An illegal rave attended by more than 2,500 people in France, held in defiance of strict Covid rules, was shut down on Saturday by hundreds of police officers.
There were reports of clashes between police and the revellers at the disused warehouse in Lieuron, near Rennes, Brittany, after the New Year’s Eve event began on Thursday.
People travelled from across France to attend the event, with the BBC reporting a statement from French police which indicated party-goers had also arrived from the UK and Spain.
The clashes prompted police to wait for reinforcements to be deployed before moving in to put an end to the party, Emmanuel Berthier, head of the Ille-et-Vilaine prefecture, told reporters.
Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that more than 1,200 party-goers were issued with penalty notices as they left the site, adding that the event’s organisers were being identified and would be prosecuted.
About 800 of the revellers were sanctioned for attending an illegal party, breaking curfew and not wearing masks, and the rest were mostly issued notices for using illegal drugs, Berthier said.
There were also five arrests and sound and lighting equipment was seized, he added.
Prosecutors in Rennes have opened a probe into the illegal organisation of a musical event and violence against persons of authority, the prefecture said, while local health authorities urged party-goers to self-isolate for seven days.
During the clashes on New Year’s Eve, people attending the party threw bottles and rocks at police, and several officers suffered minor injuries. A police car caught fire and three others were damaged.
With the highest number of Covid-19 cases in western Europe, France is stepping up coronavirus restrictions, imposing an earlier curfew in 15 northeastern and southeastern departments from Saturday, starting at 6pm. instead of 8pm.
Like England, France has already had two national lockdowns start of the pandemic. The latest was eased in mid-December, but restaurants and bars are off-limits for now and it is not clear when they might reopen.