For the fourth consecutive weekend, thousands of demonstrators in France took to the streets to protest against the country’s strict new COVID-19 rules, including a so-called “health pass” that restricts non-vaccinated people from entering restaurants, bars, gyms, and other venues.
There were some outbursts of violence in the French city of Toulouse. Police officers and other security forces were seen deploying tear gas at the demonstrators. However, many protesters in the city, located near the border with Spain, appeared to be peaceful.
With French riot police on guard, a largely peaceful crowd walked across Paris carrying banners that read: “Our freedoms are dying” as well as “Vaccine: Don’t touch our kids.” Some were also upset that the government has made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health care workers by Sept. 15.
The French Interior Ministry said there were 237,000 protesters nationwide, including 17,000 in Paris, which may be the largest demonstrations yet against the vaccine passports.
Last week, France’s top court upheld that the majority of the “health pass” law that was passed in Parliament days before complied with the nation’s founding charter. The court also found that a mandate requiring health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine also did not violate the law.
In a notice issued on July 29, French residents were required to “present a health pass to access leisure and culture venues and events bringing together more than 50 people,” according to a notice from the French government.
Starting on Monday, the health passes will be required to enter bars, restaurants, and malls—as well as accessing long-distance travel via train, bus, or plane.
The pass was heavily promoted by French President Emmanuel Macron, and it requires either a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination. Macron also announced in mid-July that all health workers have to receive the vaccine by Sept. 15.
According to government data, about 54 percent of France’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.
In the United States, New York City last week became the first city to mandate a similar vaccine passport-style system for residents to enter bars, restaurants, and gyms.
A number of restaurant owners and shop owners said they were taken aback by the new requirement, with some asserting that New York City officials are forcing them to effectively act as the police in enforcing the mandate. In media interviews, some restaurant owners also said it’s not clear how they would even enforce the rule.
Vaccine passport systems have been flagged by the World Health Organization and civil liberties groups for a variety of reasons including that they might create a two-tiered, caste-based society of the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Some Republican-led states have moved to ban them at the state level.
“There’s a lot that can go wrong with ‘vaccine passport,'” wrote the American Civil Liberties Union, adding that any “vaccine credentials must be primarily paper-based, decentralized, and protect privacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times