Thousands of French citizens demonstrated in several cities Saturday against the COVID-19 health pass that is now required to access most public places, including restaurants, cafes, sports stadiums, and gyms.
The health pass shows that people are fully vaccinated, had a recent negative test, or recently recovered from COVID-19. The law went into effect last month and will require all French health care workers to be vaccinated by Sept. 15.
More than 141,000 people took part in Saturday’s protests, including 18,425 in Paris, Ouest France reports. The number of protesters declined from nearly 160,000 last weekend and about 175,000 the weekend before that, according to the French newspaper.
Videos posted on social media showed a large group of protesters streaming into a shopping mall and chanting, “Liberté!”
Despite the large turnouts against the health pass, 80.5% of France’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, according to the country’s Ministry of the Interior.
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French President Emmanuel Macron said in July when the health pass law was passed that protesters are “free to express themselves in a calm and respectful manner,” but urged citizens to get vaccinated.
“What is your freedom worth if you say to me, ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated,’ but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself?” Macron said in July.
The health pass only applies to adults right now but will go into effect for everyone 12 and older starting Sept. 30. It’s set to last through Nov. 15, but the rules could be extended depending on how prevalent coronavirus still is at that time.
The 7-day average for new daily cases in France was 14,587 on Tuesday, a 22% decline over the prior week, according to French government data.
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Similar health passes in other European countries have also faced protests in recent weeks, including in Germany and Italy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.