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Tens of thousands of protestors take to the streets of Paris against controversial vaccine passport


Tens of thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris for the fifth successive weekend against the new rules after it was launched despite fierce opposition.

French President Emmanuel Macron sees the health pass – which essentially makes vaccination mandatory in order to carry on with routine activities like sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on a train – as the key to emerging from the pandemic and avoiding further lockdowns.  

But protesters – an eclectic mix of far-right, yellow vest anti-inequality activists, anti-vaxxers and civil liberties campaigners – say that the policy encroaches on the basic freedoms so prized by the French. 

Two separate protests were taking place in Paris – in a sign of the inability of the protesters to fully unite – with slogans like ‘free France!’, ‘stop the corona-madness’ or ‘yes to the freedom to choose’ being chanted and brandished.  

Head of right-wing party ‘Les Patriotes’ Floriant Philippot lead one of the marches under a banner reading ‘Freedom’ in Paris on Saturday, with 250,000 protesters expected to take to the streets nationwide.      

Thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris for the fifth successive weekend against the new rules after it was launched despite fierce opposition

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the health pass - which essentially makes vaccination mandatory in order to carry on with routine activities like sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on a train - as the key to emerging from the pandemic and avoiding further lockdowns

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the health pass – which essentially makes vaccination mandatory in order to carry on with routine activities like sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on a train – as the key to emerging from the pandemic and avoiding further lockdowns

Two separate protests were taking place in Paris with slogans like 'free France!', 'stop the corona-madness' or 'yes to the freedom to choose' being chanted and brandished

Two separate protests were taking place in Paris with slogans like ‘free France!’, ‘stop the corona-madness’ or ‘yes to the freedom to choose’ being chanted and brandished

Thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris in opposition to the new rules after it was launched amid backlash

Thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris in opposition to the new rules after it was launched amid backlash

Head of right-wing party 'Les Patriotes' Floriant Philippot lead the march behind a banner reading 'Freedom' in Paris on Saturday 14 August

Head of right-wing party ‘Les Patriotes’ Floriant Philippot lead the march behind a banner reading ‘Freedom’ in Paris on Saturday 14 August 

Authorities were set to get tougher on the mandatory health pass for entering restaurants, trains and public places.

From this week, citizens have been required to show the pass in public places, proving that they have been vaccinated or have recently been tested negative for the coronavirus.

While police had instructions to be lenient the first week, the government has vowed to get tougher on health pass checks from next week.

And with testing set to be no longer free from October, many went to vaccination centres with heavy hearts in order to get the pass and be able to carry on with their lives as normal. 

France has registered 6.39 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 112,468 deaths since the start of the pandemic.   

More than 45 million French people have been vaccinated with at least one jab, with an increase after President Emmanuel Macron’s July 12 speech where he announced the health pass and mandatory vaccination for health workers.

But distrust of the vaccine and the government’s Covid policies remains deep as France heads for a fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations.   

Members of the Gendarmerie face protesters in Paris on the fifth consecutive weekend of demonstrations against a vaccine pass introduced on France on Monday

Members of the Gendarmerie face protesters in Paris on the fifth consecutive weekend of demonstrations against a vaccine pass introduced on France on Monday

Tens of thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris for the fifth successive weekend against the new rules after it was launched despite fierce opposition

Tens of thousands of anti-vaccine pass protestors took to the streets in Paris for the fifth successive weekend against the new rules after it was launched despite fierce opposition

A protester carries a sign with a caricature of French President Emmanuel Macron, with the slogan 'Macron takes the French for idiots, Episode 75'

A protester carries a sign with a caricature of French President Emmanuel Macron, with the slogan ‘Macron takes the French for idiots, Episode 75’

Anti-health pass protesters face off with members of the Gendarmerie in Paris as more than 250,000 take to the streets across France on Saturday

Anti-health pass protesters face off with members of the Gendarmerie in Paris as more than 250,000 take to the streets across France on Saturday

A protester carries a bright yellow sign reading 'Voluntary servitude is over' at a rally against France's health pass, introduced on Monday

A protester carries a bright yellow sign reading ‘Voluntary servitude is over’ at a rally against France’s health pass, introduced on Monday

A protester dons a sticker reading 'Stop the health dictatorship' during a rally against France's health pass, which essentially makes vaccination mandatory in order to carry on with routine activities like sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on a train

A protester dons a sticker reading ‘Stop the health dictatorship’ during a rally against France’s health pass, which essentially makes vaccination mandatory in order to carry on with routine activities like sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on a train

A protester carries a bright yellow sign reading 'Equality, Liberty, ?, my QR code', at a rally against France's health pass, introduced on Monday

A protester carries a bright yellow sign reading ‘Equality, Liberty, ?, my QR code’, at a rally against France’s health pass, introduced on Monday

The new rules championed by Macron make it obligatory to have either a full course of vaccination against Covid-19, be in possession of a negative test, or be recently recovered from the virus to enjoy usually routine activities. 

‘I detest the idea that the authorities can go as far as they like,’ said Marie Huguet, a pensioner, taking part in Paris in a protest organised by the yellow vests who shook Macron with mass protests from 2018-2019.

While Yann Fontaine, 30, said he believed the health pass is a measure that ‘kills freedom and is segregationist’.

Macron, who faces re-election next year, hopes the new rules will encourage all French to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and defeat the virus and its fast-spreading Delta variant.

Measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19 have been controversial in France, with opponents, who have turned out en masse in the streets, arguing that the rules encroach on civil liberties in a country where individual freedom is prized.

The health pass, introduced on Monday, is needed to eat in a restaurant or enjoy a drink in a cafe both indoors and on a terrace. It will be obligatory on inter-city transport including high-speed trains and domestic flights although will not be needed on metro systems and suburban transport.  

The demonstration is against the COVID-19 sanitary pass that grants individuals greater ease of access to venues in France and will become mandatory

The demonstration is against the COVID-19 sanitary pass that grants individuals greater ease of access to venues in France and will become mandatory

People took to the streets and waved flags to condemn the health pass, which is needed for entering restaurants, trains and public places

People took to the streets and waved flags to condemn the health pass, which is needed for entering restaurants, trains and public places

Floriant Philippot (pictured) attended the demonstration with his right-wing party to oppose the French government's new policy

Floriant Philippot (pictured) attended the demonstration with his right-wing party to oppose the French government’s new policy 

A woman joins the crowd of unmasked protestors and holds a sign which reads 'no to health pass'. More than 45 million French people have been vaccinated with at least one jab

A woman joins the crowd of unmasked protestors and holds a sign which reads ‘no to health pass’. More than 45 million French people have been vaccinated with at least one jab

Protests against the controversial ‘pass sanitaire’ have shown signs of diminishing and increasing numbers of demonstrators have taken to the streets each weekend. 

About 237,000 people turned out last Saturday across France, including 17,000 in Paris, the interior ministry said, exceeding the 204,000 recorded the weekend before and numbers extremely unusual for protests at the height of the summer break.       

Protesters accuse the government of downplaying the numbers taking to the streets. A collective called Le Nombre Jaune published a detailed breakdown city by city on Facebook in a bid to show the actual numbers last week were 415,000. 

Other protests were taking place in cities, especially in the south, including Toulon, Montpellier, Nice, Marseille and Perpignan, where numbers have sometimes exceeded those in Paris.  

Macron, who faces re-election next year, has shown little patience with the demands of the protesters while his Health Minister Olivier Veran last week lashed out at a movement ‘about which we are talking far too much’.

Analysts have said Macron thrives on taking on a protest movement – as was the case with the yellow vests – as it plays well with his core centrist supporters but the government needs to be attentive to the fact the protests are continuing.

The government has also expressed alarm over anti-Semitic elements at some rallies and a teacher in the eastern city of Metz will go on trial next month accused of seeking to incite racial hatred after brandishing a sign at a protest last week that police said was clearly anti-Semitic. 

Distrust of the vaccine and the government's Covid policies remains deep as France heads for a fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations

Distrust of the vaccine and the government’s Covid policies remains deep as France heads for a fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations

The pass has already been required since July 21 to visit cultural venues such as cinemas, theatres and museums but will now be required for restaurants. Protestors held a banner which read Freedom

The pass has already been required since July 21 to visit cultural venues such as cinemas, theatres and museums but will now be required for restaurants. Protestors held a banner which read Freedom 

A protestor carried a sign which reads 'say it clearly' as thousands took to the streets in the capital to express their anger at the passports

A protestor carried a sign which reads ‘say it clearly’ as thousands took to the streets in the capital to express their anger at the passports 

People demonstrated against the new rules which make it obligatory to have either a full course of vaccination against Covid-19 , be in possession of a negative test or be recently recovered from the virus to enjoy usually routine activities

People demonstrated against the new rules which make it obligatory to have either a full course of vaccination against Covid-19 , be in possession of a negative test or be recently recovered from the virus to enjoy usually routine activities

Measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19 have been controversial in France, with opponents, who have turned out en masse in the streets, arguing that the rules encroach on civil liberties in a country where individual freedom is prized

Measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19 have been controversial in France, with opponents, who have turned out en masse in the streets, arguing that the rules encroach on civil liberties in a country where individual freedom is prized



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