of demonstrations against the new legislation, passed by Parliament on 25 July and approved by the Constitutional Council on Thursday.

The measures apply to restaurants, showrooms, salons, and long-distance travel on trains, buses or planes, and take effect from Monday.

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Saturday’s demonstrations, which were generally calm, mobilised 33,000 more people than the 31 July edition. In fact, the number of participants was more than double the 114,000 that took part in the first weekend of action against the measures, on 17 July.

Few incidents were reported. There were just 35 arrests while seven members of the security forces were injured, for a total of 198 protest actions. In Paris, four people had been detained by 5:00 PM, according to the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

The crowd that marched through the streets of France’s cities was diverse, from firefighters and health workers in uniform to ‘Yellow Vests’ and extreme-right activists.

Some were opposed to Covid vaccines, while others were for vaccination but against the extension of the health pass. A number of protesters brought their children along while, for some, this was their first ever demonstration.

Like last week, the biggest crowds were in the Southeast, where at least 47,000 persons demonstrated, according to the police and prefectures. They numbered about 19,000 in Toulon, close to 10,000 in Nice, 8,000 in Montpellier and at least 6,000 in Marseille, according to early estimates.

The Brussels Times