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French police bust 100 people breaking Covid restrictions in underground restaurant

Participants were shown enjoying caviar and champagne at the event costing €220 per person.

Image: Shutterstock/Mademoiselle N

POLICE IN PARIS fined over 100 diners late Friday at an underground restaurant flouting coronavirus restrictions and arrested its organiser, after a week of allegations that ministers attended similar rule-breaking events.

Officers were “called out for an excessive noise complaint about a restaurant” and “put an end to a gathering of over 110 people,” the French capital’s police posted on Twitter.

“Guests fined for failing to respect applicable health measures. Organiser and manager arrested,” they added.

In a second incident in Saint-Ouen, just outside Paris, police fined 62 people at lunchtime on Friday, news channel BFMTV reported.

Police tweeted that they had arrested the manager of that restaurant as well.

Underground restaurants offering wealthy people a pre-coronavirus dining experience have made headlines in France throughout this week.

The M6 private television channel last week broadcast a reportage based on footage recorded with a hidden camera purportedly from a clandestine restaurant in a high-end area of Paris where neither the staff nor the diners were wearing masks.

Participants were shown enjoying caviar and champagne at the event costing €220 per person.

All restaurants and cafés have been closed in France for eating in for the last five months. The country this week began a new limited nationwide lockdown to deal with surging Covid-19 infections.

One of the organisers of the dinner shown by M6, businessman and collector Pierre-Jean-Chalencon, was briefly detained for questioning by police Friday alongside chef Christophe Leroy.

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Chalencon had claimed to have held several dinners at his luxury Palais Vivienne venue in central Paris attended by ministers.

“At this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence that indicates any members of the government took part in the dinners being investigated,” prosecutors said after interviewing him.

© AFP 2021

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