IN PICTURES: France sees third Saturday of protests against health pass

Over 150,000 demonstrators were expected across France on Saturday, 31st July, according to authorities, with more than 3,000 police officers deployed in Paris alone to oversee planned gatherings and safeguard sensitive sites.
Most demonstrations were uneventful, but in Paris, some protesters clashed with riot police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

Demonstrators hold up banners and placards, one of which reads as ‘someone you deprived of everything is no longer in your power. It is the new entertainment’ at a protest in Bayonne on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

Last Saturday saw 161,000 protesters take to the streets and 110,000 the week before to protest against France’s decision to greatly extend the use of the health pass and introduce compulsory vaccination for some professions.

READ ALSO: Health passport: What changes in France on August 9th?

Protestors are seen through the shattered glass of a bus stop as they march during a demonstration in Paris on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Four demonstrations were planned for Paris, one of which left the Villiers metro station late Saturday morning.

Before the procession set off, one member of the populist ‘Gilet Jaunes’ protest movement berated “the members of the government, the members of the media who are there to sell you the efficacy of vaccines without even having any proof,” saying he felt “demonised”, French daily Le Monde reported.

A protestor kicks smoking teargas shells during a demonstration in Paris on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

By mid-afternoon, “over 10,000 people” were taking part, the paper’s reporter estimated.

Another demonstration, called by Florian Philipot, the former second-in-command of France’s National Front party, set off from near Montparnasse station towards the Ministry of Health.

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading ‘No need to learn how to read and write! Plugged in, scanned… dehumanised’, during a national day of protest against the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for certain workers and the compulsory use of the health pass called for by the French government in Paris on July 31, 2021. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Several demonstrators — most of whom were unmasked — sported red, white and blue flags, while one wore a ripped up European flag, Le Monde reported.

However, the paper said the demonstration was uneventful and some 1,000 to 2,000 people took part.

A protesters with a national flag on his shoulder tries to calm down the situation during clashes on the sidelines of a demonstration in Nantes on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

In the South of France, police said 8,500 people protested in Montpellier and 6,500 in Nice, some 500 more than the previous week.

In Marseille, police used tear gas to prevent protesters from getting too close to the police headquarters in the city, an AFP reporter said.

And, in Strasbourg, police said 3,200 people were taking part in protests in the city centre, but reported no problems.

People hold a banner in French, which translates as “No to the health pass and to anti-social reforms” during a demonstration in Caen, Normandy, on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Protesters also gathered in the La Réunion despite the partial weekend lockdown in place in the French overseas territory, which is facing a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases.

Demonstrators hold up banners and placards, one of which reads as ‘Let the Doctors Work, Stop the Dictatorship, Stop the Lies’, during a protest in Saint-Denis de la Réunion, on the Indian Ocean island on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by Richard BOUHET / AFP)
According to the results of one study published on Friday by Harris Interactive and Euros Agency for LCI, four out of 10 French people say they support the protests against the introduction of a health pass.

A demonstrator holds a banner reading “don’t touch my kid” during a protest in Reims on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by François NASCIMBENI / AFP)

Of those who support them, 65 percent justified this by opting for the response “not liking what you have to do being forced on you/feeling you don’t have the choice”.

According to another poll from 16th July, this time by Ipsos-Sopra Steria for FranceInfo and Le Parisien, 62 percent of French people at that time said they were favourable to the implementation of the health pass to enter public places and 69 percent supported compulsory vaccination for health care workers.

Bayonne hospital nurses show their support for the protests with a sign which reads as ‘Thank you’ in Bayonne on July 31st, 2021. (Photo by Iroz Gaizka / AFP)

Extension planned for August 9th
The health pass was definitively adopted last Sunday evening after six days of heated debates.

It has been in force for visits to museums, cinemas and cultural venues with a capacity of more than 50 people since July 21st.
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The latest legislation extends its use and makes a Covid-19 health pass compulsory for other day-to-day activities, such as visiting a cafe, boarding a plane or travelling on an inter-city train on 9th August.
It also makes vaccination compulsory for health-workers and carers.
READ ALSO Health passport: What changes in France on August 9th?

Protestors face CRS riot police during a demonstration, in Paris on July 31st, 2021 (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)
A valid health pass is generated by two jabs from a recognised vaccine, a negative coronavirus test or a recent recovery from infection.
The law is subject to the approval of the influential Constitutional Council, which will give its decision on August 5th. 
Those who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 represent around 85 percent of hospital admissions in France and 78 percent of deaths due to the virus, according to a study by Drees, France’s national research and statistics agency, published on Friday.
Since the beginning of July, more than 8.2 million first vaccine doses have been administered, according to official figures published on Friday, July 30th.
As of Friday, 62.5 percent of the population have received at least one injection and 52.1 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the figures.

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