PARIS (AP) — Thousands of people, from families to far-right sympathizers, marched in cities across France for a fifth straight Saturday to denounce a COVID-19 health pass that is now needed to enter French restaurants, bars and sports arenas or use long-distance trains, planes or buses.

Some 1,600 police were deployed for three separate marches in Paris, a week after the health pass went into effect.

“Liberty” was the slogan, with protesters saying the health pass limits their freedom and is a disguised way to make COVID-19 vaccinations obligatory. One woman in Paris was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Other signs included “Take Back Your Pass, Macron, and Get Lost” to vulgar slogans.

“We want none of this. It’s nyet!” said a 53-year-old real estate agent marching in Paris who identified herself only as Stephanie. “It is a political crisis disguised as a health crisis.”

The pass shows whether people are fully vaccinated, have had a recent negative test or proof of a recent COVID-19 recovery. The bill authorizing it includes mandatory vaccinations for French health workers by Sept. 15.

The marches came as France is facing soaring numbers of new infections, driven by the more transmissible delta variant.


More on the COVID-19 pandemic

In Montpellier, some 7,500 people marched. The city is in the Herault region where the infection rate is above 600 per 100,000 people, among the highest in the country.

Despite the protests, polls have shown that the majority of French people. support the health pass.

As of late Friday, 46.1 million people in France, nearly 68.5% of the population, had received at least one vaccine shot and more than 38.8 million, or 57.5%, had gotten two shots.