Tens of thousands of activists took to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Saturday, for the seventh weekend running, to protest against health-pass requirements imposed by the Government.
Various processions of marchers took off through the streets of the French capital in the early afternoon, with “freedom” and “resistance” among their main message, according to journalists at the French news agency AFP.
“I’m not against the vaccine but against the vaccine passport,” David Vidal Ponsard, a member of former National Front Vice-President Florian Philippot’s Mouvement des Patriotes, said as he mobilised his troops around the Military School in Paris.
A rival procession made up mainly of “Gilets Jaunes” took off from the Place de la Bourse, protesting what it saw as “propaganda” by media and the government about the Covid vaccine and the pass.
Since July, hundreds of thousands of persons have marched each Saturday against health measures imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Thus far there have been no major incidents.
The protesters’ main target is a health pass required to enter restaurants, bars, long-distance public transport and hospitals. Since 16 August, the pass is also required in many shopping centres. From Monday, people employed in places where the pass is required by customers will also need to have it or risk seeing their employment contracts suspended.
The pass requirement could be extended beyond 15 November “if Covid does not disappear from our lives,” Health Minister Olivier Véran warned recently.
The authorities anticipated “between 140,000 and 180,000 demonstrators” on Saturday, according to a police source. On Saturday last, the Interior Ministry reported 175,000 protesters, while the militant collective, Le Nombre Jaune, claimed there were “at least” 361,818.
In addition to Paris, demonstrations have been held in over 200 cities, from Rennes to Toulouse, including Lyon, Lille, Valence and Perpignan.
The latest figures from the French Health Ministry show that over 48 million French people – 71% of the population – have received at least one injection, while 42.7 million have had both prescribed doses.