At least 2,500 people attended an illegal New Year’s party in France, which resulted in clashes with police trying to break up the party over fears the underground event could spread the coronavirus.
The party, which was held in a warehouse in Lieuron, which is adjacent to Rennes in Brittany, started last Thursday (12/31) and is still ongoing.
A number of partygoers clashed with police, burned cars, and threw objects at officers who tried to stop the event. At least three officers were injured.
Speaking on BFM TV, interior ministry spokesman Camille Chaize said there had been “great hostility, intense violence” against law and order enforcement officials, without indicating when police would be able to enter the scene of the party.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the organization that hosted the illegal party.
Some of the people attending the party were from England and Spain, according to the police.
A statement from the authorities said police had tried “to prevent this event but faced fierce hostility from many partygoers”.
One of the partygoers, Jo, told the AFP news agency that they all met at the designated place late Thursday in the parking lot of a shopping mall.
Then, the convoy headed for Lieuron, where police tried to prevent them from passing, he said.
He acknowledged that there was “very little respect for social distancing” at the event, which was supposed to end on Saturday.
A number of people slept in their cars before returning to dance at the party, reports Le Monde newspaper.
Some partygoers said they planned to join the party until Sunday, while others said they hoped to be at the party until Tuesday.
One of the partygoers told Le Monde that the party was “very organized” with a food stall inside.
On Friday evening, the French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, called a meeting to discuss the party.
He said all vehicle exits were blocked and more than 200 people had been given verbal warnings by police.
The event was held amid an increase in Covid-19 cases in France.
France enforces strict rules ahead of the New Year, including a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am.
More than 100,000 police officers were deployed across France to break up parties and implement curfews.
Officers were ordered to break up the underground party as soon as there was a report about the party, fine the partygoers, and identify the party organizers.
France has reported more than 2.6 million cases of the coronavirus and 64,892 deaths since the pandemic began.