Anti-vaccine pass protests erupt across France
Over 100,000 anti-vaccine protestors took the streets in France again on Saturday, opposing upcoming vaccine pass requirements as daily coronavirus cases skyrocketed to more than 300,000.
The demonstrations were also fueled by anger against President Emmanuel Macron’s recent vow to “piss off the unvaccinated” by restricting their entry to public places so they feel compelled to get the jab.
The interior ministry estimated nearly 105,200 people participated in 179 rallies, including 18,000 in Paris, the BFMTV news channel reported.
In several places, demonstrations turned violent as police fired teargas at angry demonstrators with at least 34 arrested and 10 police personnel injured in clashes.
Demonstrators, the majority of whom marched without masks, chanted derogatory slogans against Macron, raising banners that said: “Resistance for our freedoms — no digital pass, no vaccine,” “Freedom,” and “Piss off Macron.”
In separate rallies, groups of vaccinated people gathered in a show of support for Macron and applauded him for the vaccine pass bill.
“Thanks, Macron for thinking about us,” protestors in Mulhouse commune cheered.
The bill, approved earlier this week by the lower house of parliament, mandates anyone above the age of 12 to prove their complete vaccination status — including their third booster shot — to enter restaurants, cafes, bars, public transport, movie theaters, sports centers and other public venues.
Unlike earlier health pass measures, it will no longer accept a negative PCR test from the unvaccinated.
There are nearly 5.3 million people in the country who have chosen to remain unvaccinated.
The demonstrations took place amid a worsening health situation as the record of COVID-19 cases exceeded the 300,000 mark for the third day in a week.
The public health authority detected 303,669 new cases in the last 24 hours, a day after 328,214 people tested positive. On Wednesday, daily infections numbered 332,252.