French Protest New Virus Pass

Polls show majority support, but opponents are hitting the streets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 31, 2021 2:15 PM CDT
Thousands Oppose France's Virus Pass
Protesters raise their fists during a demonstration against a new health pass Saturday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Adrienne Surprenant)

Thousands of people protested France's special virus pass by marching through Paris and other cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but some protesters in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas. Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places, the AP reports. Police took up posts along Paris' Champs-Elysees to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue. With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of the French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The law requires vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19, and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers. The announcement that the pass would take effect on Aug. 9 has driven many of the unvaccinated to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won't be shut down.

For anti-pass demonstrators, "liberty" was the slogan of the day. Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job. "I think that we mustn't be told what to do," she said. "And now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated. I think it is sickening." Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters. Officers used their fists on several occasions. Three officers were injured, the French press reported. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille. More than 24,000 new coronavirus cases daily were confirmed Friday night—compared to just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the population has been vaccinated.

(More France stories.)

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