French police will be out in force to punish New Year’s Eve revellers daring to hold clandestine parties or flout curfew rules as they ring in 2021 amid stiff coronavirus restrictions.
As the planet turns the page on a tumultuous 2020, with billions forced to celebrate the New Year in private and at home, curfew-hit France has been placed under heavy surveillance – with 100,000 police officers and gendarmes mobilised to enforce the rules.
While small family gatherings are allowed, French people are forbidden from leaving their homes between the hours of 8pm in most of the country (6pm in some eastern areas) and 6am.
The government recommends private groups of no more than six adults, calling on “individual responsibility” to determine the exact number, along with suitable barrier measures.
Unlike Christmas Eve, when a “curfew truce” was introduced, New Year’s Eve guests will need to wait until 6am before travelling home.
Secret parties targeted
"We are going to hunt down parties held in secret,” Stanislas Gaudon of the Alliance police union, told France Info radio, warning that police officers had received "firm instructions".
Often the scene of urban violence, New Year’s Eve is known for attacks on police, Gaudon added. “I also remind you that beyond the missions linked to urban violence and clandestine parties, we are still under the threat of terrorism.”
Police authorities have been clear they won’t be carrying out door-to-door inspections, but rather will be on the look out for large-scale parties that pose a major risk of virus contamination.
Several departments have issued orders prohibiting the sale of alcohol for New Year's Eve, in line with recommendations by the Interior Ministry.