Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across France over the weekend to demonstrate against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport mandate that prevents unvaccinated individuals from entering restaurants, bars, and using long-distance travel.
France’s Interior Ministry told Reuters that 215,000 people are estimated to have protested, which is down slightly from the 237,000 people who demonstrated a week before that.
Protesters often chanted “freedom,” “pass = apartheid,” “take back your pass,” referring to the vaccine passport. Some French citizens told news outlets that they partook in the demonstrations because the COVID-19 passports limit their freedoms and is a way to segregate society for political purposes, not for health reasons.
Crowds were seen marching in Paris, Nice, Marseille, and other cities.
Weeks ago, the French Parliament passed the COVID-19 health pass law, requiring citizens to show the pass in public areas, proving they’ve been vaccinated or recently tested negative for the virus. The country’s top court earlier this month upheld the law as well as a law mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all health workers.
And while some media outlets claimed the protests were part of the “anti-vax” movement, many French demonstrators have said they support the vaccines but not restrictions.
“I am for the vaccine and had it months ago, but not the health pass, which is discriminatory,” one protester said on Saturday, reported the Guardian.
Some 1,600 police were deployed for three separate marches in Paris. Authorities did not provide information on whether there were any arrests.
As of late Friday, 46.1 million people in France, nearly 68.5 percent of the population, had received at least one vaccine shot and more than 38.8 million, or 57.5 percent, had gotten two shots.
Over the past weekend, there were also demonstrations in Quebec, Canada, which recently mandated COVID-19 vaccine passports for restaurants, bars, and gyms.
“It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us” to get vaccinated, said Veronique Whalen, of Montreal, in a comment to France24.
This week, New York City is slated to debut its vaccine passport system at restaurants, gyms, theaters, and bars, although certain demographics in the city have very low vaccination rates. About 67 percent of black New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 44 have received no doses of any COVID-19 vaccines to date, according to data provided by the city.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times