Illegal NYE rave party near Rennes finally ends, 1,200 fined

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Revellers at an illegal New Year's Eve rave in western France have finally begun to leave the site after the sound was cut, two days after it began, according to local police. Some 2,500 people flocked to the unused warehouses in Lieuron, south of Rennes, despite Covid-19 health restrictions and attempts by police to shut the techno party down.

The prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine department said on Twitter that police had finally taken control of the site at 10:15 on Saturday morning after the music was switched off and people began leaving.

Some 1,200 people were fined for breaking coronavirus restrictions, including failure to respect the 8pm-6am curfew, not wearing masks and participating in an unauthorised gathering, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Police attempted to break up the party on Thursday, but faced forceful resistance from the partygoers, who set fire to one of their cars.

Such mass gatherings are strictly prohibited across France to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The prefecture said the first revellers began leaving Saturday morning without further intervention from the police.

"There has been no intervention by security forces," said the prefecture in a statement, adding that police were checking all those leaving the site.

Only "a few hundred" revellers remained, the prefecture said, quoting an association that oversees the security risks of such events.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that the large police presence at the site had led to the breakup of the rave "without violence".

About half of the car park at the site was empty Saturday morning, an AFP photographer said.