France Mobilises 100,000 Police To Stop New Year’s Eve Parties
Around 100,000 police and gendarmes are being deployed to the streets of France to break up New Year’s Eve parties and enforce the country’s curfew.
France has the fifth highest number of reported cases of COVID-19 in the world, with more than 2.6 million cases and more than 64,000 deaths. Like many countries around the world, New Year’s Eve celebrations in the country will be significantly different from most years.
A curfew of 8.00pm has been put in place by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, and a heightened security presence will be visible in city centres and suburbs where gatherings are known to take place. The extra security will also be on the lookout for people torching cars, something of a tradition – albeit a much-loathed one by authorities and car owners – in France.
Half of the metro lines in Paris will be closed for the evening, and further shutdowns of public transport across the rest of the country are expected.
Interior Minister Darmanin wrote to regional leaders across France to inform of the ‘exceptional’ mobilisation of 100,000 police and gendarmes, saying it will be an ‘affirmation of state authority in every part of the national territory,’ BBC News reports.
Parties will be broken up as soon as they are reported, while the organisers and participants will be fined. Patrols will also be carried out, with officers conducting ‘appropriate identity checks’ and searching vehicles for ‘dangerous elements’.
The interior minister also asked shops to limit the sale of takeaway alcoholic drinks and any flammable liquid, while asking local authorities not to publicise any car being set alight, to ‘avoid any incidence of competition’ between different regions. Last year, 1,457 cars were set on fire during New Year’s Eve, the stunt has become somewhat of a tradition since the 2005 French riots.
France has so far had two national lockdowns due to coronavirus, while bars, restaurants and cultural attractions are remaining closed into January. A government spokesperson, however, said there was no need for local lockdowns at the moment, despite rising cases and concerns over the new, more contagious strain of the virus.
Elsewhere, in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked people to ‘follow the rules where you live’ and ‘see in the new year safely at home,’ after 75% of the UK was placed into tier 4 restrictions in an effort to curb the continuing spread of the new strain of coronavirus.
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