Protesters took to the streets of France on Saturday for the fourth consecutive weekend to oppose a new health pass for the coronavirus needed to enter a cafe or travel on an intercity train, two days before the rules go into effect. .
The new rules defended by the president, Emmanuel Macron, oblige to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, be in possession of a negative test or recently recover from the virus to enjoy habitually routine activities.
Macron, who faces re-election next year, hopes the rules will encourage all French people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and defeat the virus and its fast-spreading Delta variant.
But opponents, who have taken to the streets in droves in recent weeks, argue that the rules encroach on civil liberties in a country where individual freedom is valued.
Starting Monday, the health pass will be necessary to eat in a restaurant or drink in an indoor cafeteria or on a terrace. It will be mandatory in intercity transport, including high-speed trains and domestic flights, but it will not be necessary in metro systems and suburban transport.
The pass is already required from July 21 to visit cultural places such as cinemas, theaters and museums. His extension was approved by France’s constitutional council on Thursday.
In one of several protests planned in Paris alone, hundreds marched from the western suburbs into the center, chanting: “Freedom!” and: “Macron, we don’t want your pass!”
Wearing a mask, Alexandre Fourez, a 34-year-old marketing employee, said he was protesting for the first time and that he himself had recovered from Covid. “The problem with the health pass is that our hand is being forced,” he said, adding that “it really is hard for him to believe that its use is temporary.”
Further protests were planned later in the afternoon across the country, including in Lille in the north and Toulon on the Mediterranean coast.
The Interior Ministry said more than 200,000 people attended last weekend and more than 160,000 the weekend before the protests. Police do not expect the numbers to decrease this weekend.
Although many of the protesters are among those who refuse to be vaccinated, some have been beaten but are opposed to the principle of the health pass.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the pass, which under current rules will be necessary until November 15, was necessary to avoid further restrictions as the country battles the fourth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic.
“It is an additional restriction, but a restriction that will allow venues to remain open,” he said, while emphasizing that there would be a “grace period” of one week for individuals and businesses to get used to the new rules.
Macron, who is at his vacation residence in southern France, has in recent days repeatedly used the social media platform TikTok, popular with young people, to get his message across.
“Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated, ”Macron said in the last video on Friday. “It is a question of being a good citizen… our freedom is worth nothing if we infect our friends, neighbors or grandparents. To be free is to be responsible ”.
The vaccine program has gained momentum in France since the health pass plan was announced, and the government wants 50 million people to have received at least one puncture by the end of August. Almost 55% of the population is now fully vaccinated.
About 25,000 new infections were registered on Friday. The concern continues to be overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Martinique and the Mediterranean coast, including Corsica, affected by the influx of tourists.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism