An illegal rave in the French region of Lozère drew nearly 10,000 people last weekend, before being arrested, and temporarily locked, by authorities.
According to a report from French media The Local, hundreds of vehicles arrived at the Cévennes National Park site on Saturday August 8. Authorities not present wore face masks and no social distancing was implemented or followed. French regulations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic currently set a ceiling of 5,000 participants at all outdoor events.
The authorities responded by blocking the site of the event, “for health reasons linked to the risk of the spread of Covid-19”. All the new arrivals have been turned away, while many who have attempted to leave have been prevented from doing so to ensure safety and avoid traffic blockages on rural roads.
Authorities also said many attendants were too intoxicated to leave the area safely by vehicle, and fines for public intoxication and drug use had been imposed. Drinking water, face masks and hand sanitizer gel were also distributed.
As of Monday afternoon, approximately 4,500 people stayed behind.
Lozère is the least populated region in France, with breeding and tourism being the main industries. The region has been spared the worst of the pandemic due to its small population and regulatory compliance by its communities. Residents expressed anger at the ravers, many of whom had traveled from outside the region to party on farmland with little to no consideration for regulations and safety restrictions.
In an official statement made public on Sunday, the local prefect Valérie Hatsch declared: “The Lozères take Covid very seriously, they have respected the distancing measures and this massive influx of people who flout all the rules has deeply shocked them”.
A mobile clinic was set up on site and Red Cross staff were called in to ensure the safety of everyone present, including a number of young children.
You can see a video of the event below, shared by France 3 Occitanie.
France’s ban on assembling more than 5,000 people was extended this week following news that new coronavirus infections in France have nearly doubled in recent weeks. The Ministry of Health has reported 1,397 new Covid-19 infections since Monday, August 10 and 14 deaths.
It comes at a time when illegal raves are on the increase across Europe, along with licensed and legal outdoor dance music events. The resurgence of both dismissed and unlicensed parties has proven controversial, with many questioning the safety of such events, even with mask-wearing regulations and other measures in place. For a new feature, DJ Mag spoke to venue owners, promoters, and ravers about their hopes and fears over illegal raves and other topics, in the wake of COVID-19. One interviewee, a raver, spoke of the anxiety he feels at the prospect of returning to rave as the pandemic continues: “It could put some people at risk; it’s still transmissible, ”he said. Warm Up promoter Aidan Doherty also talks about it in his interview. “I noticed, unfortunately, how divided the scene has become in some ways,” he told us. “There are almost 50/50 people who want to start living again and doing what they love, and the other half who feel it’s too early to even consider that.” He adds, “People are more emotional than ever at the moment, resulting in cases of public disorder and increasingly rebellious behavior.”