Thousands of people protested in Paris and other French cities on Saturday against a compulsory coronavirus health pass for entry to a wide array of public venues, introduced by the government as it battles a fourth wave of infections.
This comes days after the French Parliament approved a new law that will make vaccinations mandatory for health workers and extend the health pass requirement to bars, restaurants, trade shows, trains and hospitals.
According to reports from a police spokesperson, the demonstrators injured three police officers in Paris.
The Minister of Interior, Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that 19 demonstrators were arrested, including 10 in Paris.
It was the third weekend in a row that people opposed to President Emmanuel Macron’s new COVID-19 measures have taken to the streets, an unusual show of determination at a time of year when many people are focused on taking their summer break.
The number of demonstrators has grown steadily since the start of the protests, echoing the “yellow vest” movement, which started in late 2018 against fuel taxes and the cost of living.
According to an official at the Interior Ministry, 204,090 had demonstrated across France, including 14,250 in Paris alone. This is about 40,000 last week.
Visitors going to museums, cinemas or swimming pools are already being denied entry if they cannot produce the health pass showing they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test.
About 3,000 police officers were deployed in the capital, with anti-riot officers striving to keep demonstrators on authorised routes.
Authorities sought to avoid a repeat of events last week when scuffles between police and demonstrators broke out on the Champs-Elysees.
Protesters were also out in other cities like Marseille, Lyon, Montpelier, Nantes and Toulouse, shouting “Freedom,” and “No to the health pass.”