Covid-19. French authorities investigate presence of ministers at clandestine parties

Covid-19. French authorities investigate presence of ministers at clandestine parties
Covid-19. French authorities investigate presence of ministers at clandestine parties
France is one of the European countries that have been most affected by the pandemic and, last week, announced a new confinement in the face of the increase in cases and the third wave of Covid-19 that is plaguing the territory. But a report by the French channel M6 came to stir up the French and social networks, revealing that the restrictions are only for some, or that, at least, are not met by all.
Champagne, caviar and people without a mask: that was what the M6 ​​channel revealed in a report about the various sophisticated “underground restaurants” that continue to serve the Parisian elite, violating the restrictions to contain the pandemic imposed across the country.The most controversial was the report, through a hidden camera, showing an organizer of dinners and clandestine parties admitting that members of the French Government were among the participants, although he had not identified them.

The images transmitted by the television station showed an expensive restaurant, with menus between 160 and 490 euros, operating normally without any regard for the security rules due to Covid-19 – no masks (which are supposedly prohibited on the premises), no social distance and no restrictions on the number of guests.

In another restaurant, where each meal is supposed to cost 220 euros, guests appear well dressed, kissing each other on the cheeks when they greet each other and walking on a red carpet.

After going through the door, there is no Covid. We want people to feel at ease. This is a private club. We want people to feel at home “, said one of the interviewees, who emphasizes that the mask is not mandatory.

“We are still a democracy, we do what we want”, he added.

Another interviewee, allegedly one of the organizers of these private dinners, declared anonymously in the video that he had already dined in “two or three restaurants this week” and saw government ministers doing the same. But, subsequently identified as Pierre-Jean Chalençon, owner of the Palais Vivienne restaurant – which is in the center of Paris and appears to be the location filmed by the M6 ​​-, the businessman came to say that he was just playing when he made such statements and said he had “a peculiar sense of humor”, adding that he never saw a member of the executive at any clandestine event.

In a statement addressed to the AFP news agency by his lawyer, the organizer implicitly acknowledged to be the source of information, but claimed that he relied on “humor” and the “sense of absurdity” when he stated that ministers participated in these dinners and parties.But in a video released in February, Pierre-Jean Chalençon already admitted that he was organizing lunches and dinners at his home with ‘chef’ Christophe Leroy.

French Government spokesman Gabriel Attal, mentioned in the video as one of the next participants in one of these dinners, was surprised by the video, published on the social network Twitter, and denied the presence of any member of the Government at these meals. Speaking for all the ministers, the head of the Economy portfolio, Bruno Le Maire, defended that “all ministers, without exception, respect the rules”.

The report has provoked, since its broadcast, a lot of indignation on the part of the population that continues to live under the tight restrictions that the Government imposed.

However, several members of Emmanuel Macron’s government denied being involved in or knowing of colleagues who participated in these events. But Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin demanded that the allegations be investigated.

The French Government has also promised that there will be no impunity if ministers are confirmed at clandestine parties and dinners, as reported on a television program.

French police investigate clandestine dinners

This Monday, French police announced that they had opened an investigation into the alleged participation of ministers in illegal parties and dinners held in exclusive locations in Paris and without respecting security rules due to covid-19.In a few hours, after the report was broadcast, the hashtag #OnVeutLesNoms (#Queremososnomes) has become the trend on Twitter, with more than 16,000 messages from internet users asking who the ministers are and asking for their resignation.

“I asked the Paris Police officer to prove the truth of the facts so that, if they are true, he will pursue the organizers and participants of these clandestine dinners,” said French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Twitter.

“There are no two types of citizens – those who are entitled to parties and those who are not”, he said.

The police later responded with another message in which they reported that an investigation had been opened.The Deputy Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, has already stated that if it is found that any member of the Executive participated in these illegal parties, there will be no privilege.

“If ministers or deputies have broken the rules, it is necessary to have fines and to be sanctioned like any other citizen”, he stressed on Europe 1 radio, also adding on Twitter that the resignation is taken for granted if the accusations are confirmed.

However, anti-capitalist activists and critics of President Emmanuel Macron are not convinced that the investigation will be conclusive and are planning a protest on Tuesday – announced on social media under the banner “Let’s eat the rich” – in one of the supposed secret places.

Remember that French restaurants have been closed since October to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and the country has just entered a new confinement to ease the pressure from French hospitals.

“I’m getting tired of it. There’s no use going to work”, nurse Michele Feret told the Associated Press. “Let them go to restaurants,” he said, adding that no one, including ministers, “has special protection” against the virus.

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