Fury at illegal rave that drew 10,000 people to remote French countryside

An illegal outdoor rave party that drew thousands to a remote mountain plateau and defied coronavirus rules on social distancing has sparked fury in France's least populated region.

Fury at illegal rave that drew 10,000 people to remote French countryside
Illustration photo: AFP

Police in the Lozère region blocked off an area in the Cevennes national park where up to 10,000 people, including small children, attended the illegal rave at the weekend, local authorities said.

After initially being strictly locked down by the security forces, the partygoers were being gradually allowed to leave and by Monday afternoon around 4,500 people were still present at the site, local Préfet Valerie Hatsch, said in a statement.

Police had been guarding the secluded site in a protected area of the national park, preventing vehicles from leaving “for health reasons linked to the risk of spreading Covid-19,” the local authorities earlier told AFP.

They initially blocked off the area at the weekend to prevent new partygoers joining. Police were now checking the alcohol levels of those leaving and ensuring there were no traffic blockages on roads at the height of the season.

Many people were still so inebriated that they were unable to drive anyway from the site on the Causse Mejean plateau, officials said.

Some 10,000 people in hundreds of cars had streamed to the site around midnight on Saturday for a rave party that flouted a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lozère, France's least populated department, has been spared the worst of the pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 30,000 lives nationwide.

Locals were furious about the risks posed by the event. Authorities said the revellers did not wear masks and ignored social distancing rules.

“People from Lozère take Covid very seriously, they have respected the distancing measures and this massive influx of people who flout all the rules has shocked them profoundly,” Hatsch said on Sunday.

Farmers were also angry that the partygoers invaded pasture and fields, damaging them in a national park where farmers themselves operate only under restrictions.

Police handed out fines for public drunkenness and drug use and testing facilities were also being set up, the prefecture said.

There were several young children among the party-goers, and a mobile clinic and Red Cross personnel were sent in to ensure everyone's safety.

With France in the grip of a heat wave, authorities handed out water and distributed face masks and sanitising hand gel.

There has been increasing concern in France about illegal outdoor parties during a hot summer season as coronavirus cases increase, especially among people in their 20s.

A seaside DJ set organised by the Mediterranean city of Nice last month also prompted health fears.

Member comments

  1. It seems, to me, we must isolate ourselves from danger – by age group.

    This means avoiding young people (I’m old) and other such careless idiots.

    There are no specific measurements, that I know of, for selfishness or stupidity.

    My experience of the world, however, is: NEVER, EVER, UNDERESTIMATE EITHER OF THEM.

  2. It seems to me the police showed restraint rather than heavy handedness. Given that group was in violation of the law that’s in place to protect the population.

    And now, the ravers will continue to endanger lives… 10,000 possible new virus vectors going back to their homes… sharing their bacteria.

    The ramifications of their behaviour was completely overwhelmed by their selfish inability to defer gratification until it is safe. The virus has revealed the rapacious greed for “a good time” no matter the consequences. So disappointing.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.