WATCH: 175,000 Protest in France Against Macron’s Vaccine Passports for Sixth Straight Week

Protesters wave French flags and hold banners reading "freedom" as they march during a national day of protest against the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for certain workers and the mandatory use of the health pass called for by the French government in Paris on August 21, 2021. - Protesters took to …
STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images

For the sixth straight week, hundreds of thousands of people in France took to the streets to protest against Emmanuel Macron’s draconian health passport scheme.

An estimated 175,000 people marched in 220 demonstrations throughout France on Saturday, with an estimated 14,700 mobilising in Paris against the so-called ‘pass sanitaire’ (health passport), which is now required for many aspects of normal life in the country.

Aside from the capital, approximately 9,500 marched in the southern city of Montpellier, 4,000 in the German-bordering Strasbourg, and 3,400 in Bordeaux, with smaller protests dotted across the nation, according to the public broadcaster France24.

The Yellow Vest (Gillet Jaune) affiliated group Le Nombre Jaune, however, claimed that 357,100 were on the streets “at a minimum”.

In Paris, anti-vaccine passport protesters held flags reading “Liberté” and chanted the slogan “Macron! We don’t want your pass!”

Earlier this month it became a requirement across France to present the vaccine passport to enter into bars, cafes, and restaurants, including those with outdoor seating. The requirement has also been imposed on long-distance travel including buses, trains, and aeroplanes.

The pass sanitaire records whether an individual has either had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a negative antigen test within the past 72 hours, or proof of recovery from the Chinese virus within the past six months.

French police have been seen patrolling outdoor cafes in Paris, demanding to see customer’s health papers, and footage on social media has shown supermarkets refusing people who did not have the pass.

The draconian health law, pushed by President Emmanuel Macron, has also mandated that children as young as twelve years old will need to present a health pass by September.

Businesses that fail to comply with the health checks face fines of up to €45,000 (£38,090/$52,826) as well as a possible prison sentence of one year.  Citizens who fail to produce their health papers face fines of €135 (£114/$158) for their first offence and up to €9,000 (£7,618/$10,565) for repeat offenders.

On Thursday, France’s Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, said that restaurants that “do not play the game” of enforcing health passports will be prohibited from receiving state aid meant to help struggling businesses during the lockdown-induced economic crisis.

“It is the taxpayer who finances the solidarity fund, so I do not see how to explain to the taxpayer that he is going to finance people who cheat,” Le Maire said.

There has been some political pushback against the authoritarian imposition at the local level in France, with two mayors in Beziers and Hayange telling local police to not enforce the mandate at cafes or restaurants.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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