Thousands of demonstrators came to the streets in France for the fourth weekend in a row to protest the country’s tough new COVID-19 rules, which include a so-called “health permit” that prevents unvaccinated persons from entering restaurants, pubs, gyms, and other establishments.
Demonstrators marched in Paris, chanting slogans against vaccine passports and other mandates, according to video footage shared on social media.
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In the city of Toulouse, there were several violent outbursts. Tear gas was used by police officers and other security forces against the demonstrators. Many protestors in the city, which is close the Spanish border, looked to be peaceful.
According to film, tens of thousands of people marched in Nice, on the French Riviera, and protests were organized in Lille, in northern France.
With French riot police on the lookout, a mostly peaceful mob marched through Paris with placards reading “Our freedoms are disappearing” and “Vaccine: Don’t touch our kids.” Some were also angry that the government had made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health-care employees by September 15.
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According to the Interior Ministry, there were 237,000 protestors nationally, with 17,000 in Paris, possibly the largest anti-vaccine passport demonstrations yet.
Last week, France’s highest court ruled that the majority of the “health pass” law passed by Parliament just days before was in accordance with the country’s basic charter. A mandate forcing health-care professionals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was likewise determined not to be illegal by the court.
The French government announced on July 29 that residents must “present a health pass to access leisure and culture venues and events bringing together more than 50 people.” Starting August 9, health passes will be required to enter bars, restaurants, and malls, as well as long-distance travel by train, bus, or plane.
The pass, which requires either a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of full immunization, was extensively advocated by French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron also ordered in mid-July that all medical personnel must be vaccinated by September 15.
According to government statistics, around 54% of France’s population has received a complete vaccination against the virus.
New York became the first city in the United States to enforce a comparable vaccine passport-style system for people to enter bars, restaurants, and gyms last week.
The new requirement has surprised a lot of restaurant and business owners, with some claiming that New York officials are forcing them to practically act as cops in implementing the mandate. Some restaurant owners have also stated in media interviews that they are unsure how they will enforce the restriction.