PARIS (AP) – For a fourth straight week, thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other French cities against the entry requirements of COVID-19 and against those viewed by opponents as restrictions on personal freedom.
Saturday’s demonstrations come two days after the French Constitutional Council endorsed most of the provisions of a new law expanding the places where health cards are required.
From Monday, the pass will be required for access to cafes, restaurants, long-distance travel and, in some cases, hospitals. It was already intended for cultural and leisure facilities, including cinemas, concert halls and theme parks with a capacity for more than 50 people.
A crowd of protesters walked peacefully west of Paris on Saturday afternoon while surrounded by police officers in full riot gear. Three more separate gatherings were planned in the French capital, and dozens of street protests were organized in other French cities.
Some protesters are also protesting the government making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health workers through September 15.
Surveys show that most people in France support the health passports issued to people who are either vaccinated against the coronavirus or have evidence of recovery from COVID-19 or negative results from a recent test.
Opponents say the passport requirement restricts their movements outside the home and implicitly makes vaccines mandatory.
Over 36 million people in France – around 54% of the population – are fully vaccinated. At least 7 million have received their first vaccination since French President Emmanuel Macron announced the health passport on July 12.
France registers over 21,000 new confirmed virus cases every day, a steep increase from a month ago. More than 112,000 people with the virus have died in the country since the pandemic began.
A growing number of European countries have started to introduce virus pass requirements, each with slightly different rules.
Protests took place in neighboring Italy last month against a pass that allows access to indoor restaurants, gyms, theaters, cinemas and other meeting places. The so-called “Green Pass” came into force on Friday.
Denmark pioneered low resistance vaccines. In Austria, the pass is required for entry to restaurants, theaters, hotels, sports facilities and hairdressers.
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