Europe

Protesters in France demonstrate against COVID pass for sixth weekend

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Protesters attend a demonstration against France's restrictions, including a compulsory health pass, to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Paris, France, August 21, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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  • Protests pass off peacefully in Paris
  • Sixth consecutive weekend of demonstrations in France
  • Main Paris protest led by far-right politician Philippot

PARIS, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Thousands demonstrated across France for a sixth consecutive weekend on Saturday against a COVID-19 health pass required for daily activities, highlighting a simmering political risk for President Emmanuel Macron.

The Interior Ministry said around 175,500 people in total demonstrated on Saturday - down from roughly 215,000 last weekend although numbers could increase as people return from summer holidays.

The health pass is official documentation, with a QR scan code, that proves a person has had the COVID-19 vaccine. Many French bars, restaurants, museums and sports venues will not allow people inside unless they can show the health pass.

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While the majority of people in France have been vaccinated against COVID-19, demonstrators argue the health pass discriminates against those who have not, and infringes upon people's liberties.

"This health pass divides French people. I think that is clear. And unfortunately, I believe we should abolish it," said civil servant Sophie Soulas at the Paris protest.

The protests have united a disparate group against the health pass, which is designed to encourage more people to get vaccinated and protect France against a fourth wave of the virus.

The biggest demonstration in Paris was led by far-right politician Florian Philippot, head of 'Les Patriotes' party, while there was also a demonstration by left-wing protesters linked to the 'Yellow Vests' ('Gilets Jaunes') movement.

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Reporting by Manuel Ausloos, Antony Paone, Christian Hartmann, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Gilles Guillaume; editing by Jason Neely

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