Thousands of people have protested in Paris and other French cities on Saturday against a mandatory coronavirus health pass for entry to a wide array of public venues, introduced by the government.
It was the third weekend in a row that people opposed to President Emmanuel Macron’s new COVID-19 measures have taken to the streets, in an unusual show of determination.
Visitors going to museums, cinemas or swimming pools are already denied entry if they cannot produce the health pass showing they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test.
Parliament approved a new law this week that will make vaccinations mandatory for health workers and extend the health pass requirement to bars, restaurants, trade shows, trains and hospitals.
The number of demonstrators has grown steadily since the start of the protests, echoing the “yellow vest” movement that started in late 2018 against fuel taxes and the cost of living.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that 19 demonstrators were arrested, including 10 in Paris while a police spokesperson said Protesters injured three police officers in Paris.
An interior ministry official said 204,090 had demonstrated across France, including 14,250 in Paris alone. This is about 40,000 more than last week.
Protesters were also out in other cities like Marseille, Lyon, Montpelier, Nantes and Toulouse, shouting “Freedom!” and “No to the health pass!.”
About 3,000 police officers were deployed in the capital, with anti-riot officers striving to keep demonstrators on authorized routes.
Authorities sought to avoid a repeat of events last week, when scuffles between police and demonstrators broke out on the Champs-Elysees.