French police told to crack down on large outdoor gatherings

The French interior minister has asked police to issue to fines to people who gather in groups of more than six outside, especially in areas such as parks, gardens and riverbanks.

French police told to crack down on large outdoor gatherings
Parisians flocked to the Seine riverbanks on Saturday, March 20th, the first day of the lockdown 'light' in France. Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wants to put an end to scenes of large outdoor gatherings, and has told regional authorities to reinforce policing, according to a document seen by French media.

He has asked that “public gatherings of more than six people are subject to strict fines”. The crackdown is for the whole country and not just those areas recently placed under a new ‘lockdown light’.

France banned gatherings of more than six people in public during the second lockdown in October, but few are familiar with the rule and police rarely enforce it.

This will now change, as the interior minister in his note asked for reinforced policing of parks, gardens and riverbanks to prevent scenes as seen in Paris during the first weekend of the new restrictions, when scores of people gathered by the Seine to enjoy the sunny weather.

Breaking the rule could be punishable with a €135 fine, rising to €3,750 and six months in jail for repeat offenders.

Protests, large families, work gatherings and funeral ceremonies are exempt from the rule, the interior ministry specified.

The government has also asked that people living in areas free from lockdown measures limit their private gatherings to six people, but this is a guideline, not a rule.

MAP: Is your French département at risk of being placed under ‘lockdown light’?

In the 16 départements on lockdown, the government has asked that everyone stops inviting people from outside their household to their homes. Instead they should meet up with friends or extended family outside in public in small groups.

For full details on the Covid-19 rules and guidelines, click HERE.

This comes as Covid-19 rates continue to soar, with three additional départements set to be added to the list of areas currently on the new lockdown.

Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday at 6pm to lay out the latest health situation. He is not expected to announce new measures for the 16 départements currently on tighter measures.

The president of the greater Paris region Île-de-France Valerie Pecresse has suggested bringing forward school holidays by two weeks to help stem the third wave.

Despite cases rising among schools, leading to classes being sent home, the government has insisted closing them is still a last resort.

Member comments

  1. “police rarely enforce it”

    What police? I was at the quai 4 weekends ago and there were maybe a thousand people on the small stretch close to sully-morland, and 4 cops there. Are 4 cops going to fine everyone? In the whole year since this whole thing started I’ve never seen a single police stopping anyone for an attestation, never mind fining them, and I live near Place de la Republique so not exactly a small quiet back-street. In fact, apart from at the usual manifs and that one time 4 weeks ago, I’ve never seen any police patrols on the street even pretending to enforce curfews/lockdowns.

    The idea of “reinforced policing” assumes that there’s actual “policing” going on in the first place, which there’s no evidence of. If the interior minister wants people to start obeying the rules he needs to actually put more actual boots on the street to do it, not just tell the 1-2 guys that are allegedly there already to “work harder”.

  2. Lock downs don’t work. Masks don’t work and become filthy and actually make one sick. Stop listening to hysteria by the media. Be sensible.

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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.