Secret parties, one giant and violent, test French lockdown

PARIS (AP) — France is in a second lockdown amid a second wave of the coronavirus, but some people can’t stop partying. Police broke up one gigantic fete outside Paris early Saturday, reportedly using special grenades to do so.

Police intervened to end a middle-of-the-night house party attended by at least 300 people “in total disdain for health rules,” the Paris Police Prefecture tweeted. Party-goers threw bottles at police, police said. Daily newspaper Le Parisien said police had to toss special grenades as intermediate weapons to break up the gathering and escape.

The Police Prefecture tweeted later Saturday that at least one person at the party was infected with the coronavirus. Authorities appealed to everyone who participated in the gathering to get tested quickly and to quarantine while awaiting results so as not to become potential spreaders.

The party in Joinville-le-Pont, in the Val de Marne region west of Paris, drew French media attention because of its size and the chaos that reportedly reigned at the house. Le Parisien said the property was equipped with a pool, a sauna and a dance floor, and was regularly rented out.

A fight on the dance floor was already in progress when police arrived, the newspaper reported. The party had been advertised on social media.

“It was a giant cluster last night,” Joinville-le-Point Mayor Olivier Dosne said on news channel BFMTV, while insisting the scene was uncommon for his quiet town.

Another “clandestine fete,” a smaller, private affair days earlier in southeast France, got attention because it was held by nearly two dozen medical interns at their residence at Bigorre Hospital in Tarbes. Police broke up the early Wednesday party at about 4 a.m. The party-goers were dressed down by superiors and are awaiting eventual punishment.

Such incidents come as police are out in force around France checking to ensure that pedestrians and motorists aren’t breaking the rules of a national lockdown which began two weeks ago and is expected to remain in place at least until Dec. 1.

The lockdown rules require authorization to go outside, with a maximum one hour allowed and exceptions made for reasons like work. Schools remain open, in contrast to a spring lockdown. Widely seen as a lighter version of France’s spring lockdown, it has been taken less seriously by some.

As of Friday night, nearly 43,900 people have died in France since the coronavirus began spreading through the country. French hospitals are stretched and delaying some operations to tend to COVID-19 patients.

France is not the only country contending with lockdown rebels as the virus surges anew in Europe.

Two foreign exchange students in Greece who hosted an after-hours party at their apartment in the northern city of Thessaloniki were arrested at 10.30 p.m. Friday and fined 3,000 euros ($3,550) each on the spot. The 24-year-old Palestinian man and 21-year-old woman from France received suspended prison sentences of 2 years and two months on Saturday.

Their 15 party guests, all university students from western Europe, were fined 300 euros ($355) each but not arrested.

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Demitris Nellas contributed from Athens.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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