Some 3,000 riot police clashed with thousands of protesters in the French capital for a third weekend in a row over proposals to introduce a vaccine pass.
Police also used water cannons to ward off thousands of demonstrators on the Champs-Elysées and Place de la Bastille.
More than 160,000 people marched in Paris and other major cities in protests organized by the so-called Gilets Jaunes, or anti-government movement of Gilets Jaunes.
“Some of the marches are illegal and they are joined by anarchist groups not directly linked to the protest,” an officer said at the scene.
People are protesting against a bill recently passed by French lawmakers that makes it mandatory to have a Covid vaccination passport to enter restaurants and public spaces.
Under state-backed rules, healthcare workers will have until mid-September to prove they are either double-bitten, have already had Covid-19, or are providing a result negative test.
“I THINK IT’S GREAT”
Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, accused the government of “blackmailing” her into removing her from her job.
“I think we shouldn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press, adding that medical workers during the first wave of COVID-19 were treated poorly.
“And now all of a sudden we’re being told that if we don’t get vaccinated, it’s our fault that people are infected. I think it’s sickening. “
Tensions erupted outside the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest protest to date.
Hordes of police clashed with protesters in head-on clashes that left many injured and bloody.
As the protesters made their way east, police fired tear gas at the crowd hoping it would disperse them.
A man ended up with blood spurting from his head.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people descended on the Health Ministry in a separate march led by a far-right politician linked to Marine Le Pen.
Among those who were not present this week was François Asselineau, leader of the small anti-EU party of the Popular Republican Union and ardent activist against the health pass, who caught COVID-19.
In a video posted on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on the population to denounce the pass.
The French authorities are implementing the health passport because the Delta variant, which is very contagious, is making a strong breakthrough.
More than 24,000 new cases daily were confirmed Friday evening compared to just a few thousand cases a day earlier this month.
The government announced that the measures would go into effect on August 9, prompting hundreds of thousands of French people to book their jabs to avoid missing summer vacation.
The vaccines are now available in a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.
More than 111,800 people have died from the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.