Covid: French police clash with anti-virus pass protesters in Paris

Protesters hold up a banner which reads 'freedom' in French during a demonstration in Paris (Adrienne Surprenant/AP)

Thousands of people protested against France’s special coronavirus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday.

Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.

Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places.

Police took up posts along Paris’ Champs-Elysees.

With virus infections spiking and hospital admissions rising, French legislators have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of August 9.

Two protesters hold the French flag with a message that reads “no to the pass” during a demonstration in Paris Credit: Adrienne Surprenant/AP

Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed.

The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from Covid-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.

Across the Alps, thousands of anti-vaccine pass demonstrators marched in Italian cities including Rome, Milan and Naples for the second consecutive week.

Milan demonstrators stopped outside the city’s courthouse chanting “Truth”, “Shame” and “Liberty” while in Rome they marched behind a banner reading “Resistance”.

Those demonstrations were noisy but peaceful.

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For anti-pass demonstrators, “liberty” was the slogan of the day. The marches drew some 204,000 people around the country. Some 14,250 people hostile to the pass protested in Paris, several thousand more than a week ago.

Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job, accusing the government of using a form of “blackmail”.

“I think that we mustn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press.

Demonstrators gathered in several cities in France on Saturday to protest against the Covid-19 pass Credit: Adrienne Surprenant/AP

Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration.

Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march.

As marchers headed eastward and some pelted police with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, plumes of smoke filling the sky.

A male protester was seen with a bleeding head and a police officer was carried away by colleagues.

Three officers were injured, the French press quoted police as saying.

Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.