‘No Vaccine Passports’: Massive Protests Across France Over New COVID Rules

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
August 8, 2021 Updated: August 8, 2021

For the fourth consecutive weekend, thousands of demonstrators in France took to the streets to protest against the country’s strict new COVID-19 rules, including a so-called “health pass” that restricts unvaccinated people from entering restaurants, bars, gyms, and other venues.

Video footage uploaded on social media showed demonstrators marching in Paris, chanting slogans against vaccine passports and other mandates.

There were some outbursts of violence in the city of Toulouse. Police officers and other security forces were seen deploying tear gas against the demonstrators. However, many protesters in the city, located near the border with Spain, appeared to be peaceful.

Thousands of people were also seen marching in Nice, located on the French Riviera, and protests were held in Lille, in northern France, according to footage.

With French riot police on guard, a largely peaceful crowd walked across Paris carrying banners that read “Our freedoms are dying” as well as “Vaccine: Don’t touch our kids.” Some were also upset that the government has made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health care workers by Sept. 15.

The Interior Ministry said there were 237,000 protesters nationwide, including 17,000 in Paris, which may be the largest demonstrations yet against the vaccine passports.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters gather to protest against France’s vaccine passport system during a demonstration in Paris, on Aug. 7, 2021. (AP Photo / Adrienne Surprenant)

Last week, France’s top court upheld that the majority of the “health pass” law that was passed in Parliament days before complied with the nation’s founding charter. The court also found that a mandate requiring health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine also didn’t violate the law.

In a notice issued by the French government on July 29, French residents are required to “present a health pass to access leisure and culture venues and events bringing together more than 50 people.”

Starting Aug. 9, the health passes will be required to enter bars, restaurants, and malls—as well as accessing long-distance travel via train, bus, or plane.

The pass was heavily promoted by French President Emmanuel Macron, and it requires either a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination. Macron also announced in mid-July that all health workers have to receive the vaccine by Sept. 15.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters gather to protest against France’s vaccine passport system during a demonstration in Paris, on Aug. 7, 2021. (AP Photo / Adrienne Surprenant)

According to government data, about 54 percent of France’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

In the United States, New York last week became the first city to mandate a similar vaccine passport-style system for residents to enter bars, restaurants, and gyms.

A number of restaurant owners and shop owners said they were taken aback by the new requirement, with some asserting that New York officials are forcing them to effectively act as the police in enforcing the mandate. In media interviews, some restaurant owners also said it’s not clear how they would even enforce the rule.

Vaccine passport systems have been flagged by the World Health Organization and civil liberties groups for a variety of reasons including that they might create a two-tiered, caste-based society of the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Some Republican-led states have moved to ban them at the state level.

“There’s a lot that can go wrong with ‘vaccine passport,'” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote, adding that any “vaccine credentials must be primarily paper-based, decentralized, and protect privacy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.