French police bust 100 illegal diners at underground Paris restaurant

French police bust 100 illegal diners at underground Paris restaurant
The outside of Palais Vivienne apartment, owned by French collector Pierre-Jean Chalencon. Credit: THOMAS COEX / AFP
Paris police fined over 100 diners late Friday at an underground restaurant flouting coronavirus restrictions and arrested its organiser, after a week of allegations that ministers attended similar rule-breaking events.

Officers were “called out for an excessive noise complaint about a restaurant” and “put an end to a gathering of over 110 people,” the French capital’s police posted on Twitter.

“Guests fined for failing to respect applicable health measures. Organiser and manager arrested,” they added.

Underground restaurants offering wealthy people a pre-coronavirus dining experience have made headlines in France throughout this week.

The M6 private television channel last week broadcast a reportage based on footage recorded with a hidden camera purportedly from a clandestine restaurant in a high-end area of Paris where neither the staff nor the diners were wearing masks.

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Participants were shown enjoying caviar and champagne at the event costing €220 per person.

All restaurants and cafes have been closed in France for eating-in for the last five months. The country this week began a new limited nationwide lockdown to deal with surging Covid-19 infections.

One of the organisers of the dinner shown by M6, businessman and collector Pierre-Jean-Chalencon, was briefly detained for questioning by police Friday alongside chef Christophe Leroy.

Chalencon had claimed to have held several dinners at his luxury Palais Vivienne venue in central Paris attended by ministers.

“At this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence that indicates any members of the government took part in the dinners being investigated,” prosecutors said after interviewing him.


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  1. This is based on what was known a year ago. I believe the situation is worse now. If you catch flu you may pass it on and infect up to 14 people when taken to 10 iterations. When you catch Covid 19 (and not the newer more contageous version) you can infect up to 59,000 people when taken to 10 iterations, some of whom are bound to die. As these diners are by implication wealthy and careless I hope they are fined to a level to refelct the financial cost to society, though nothing can reflect the emotional cost to those few and their familes who require hospital treatment. I don’t know how much one person’s medical costs, costs the national budget; €10-20k?, (4 days in hospital for tests cost me €9000) so suppose 10 of the 59,000 require hospital treatment. A fine of at least €100,000 would not be an unreasonable contribution to reimburse us the costs we have to bear for their selfish, inconsiderate, flagrant disregard of other’s lives.

    At the time, March 2020, Intensive care specialist Professor Hugh Montgomery noted that “If you are irresponsible enough to think that you don’t mind if you get the flu, remember it’s not about you, it’s about everybody else,” It still holds true, I beleive.

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