- Title: Protesters in France denounce COVID health pass rules for fifth weekend
- Date: 14th August 2021
- Summary: PROTESTERS PLAYING BAGPIPES
- Embargoed: 28th August 2021 17:13
- Keywords: COVID Florian Philippot demo health pass health workers protests sanitary pass vaccination vaccine
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Europe,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA002EQ93I9Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS A VULGAR IMAGE AND VULGAR CHANTING (IN FRENCH)
Protesters have marched in cities across France for a fifth consecutive weekend on Saturday (August 14) against rules compelling them to show a COVID-19 health pass for daily activities, but in lesser numbers than a week ago.
Crowds rallied through the streets of Paris, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier and other towns, waving placards mocking French President Emmanuel Macron and chanting "Freedom, freedom".
In Paris and Nice, hospital workers who are against vaccinations joined the protest.
The protesters questioned the efficacy of the vaccine and said the virus is better addressed by treatments and social distancing. They also worried that there are not enough studies on side effects.
Since last Monday (August 9), citizens have been required to show the pass in public places, proving that they have been vaccinated or have recently been tested negative for the coronavirus.
After a week of leniency from the police, the government has vowed to get tougher on health pass checks, and testing, unless prescribed by a doctor, will no longer be free from October.
The protests have united a disparate group against Macron's legislation, which is meant to help contain a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections spreading across France and help safeguard the country's economic recovery.
The total number of participants in the latest protests had diminished to almost 215,000, according to the interior ministry, after a steady rise from 114,000 on the first Saturday of protest on July 17 to 237,000 on Aug. 7.
Authorities had initially anticipated that the 217 overwhelmingly peaceful rallies around the country would total around 250,000 demonstrators.
The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units has more than doubled in less than a month, standing at 1,831 as of Friday. That's less than a third of the third lockdown peak of 6,001, but high enough to trigger restrictive measures in certain areas.
Health Ministry data showed nine in every 10 COVID patients recently admitted to intensive care had not been vaccinated. A majority of French support the health pass, surveys show.
Among the protesters are remnants of the anti-government "Yellow Vest" movement that shook Macron's leadership during 2018-2019, and also other citizens who are anti-vaccine or consider the health pass to be discriminatory.
Vaccination rates jumped after Macron unveiled his health pass plans last month. Almost 70% of all French people have now received one dose and 57.5% are fully vaccinated.
(Production: Noemie Olive, Eric Gaillard, Michaela Cabrera)
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