Paris — Protesters marched through cities across France for the fifth straight week, contrary to the rules that force them to present their COVID-19 health pass to their daily activities.
The crowd ran through the streets of Paris, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier and other towns, waving a placard with the words “Pass = Apartheid” and chanting “Freedom, freedom”.
Since last Monday, citizens have had to present their pass in public places and have been vaccinated or recently proven to be coronavirus negative.
After a week of generosity from police, the government has vowed to tighten health pass checks, and tests are no longer free from October unless prescribed by a doctor.
The protests have united different groups against the law of President Emmanuel Macron. It aims to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections throughout France and protect the country’s economic recovery.
According to the Interior Ministry, the total number of participants in recent protests was estimated to be 215,000 after steadily increasing from 114,000 on the first Saturday of July 17 to 237,000 on August 7.
Authorities initially predicted that 217 overwhelmingly peaceful rallies across the country would add to a total of about 250,000 demonstrators.
The number of people receiving COVID-19 treatment in the intensive care unit has more than doubled in less than a month, reaching 1,831 as of Friday. This is less than one-third of the third blockade peak at 6,001, but high enough to trigger restrictions in certain areas.
According to health ministry data, 9 out of 10 COVID-19 patients recently admitted to the intensive care unit were unvaccinated. Studies show that the majority of French people support a health pass.
Among the protesters are the remnants of the rebel “Yellow Vest” movement, which shook Macron’s leadership between 2018 and 2019, and other citizens who consider vaccine controversy or health paths to be discriminatory. ..
Vaccination rates have skyrocketed after Macron announced his health pass plan last month. Currently, almost 70% of all French are vaccinated once and 57.5% are fully vaccinated.
By Benoit Van Overstraeten and Michaela Cabrera