Thousands of French protesters marched across Paris on July 31. They oppose new mandatory vaccinations for healthcare staff and vaccine passports.
The country’s government recently resorted to emergency powers for new anti-coronavirus measures. The extraordinary step prompted some 150 demonstrations across major cities and towns.
More than 160,000 people marched in the City of Light and other settlements to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccine campaign. Similar attendance is expected at future protests.
For a third Saturday of protests 3,000 security forces were deployed across the nation’s capitol. Police cordoned off Champs-Elysees to prevent further rioting along the iconic tourist attraction.
According to polls, up to 65 percent of respondents support Macron’s decision to force health professionals to be immunized. However, many people who were not surveyed strongly oppose the measure. Photographs show thousands of concerned citizens rallying across the capitol.
French parliament recently enacted an emergency bill that requires a health permit for admission to cafés, restaurants, shopping malls, trains, and long-distance buses. The changes took effect on Aug. 2.
The law mandates vaccination for all health care employees by mid-September. It also requires either a speedy negative test or confirmation of recent recovery from COVID-19.
Even the protesters themselves will be required to produce a valid vaccine passport before being allowed to enter venues or march through the city, according to the Daily Mail.
During a national day of protest demonstrators gathered at the Villiers subway station in northwest Paris. They held banners and placards, one of which said the “4th wave is us.”
Four different rallies were staged in Paris on July 31, and the day’s slogan was “liberty.” Some protestors advanced to the Arc de Triomphe, on the western end of Champs-Elysees, where police sprayed them with water cannons and tear gas.
One of the noteworthy absences was Francois Asselineau, who leads the anti-EU Popular Republican Union party. He is an outspoken opponent of the health pass and did not attend the protest after catching the deadly disease himself.
Asselineau still urged everyone to oppose the “absurd, unjust, and totally liberty-killing” health act in a video shared on the party website.
Nurse Hager Ameur, 37, resigned after accusing the government of blackmail.
“I think that we must not be told what to do,” she said according to the Associated Press.
Ameur revealed French medical professionals were mistreated during the first wave of COVID-19.
“Now, suddenly we are told that if we do not get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated,” she said according to the newswire agency. “I think it is sickening.”
The government confirmed the new health pass requirement will come into force on Aug. 9. Many unvaccinated French people have signed up for the jab to avoid interrupting their summer vacation plans.
Vaccines are now available in many locations, even at certain beaches. More than 52 percent of the French population has been immunized.
Since the start of the epidemic more than 112,000 people have died from the virus across France.