France in turmoil again

Protests intensified across France on Saturday against mandatory requirements of a coronavirus health pass in public eating places and long-distance transport as well as vaccines for health care workers.

At least 198 demonstrations took place in various cities and towns with a record of more than 237,000 protestors, two days before the provisions of a new health bill are set to take effect, as per information from the Interior Ministry, according to France Televisions.

Thirty-five people were arrested for disturbing the public order in which seven policemen were injured in clashes and tensions with the protestors, said the ministry.

Protesters came out in large numbers for a fourth straight week even as most parts experienced heavy rainfall and bad weather after the Constitutional Council largely upheld the bill passed by parliament.

Lawmakers contended that certain provisions of the bill tabled by the Macron administration to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic following rising cases of the contagious delta variant and prevent further lockdowns were infringing upon the general freedom of the French.

The government is set to implement the bill on Monday which will require adults to prove they are completely vaccinated or not infected with the virus through a PCR or antigen test not older than 48 hours before entering public places with gatherings of more than 50 people.

That includes indoor and outdoor terraces of cafes, restaurants, trains, flights, large commercial shopping centers, and trade fairs.

From the end of August, the measures will also apply to minors 12 and older and will stay in force until Nov. 15 before they are renewed, depending on the situation with the pandemic.

Although 44 million people, accounting for more than 60% of the population, have been vaccinated with at least one dose, health authorities estimate to achieve herd immunity, 90% of the population needs to be completely vaccinated.

But there is a growing number of the French, including health care workers, who oppose vaccination as they believe it will weaken their immunity and is against their freedom.

Since last month, positive cases and admissions to intensive care units have been on the rise, which authorities said largely come from the unvaccinated.

As of Saturday, there were 25,755 new infections and 32 deaths in hospitals.

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