An illegal New Year’s rave in northwestern France has been broken up by police, some 36 hours after it began, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted on Saturday.
He said more than 1,200 people have been fined for not respecting the region’s COVID curfew, not wearing a mask and illegally taking part in a gathering.
Sound equipment and power generators were also confiscated, he added.
The rave, involving some 2,500 revelers, occurred in Lieuron, south of Rennes in Brittany.
On Friday, police struggled to halt the party amid clashes with attendees, prompting the placing of a sanitary cordon around the venue.
Local gendarmes said they tried to “faced fierce hostility from many partygoers” who set one of their cars on fire and threw bottles and stones. Some police officers suffered light injuries in the commotion.
One participant, who identified himself as Jo from the Alsace region, told French news agency AFP, that the revelers met on Thursday evening in the parking lot of a shopping center before traveling to the warehouse for the rave. He said, “very few had respected social distancing” at the event, which was supposed to end on Saturday.
Other participants told AFP the party included nationals from Spain and the UK. Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the rave, which could include charges of premeditated violence against people in authority.
Trying to fight the virus
France has implemented tough measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. A nationwide curfew between 8 pm and 6 am local time (1900-0500 UTC/GMT), which was not lifted for New Year, as well as a ban on mass gatherings, have been in effect for weeks. No more than six adults could meet indoors for New Year.
US-based Johns Hopkins University hospital has said more than 2.6 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in France, leading to nearly 65,000 deaths.
Smaller parties busted up
Other large parties took place across central Europe and were quickly broken up by authorities. Police shut down parties involving some 300 people in Marseille and 100 people in Seine-et-Marne, according to AFP. Three suspected organizers of the Marseille party were arrested.
German police arrested two people early Friday after a rave in a disused bunker in the western city of Cologne. A police spokesman said about 30 people attended the gathering, which took place in a locked facility. They said they found professional sound equipment and drugs at the scene.
IMAGE: Mass gathering and curfew rules were broken during the rave, with few wearing masks. (DPA/Marc Ollivier/MAXPPP)