Parisians have been banned from drinking alcohol on the banks of the Saint-Martin canal and the Seine river after police were forced to disperse crowds just hours after an eight-week coronavirus lockdown was eased.
Many city dwellers stuck in flats without balconies, terraces or gardens for almost two months turned out on Monday evening to celebrate. Photos quickly circulated of unmasked revellers gathering by the water in the French capital.
On the orders of the interior ministry, Paris’s police prefect issued a ban, saying it “deplored” having to do so in an indignant press release reminding everyone that the success of the déconfinement rested on “the principle of each citizen’s individual responsibility”.
“Barely a few hours after the lifting of the lockdown, dozens of people gathered … without respecting social distances and the health recommendations that have even so been hammered home for the past few weeks,” the press release said.
“The prefect of police deplores the fact that, on the first day of deconfinement, he has had to take measures to prohibit the consumption of alcohol on the public highway.”
The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, also expressed his displeasure, criticising the “irresponsible behaviour”. “The success of the déconfinement depends on everyone’s prudence and civic-mindedness,” he wrote on Twitter.
The government has divided France into green and red areas, with Paris and three other “red” regions seeing a more limited relaxation of the rules.
French police and gendarmes are going to be busy over the next three weeks despite the end of lockdown. Although the French no longer need a sworn declaration to leave their homes, a new rule is being introduced until 10 July that nobody can travel more than 100km from their main home “as the crow flies” outside their département without a “compelling” professional or family reason.
This will require people who are planning a long journey to carry a new sworn declaration, giving one of seven reasons. The document can be downloaded on a telephone.