Thousands of people march against the French Covid health pass for the fifth consecutive week

Protesters marched in cities across France for the fifth weekend in a row in what could be the largest demonstration yet against rules that require them to display a COVID-19 health pass for daily activities.

They marched through the streets of Paris, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier and other cities waving banners reading “Pass = Apartheid” and chanting “Freedom, freedom.”

Since last Monday, citizens have been required to show the pass in public places, proving that they have been vaccinated or have recently tested negative for the coronavirus.

After a week of leniency by the police, the government has vowed to tighten medical controls. And the tests, unless prescribed by a doctor, will no longer be free from October.

The number of protesters has more than doubled between the first and fourth Saturday of the protest, from 114,000 on July 17 to 237,000 on August 7.

Authorities estimate that the more than 200 ongoing demonstrations in the country will number around 250,000 protesters.

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The protests have united a disparate group against President Emmanuel Macron’s legislation, which is meant to help contain a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections spreading through France and help safeguard the country’s economic recovery.

The number of people treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units has more than doubled in less than a month, standing at 1,831 as of Friday, a figure more than three times lower than the third lockdown peak of 6,001, but enough high enough to trigger new restrictive measures in certain areas.

Data from the Health Ministry showed that nine out of 10 COVID patients recently admitted to intensive care had not been vaccinated. Most French people support the health pass, polls show.

Among the protesters are remnants of the anti-government “Yellow Vest” movement that shook Macron’s leadership during 2018-2019, and also other citizens who are against vaccines or consider that the health pass is discriminatory.

Vaccination rates rose after Macron unveiled his health pass plans last month. Almost 70% of all French people have already received a dose and 57.5% are fully vaccinated.

(REUTERS)

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