COVID-19: French police shut down illegal rave that had been under way since New Year’s Eve
More than 2,500 people have attended an illegal rave in France, clashing with police who attempted to stop the event.
The rave, held in a disused warehouse at Lieuron near Rennes in Brittany, started on New Year’s Eve and came to an end on Saturday morning.
Mass gatherings are not allowed under French COVID-19 restrictions – and a nationwide 8pm to 6am curfew is in force.
Police said they tried to “prevent this event but faced fierce hostility from many party-goers” who set one of their cars on fire and threw bottles and stones.
People from France, the UK, Spain and other countries attended the event, authorities said.
One of the ravers, who identified himself as “Jo” from the Alsace region of eastern France, said they had all met at a designated spot on Thursday evening in the car park of a shopping centre.
The group then headed for Lieuron.
Jo admitted “very few had respected social distancing” at the event, where most did not wear masks.
A number of people slept in their cars before returning to dance, Le Monde reported.
By Friday evening, the sound of techno music could still be heard from the party venue, though police prevented any newcomers from joining the rave.
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin held a crisis meeting to discuss the event.
Police started to clear the warehouse from 5.30am on Saturday, handing out more than 450 verbal warnings in the process.
Some attendees said they had hoped to stay for longer.
Anais and Lucien, who did not want to give their real first names, had driven for four hours from another region to attend.
“It brings back good memories! It had been so long since we had done one,” Anais said.
“We hesitated a bit before leaving, but we did well. There was even a fireworks display for the New Year.”
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the illegal organisation of the musical gathering and premeditated violence against persons in authority.
Interior ministry spokeswoman Camille Chaize told news channel BFM TV there had been “great hostility, great violence” against police.
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