Thousands of people protest against French Covid health pass rules
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More than 200,000 people marched through cities across France on Saturday in the largest turnout of three consecutive weekends of protests, calling for an end to what they see as draconian rules requiring them to be vaccinated against their will.
They marched through the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and elsewhere shouting “It’s a health dictatorship! and “No vaccination, no health card! In protests that included a wide range of social and political movements.
Convinced communists marched with supporters of the far-right National Rally and some of the yellow vests movement against a new law making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers and requiring a health pass for anyone wishing to enter public places such as restaurants, bars and high speed trains.
“This is an experimental vaccine, we don’t know what all the side effects will be for ourselves or our children,” said Catherine Largo, a 42-year-old dental assistant, who is legally required to be vaccinated beforehand. fall but says she will refuse to do so.
The vaccines used in France have been widely tested around the world and approved by European and French medical authorities.
“I won’t be able to find any other job because what else would I do?” She said, as she arrived at one of the four protests that took place in Paris on Saturday afternoon. “We should have the choice, we should have the freedom to choose.”
Although the final version of the law was watered down last weekend, a vocal minority of French citizens remain angry at the rules which they say undermine their personal freedoms. But despite pockets of angry opponents, the policy has so far proven effective in increasing vaccination rates and has received general public approval.
More than 60% of people are in favor of the health pass to enter public places and 70% support compulsory vaccination for caregivers, according to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria survey carried out this month.
About 204,000 people marched in the streets of France on Saturday, against 161,000 a week earlier and 114,000 the previous week, according to estimates from the Interior Ministry.
A protester missing this week was François Asselineau, president of the pro-Frexit Republican Popular Union party and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who was unable to attend the march in Paris after testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday .
The 2022 presidential candidate said he suffered from “body aches, fever and cough” in a video posted on his party’s website, but told his supporters he got ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, two controversial drugs that scientists say have no proven benefit against Covid- 19.
Macron announced the extension of the health pass application amid a vaccination campaign that lost momentum as the highly infectious Delta variant spread rapidly.
So far, his decision to go ahead with the radical vaccination strategy appears to have paid off. The number of first doses administered per day has risen to more than 350,000 after stagnating around 160,000 last month, according to government data compiled by Covidtracker.fr.
France has overtaken the United States in the proportion of its population fully vaccinated – 52% compared to 50% in the United States and 56% in the United Kingdom, according to Our World in Data.
Alone 7 percent of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in France between May 31 and July 11 had been fully vaccinated, according to data released by the French government this week.