Saturday January 28, 2023

French police break up mass parties defying Covid curfew

May 03, 2021

PARIS: Hundreds of people flouted France’s coronavirus curfew over the weekend with underground parties in at least two cities, while police managed to prevent organisers from staging a mass rave in Paris, officials said on Sunday.

On Saturday near the eastern city of Dijon, nearly 400 people gathered at an abandoned hangar before police managed to cut power to the sound system at around 2:00 am Sunday. Police also used tear gas to prevent dozens of others from trying to sneak in despite efforts to clear the premises.

Two people were detained, including the suspected organiser, and police issued 205 fines for non-respect of the nationwide curfew that starts at 7:00 pm. "This event is totally irresponsible given the health crisis in the country," the government’s top regional official Fabien Sudry told AFP.

Another illegal party was discovered late on Friday in Haut-Corlay, a village in the western Brittany region, that attracted some 500 people. Despite a police intervention many people stayed overnight at the site on Saturday as well, though all had left by Sunday morning, police said, adding that nearly 330 fines for Covid infractions were issued.

Police in Paris, meanwhile, thwarted a rave planned in an industrial zone near the city’s southeastern edge, detaining three people including a suspected organiser for endangerment. "These people would do better to stay home, and be patient a little bit longer," Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told France Inter radio.

President Emmanuel Macron last week acknowledged the eagerness to exit the country’s third virus lockdown as he announced a phased lifting of the restrictions over the next two months. Secondary schools will reopen Monday and the nationwide curfew will be pushed back to 9 pm on May 19, when cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor seating only.France reports 113 more Covid-19 deaths and 5,581 patients in intensive care.

The number of patients in intensive care units rose by 4 to 5,581 on Sunday, halting five consecutive days of decline, health ministry data showed. However, deaths were down from yesterdays figure of 195.Meanwhile, New Zealand on Sunday agreed to reopen its travel bubble with Western Australia, 24 hours after grounding flights when three people in Perth tested positive for Covid 19.

Health officials said that following consultation with their Australian counterparts they determined the risk to New Zealand was not significant and flight could resume on Monday.However, anyone who has been at "locations of interest" identified by the Western Australian government cannot travel to New Zealand within 14 days of exposure.

"While the public health risk is deemed low, we must all remain vigilant as we enjoy the opportunities quarantine-free travel has given us," the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said.

It was the second disruption to the ground-breaking travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia in the two weeks since it opened, ending more than a year since both closed their international borders due to the pandemic.

Flights between New Zealand and Western Australia were briefly suspended when the Perth and Peel regions were sent into a three-day lockdown after recording a case of community transmission on April 23.

Flights two other states and territories have not been affected. The bubble, which followed months of negotiations between the largely coronavirus-free neighbours, has been hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged British public to keep their resolve for the “last lap” of the fight against coronavirus, saying there is only “a little bit more time” until all legal restrictions on social interaction are removed.

But steady steps out of lockdown were the “smart way to go”, despite people desperately wanting to hug family members. Raab did not confirm that Sunday Times story about school children being vaccinated, but said “all the different contingencies” are being looked at.