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20 May, 2021 18:36

French interior minister calls on cops to crack down on people flouting Covid curfew after ‘deplorable’ scenes at bars & cafes

French interior minister calls on cops to crack down on people flouting Covid curfew after ‘deplorable’ scenes at bars & cafes

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has vowed to come down with force on those flouting the country’s Covid-19 rules after footage showed crowds of lockdown-weary revelers flocking to bars and restaurants.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Darmanin said he had asked law enforcement to act with “great firmness” against anyone not respecting France’s 9pm curfew.

The minister criticized the “deplorable” scenes across the country on Wednesday as cafes, bars and restaurants legally opened up for the first time in six months.

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Darmanin said police and gendarmes had been ordered to intervene and shut down traders who stay open beyond the 9pm cutoff, and remove punters flouting the restrictions.

Footage from the cities of Bordeaux, Marseille and the capital Paris showed people enjoying a drink on packed-out terraces on Wednesday.

However, not everyone appeared to adhere to social distancing rules and the six-person limit at tables.

The northwest city of Rennes also saw a group of more than 1,000 people descend on the central square of Place Sainte-Anne to party beyond 9pm, as venues closed for the night.

Bar furniture and wooden pallets were set alight, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse those gathered, according to Ouest-France.

Following the trouble, Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday called for the public to “respect the rules” and exercise “collective discipline” as France’s hospitality sector reopens after lockdown.

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