French health pass protesters rally for 7th week

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PARIS (AP) — Demonstrators opposed to France’s health pass took to the streets for a seventh Saturday of vocal protests, but crowds were smaller than in past weeks.

About 200 marches were called around the country, four in Paris, gathering both people opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations and those denouncing the health pass in place since early August.

Polls show that a majority of French back the health pass but the demonstrators Saturday were of all ages and a mix of social classes. They included some health care workers, who must be vaccinated by mid-September.

The pass, which is required to enter restaurants, museums, sports arenas or other popular venues in France, shows its holder is fully vaccinated, recovered or had a recent negative test.

Signs carried by the crowd include one that read “Welcome to Controlistan.”

Far-right politician Florian Philippot, a presidential candidate in next year’s election, has organized such protests for months.

“The spirit of France is here and it is rising,” he tweeted, posting photos of crowds at his demonstration.

French media, citing the Interior Ministry, said there were less than 158,580 protesters Saturday around France, compared to 175,500 a week ago.

Health authorities said Saturday that nearly 72% of France’s population has received at least one vaccine injection and 64.5% have been fully vaccinated.

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