PARIS, France: Thousands of people in Paris and other French cities protested against the introduction of a mandatory COVID-19 health pass.
The new pass, to be used for entry to various public venues, was introduced by the French government, which is battling the fourth wave of the pandemic.
According to a police spokesperson, protesters injured three police officers in Paris. Some 19 demonstrators were arrested, including 10 in Paris, tweeted Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Those opposed to President Emmanuel Macron’s new COVID-19 measures took to the streets for the third consecutive weekend on Saturday, with their numbers growing steadily since the start of the protests, echoing the yellow vest movement in late 2018.
An interior ministry official said 204,090 protested around the country, including 14,250 in Paris, some 40,000 more than last week.
“We are creating a segregated society, and I think this is unbelievable in the country of human rights. Therefore, I took to the streets. I have never protested in my life. I think our freedom is at risk,” said Anne, a teacher who demonstrated in Paris, as quoted by Reuters.
Visitors to museums, cinemas or swimming pools are already prohibited from entering without a health pass confirming their full vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative test.
Parliament approved a new law this week making vaccinations mandatory for health workers and extending health pass requirement to bars, restaurants, trade shows, trains and hospitals.
Some 3,000 police officers were deployed in Paris, with anti-riot officers seeking to keep protestors on pre-planned routes.
Authorities tried to avoid a repeat of last week’s events, when scuffles between police and demonstrators erupted on the Champs-Elysees.
Many also protested in other cities, such as Marseille, Lyon, Montpelier, Nantes and Toulouse.