Tens of thousands protested against French Covid’s health bypass rules

French policy updates

Tens of thousands of people protested in French cities for the third consecutive weekend on Saturday, demanding an end to what they see as draconian rules that force them to vaccinate against their will.

They talked in the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, and elsewhere, shouting “It’s a health dictatorship!” and “No vaccinations, no health steps!”, in demonstrations that included a wide range of social and political movements.

Fierce communists are marching with supporters of the far-right National Rally Party and some of the yellow vests movement against a new law that makes Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for health workers and requires a health pass for all those who want to get into public places like 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 before the autumn but says she will refuse to do it.

Vaccines used in France have been widely tested worldwide and approved by European and French medical authorities.

“I can’t find another job, so what else can I do?” she said, when she arrived at one of four demonstrations taking place in Paris on Saturday afternoon. “We have to have the choice, we have to have the freedom to choose.”

Although the final version of the law was enacted last weekend, a vocal minority of French citizens remain at gunpoint over rules they believe violate their personal freedoms. But despite the pockets of angry opponents, the policy has so far succeeded in boosting vaccination rates and has been welcomed with the approval of the wider public.

More than 60 percent of people are in favor of the health pass to enter public places and 70 percent support mandatory vaccination for caregivers, according to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria survey conducted this month.

And a number of protesters have dropped slightly. About 150,000 people marched on the streets of France on Saturday, up from 161,000 a week earlier, according to Interior Ministry estimates.

François Asselineau’s anti-health campaign has yielded positive results for Covid-19 © AFP via Getty Images

A missing protester this week was François Asselineau, president of the pro-Frexit party People’s Republican Union and an ardent activist against the health passage, who was unable to take part in the march in Paris after he tested positive for Covid-19 Friday.

The 2022 presidential candidate said he suffered from “body aches, fever and cough” in the video published on his party’s website, but told his followers that he had obtained ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatment, both controversial drugs that scientists say had no proven benefit against Covid- 19.

Macron announced the extended application of the sanitary step in the midst of a vaccination campaign that was losing momentum as the highly infectious Delta variant spread rapidly.

So far his decision to be able to move forward with the tough vaccination strategy seems to have paid off. The number of first doses administered on the day jumped back to more than 350,000 after stagnating around 160,000 last month, according to government data compiled by Covidtracker.fr.

France surpassed the United States in the proportion of its population that is fully vaccinated – 52 percent versus 50 percent in the United States and 56 percent in the United Kingdom, according to Our World Data.

Alone 7 percent of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in France between May 31 and July 11 he had been completely vaccinated, according to data released by the French government this week.

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