France deploys 100,000 police to stop New Year’s Eve gatherings over covid
London, Dec. 31, 2020 (AltAfrica)-France is to deploy 100,000 police and gendarmes on New Year’s Eve to break up parties and enforce a curfew imposed to combat coronavirus.
The extra security also aims at halting the torching of cars that often takes place on the final night of the year.
France has confirmed 2.6m Covid-19 cases, the fifth highest total in the world, and more than 64,000 deaths.
Like other European countries, France will see muted celebrations for New Year’s Eve amid the pandemic.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has ordered a visible security presence in city centres and flashpoint suburbs from 20:00, when the curfew begins.
In Paris half of the metro lines will be closed in the evening, while Mr Darmanin also asked for a wider public transport shutdown across the country to be considered.
Despite rising cases, and concerns over a new more contagious strain of the disease, a government spokesman said there was no need for local lockdowns for now. France has had two national lockdowns and bars, restaurants and cultural attractions will remain closed into January.
Mr Darmanin has written to regional leaders informing them of Thursday’s “exceptional” mobilisation of 100,000 police and gendarmes.
This would amount to an “affirmation of state authority in every part of the national territory”, he said.
Officers will be instructed to break up underground parties as soon as they are reported, fine participants and identify the organisers.
Patrols meanwhile are to carry out “appropriate identity checks” and search vehicles for “dangerous elements” that could be used against officers.
Mr 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 areas.
Car burning has effectively become an annual 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. BBC