A French prosecutor has said that police detained seven people including two alleged organisers, on Saturday, after an enormous New Year’s Eve rave drew at least 2,500 people in the west of the country.
The gathering, which saw few masks and nothing in the way of social distancing, occurred despite a nationwide curfew and other restrictions aimed at curbing the further spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that actions by police around the site at Lieuron, in Brittany, “led to the end of the illegal party without violence” on Saturday morning, 36 hours after it began.
Prosecutor Philippe Astruc said an investigation has been opened for a range of violations, including “endangering others’ lives”, “deliberate violence” against police officers, and drug-related offenses.
Investigators found that organisers requested a financial contribution to take part in the rave, and that illicit drugs were in plentiful supply, Astruc said.
Police detained two people suspected of being organisers after a police search found money, illicit drugs, and sound equipment in the Brittany town of Iffendic. Five others were arrested as they were leaving the party for drug-related infractions and transporting sound equipment.
Emmanuel Berthier, head of the local state authority, said in a news conference on Saturday that police issued at least 1,200 fines, including 800 for not respecting the curfew, not wearing a face mask, and illegally taking part in a gathering. Hundreds of people were also fined for using illicit drugs, he said.
Ravers from France and abroad converged on a hangar in Lieuron, on Thursday, night to party into the New Year. Officials said ravers attacked the police on the first night, torching one police vehicle and slightly injuring three officers with volleys of bottles and stones.
Video images showed lines of ravers’ trucks and cars leaving on Saturday morning. The party took place despite France’s nationwide night-time curfew, which seeks to dissuade people from gathering during the pandemic.
The Regional Health Agency of Brittany warned that party-goers had a high risk of spreading the virus, and urged participants to self-isolate for a week before undertaking a test in seven days.
France has reported more than 64,000 coronavirus-related deaths.