Violence erupted in the French cities of Bordeaux and Nantes this afternoon, amid growing anger at health pass law. Demonstrations in more than 200 cities were said to be organised this afternoon, marking the seventh consecutive weekend of protests. Tens of thousands of people have joined the weekly protests against the pass in in recent weeks.
French President Emmanuel Macron imposed the measure in July amid a surge in infections.
In order to visit cultural venues and sports matches, people are now required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or a recent recovery from coronavirus.
The health pass was recently extended to bars, cafes, restaurants and long-distance public transport.
This has sparked anger among French people, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Paris alone today.
Tear gas was deployed in Nantes where protesters tried to storm the police prefecture as well as a train station.
Protesters in Nantes also blocked main streets in the city, as they shouted chants of ‘freedom’.
A witness to the chaos tweeted: “The police push back the demonstrators approaching the station of Nantes.
“The tear gas shooting took place while the procession was largely peaceful.
“Police use tear gas in Nantes to keep the crowd out of the prefecture.”
Violence all erupted in Bordeaux, where bloodied protesters were seen emerging from clashes with police.
Other protesters chanted ‘Shame on Macron’ and ‘No to the health pass’.
The protesters have complained that the health passes impinge upon their freedom.
Similar protests also took place in Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon and Nice, among other cities.
Stéphane Sirot, a French historian, told FranceInfo that much of the anger on the streets was directed at President Macron, saying: “A very small number of these demonstrators voted for Emmanuel Macron in 2017.
“They are indeed very critical of the government and of the personality of the President of the Republic.”
Earlier this week, the head of France’s largest employer’s federation, Medef, backed the health pass required to access restaurants, cinemas, long-distance transport and other businesses in France.
Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux said that the pass is the “only way out” of the crisis caused by the pandemic.
He said: “We need the health pass because there is no other solution. The only thing we say is that we don’t want it forever.
“As soon as we can get rid of the health pass, let’s stop it.”