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Hundreds of thousands protest discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine passports in France

Cassie B.

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France’s COVID-19 vaccine passport mandate that stops unvaccinated people from going into restaurants or bars and taking long-distance trips is being met with a significant amount of resistance as tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets this weekend to demonstrate their opposition.

According to France’s Interior Ministry, 215,000 people are believed to have participated in protests, which is only slightly less than the 237,000 people who were estimated to have protested the week before. Around 1,600 police officers were sent to three separate marches in Paris, but authorities did not release any information about possible arrests.

Demonstrations were held in cities such as Paris, Marseille and Nice, where protesters chanted refrains about freedom and told the government to “take back your pass” in reference to the vaccine passport. Many French citizens believe that these passports are serving more as a way of segregating society for political reasons instead of coming from any type of true concern about people’s health.

In late July, France’s parliament approved the controversial health passport law that requires all of its citizens to show their passes before entering public areas to prove that they have either been vaccinated against the virus, have tested negative for it recently or have antibodies due to natural infection. The law was upheld earlier this month by France’s top court, as was a law that mandates all health workers receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Many protesters took issue with the “anti-vax label”, pointing out that they do support the concept of vaccines in general but do not accept the restrictions that are being placed on people’s movements. In fact, many of the protesters have been vaccinated themselves but are against the discrimination aspect of requiring the passports to participate in society.

Many of those protesting are also taking issue with the fact that the country has begun vaccinating children in the 12 to 17 age group due to the high risks and lower benefits of vaccines within this age group.

The anti-passport movement is strongest in the southern part of the country, which is also experiencing the lowest rates of vaccination. Protesters span the range of the political spectrum, with many citing infringements on personal liberties as their motivation.

So far, nearly 68.5 percent of the French population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while around 57.5 percent of French citizens have received two doses of the vaccine.

Protests taking place around the world

France is not the only place where people are taking to the streets to express their opposition to these unfair mandates. In Quebec, Canada, demonstrations took place over the recently mandated vaccine passports for entry to bars, restaurants and gyms there.

Protests attracted thousands of people in Montreal, who marched peacefully through the streets in opposition to a rule that some say effectively forces people to get vaccinated. This rule was put into effect even though Quebec’s vaccination rate is quite high, with 84 percent of adults there having received one dose already and 70 percent having received two.

New York plans to debut its own vaccine passport system for bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms this week in a move that many people believe is highly discriminatory. Roughly 65 percent of black New Yorkers aged 18 to 44 have not received any doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which means there are many black people who will be effectively shut out of society in New York.

As more places around the world begin to limit people’s movements for not complying with vaccine mandates, it won’t be surprising if we see a lot more of these protests coming from everyone who cares about freedom – whether they’re vaccinated or not.

Sources for this article include: