Friday, March 5, 2021

France mobilises 100,000 police to stop New Year’s Eve parties, car burning

Overnight curfew will continue to be enforced at 8pm but may be brought forward to 6pm in areas with rising infection rates.

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France is putting 100,000 police and gendarmes on the streets for New Year’s Eve to crack down on parties and enforce a curfew imposed to combat coronavirus.

The police will also prevent urban unrest, which has seen rioters setting fire to large numbers of vehicles in previous years.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered a visible security presence in city centres and flashpoint suburbs from 8pm, when the curfew begins, France24 reports.

Darmanin has written to regional leaders informing them of Thursday’s “exceptional” mobilisation. This will amount to an “affirmation of state authority in every part of the national territory”, he said.

Officers will be instructed to break up underground and street parties as soon as they are reported, fine revellers and identify and deal with the organisers.

Patrols meanwhile are to carry out “appropriate identity checks” and search vehicles for “dangerous elements” that could be used against officers.

In Paris half of the metro lines will be closed in the evening and Darmanin has also asked for a wider public transport shutdown across the country.

France has confirmed 2.6 million Covid-19 cases, the fifth highest total in the world, and more than 64,000 deaths.

Officials are saying that in areas with rising infection rates the overnight curfew could be brought forward to begin at 6pm.

However, a government spokesman said there was no need for local lockdowns for now. France has already had two national lockdowns.

Bars, restaurants and cultural attractions will remain closed into mid-January.

Darmanin is also encouraging shops to limit or stop the sale of flammable liquids in portable containers and takeaway alcoholic drinks.

He has also suggested that local authorities do not publicise incidents of cars set alight to “avoid any incidence of ‘competition'” between different gang territories.

Car burning has become an annual New Year’s event in French suburbs since riots in 2005 in Paris and elsewhere. Last year a record 1,457 cars were torched across France on New Year’s Eve, according to media reports. The previous year’s figure was 1,290.

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