French police clash with anti-virus pass protesters in Paris

Virus_Outbreak_France_31281 Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the health pass, in Lille, northern France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. France announced mandatory COVID-19 passes for access to restaurants, bars, shopping malls and many tourist spots, as well as trains and planes, as of July 21. The passes are available to anyone fully vaccinated, recently recovered or who has a recent negative test.
Virus_Outbreak_France_84247 Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the health pass, in Lille, northern France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. France announced mandatory COVID-19 passes for access to restaurants, bars, shopping malls and many tourist spots, as well as trains and planes, as of July 21. The passes are available to anyone fully vaccinated, recently recovered or who has a recent negative test.
APTOPIX_France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_95283 Protestors hold up a banner which reads 'freedom' in French during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_81830 Protestors stand in smoke flares in front of policemen during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
APTOPIX_France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_91948 Protestors hold signs which read in French, "freedom" and 'no to the vaccine passport" as they attend a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_25551 Protestors wave French flags and hold signs in front of a cardboard cutout of the Statue of Liberty during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues. Sign reads in French "True Judiciary".
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_73551 Police detain a protestor during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_78280 Police detain a protestor during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_34168 Protestors march waving French flags during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_60180 A protestor covers their face against gas canisters as police move their line during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_34484 A protestor holds up a banner which reads "freedom" as she stands between police during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_37634 A protestor holds a sign which reads in French, "freedom" and "no to the Covid passport" as she attends a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_80604 Protestors raise their fists during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_40150 Two protestors hold the French flag with a message that reads "no to the pass" during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
France_Virus_Outbreak_Protests_02742 A protestor wears a mask on the back of her head which says "no" in French as she attends a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the COVID-19 pass, which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues.
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PARIS (AP) — Thousands of people protested France’s special virus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.

Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Police took up posts along Paris’ Champs-Elysees to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue.

With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.

For anti-pass demonstrators, “liberty” was the slogan of the day.

Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job, accusing the government of using a form of “blackmail.”

“I think that we mustn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press, adding that French medical workers during the first wave of COVID-19 were quite mistreated. “And now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated. I think it is sickening.”

Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.

As marchers headed eastward and some pelted police with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, plumes of smoke filling the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French press quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.

A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen who left to form his own small anti-EU party. But Florian Philippot’s new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched Saturday to the Health Ministry.

Among those not present this week was Francois Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing” health pass.

French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night — compared to just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.

The government announcement that the health pass would take effect on Aug. 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won’t get shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.

About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.

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Patrick Hermansen and Michel Euler in Paris contributed.

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Follow all AP stories on the global pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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