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Organisers sought after 10,000 attend illegal rave

Police are searching for the organisers of an illegal rave that drew thousands of partygoers to a national park in central France last weekend.

Up to 10,000 people are believed to have attended the festival, held on the edge of the Cévennes National Park, in the département of Lozère, from Saturday 8 August. According to local media, officers of the Mobile Gendarmery were sent in to lock down the gathering on Sunday (9 August) afternoon.

Events of more than 5,000 attendees are banned in France until at least 30 August. Further implicating organisers, the event was held in a protected area (the park is a Unesco world heritage site), while photos captured by the AFP news agency show unmasked attendees failing to observe social distancing.

According to Midi Libre, the party finally came to a close yesterday (12 August) afternoon, with police impounding sound equipment, generators, a trailer and a 3.5-tonne van.

“This massive influx of people who flout all the rules has shocked us profoundly”

Gendarmes had previously been guarding the festival site, preventing vehicles from leaving, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, local authorities tell AFP.

Valerie Hatsch, state representative (prefect) for Lozère, says locals were outraged by the influx of revellers into the region, which has escaped the worst of the coronavirus crisis. “People from Lozère take Covid very seriously,” she said on Sunday. “They have respected the social distancing measures and this massive influx of people who flout all the rules has shocked them profoundly.”

There has been increasing concern in France about illegal outdoor parties during the hot summer season, according to The Local.

In the UK, illegal raves have also been on the increase, with illicit parties in Waltham Forest, the Forest of Dean and Harborough, Leicestershire, among the latest to have sparked anxiety among local authorities.

 


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Third Summer of Love? Illegal raves on the rise in UK

Thousands of Britons are believed to have attended illegal, non-socially distanced ‘quarantine raves’ on Friday and Saturday (12–13 June), prompting concerns of a spike in new Covid-19 infections.

In scenes that looked more like the late-80s heyday of acid house than the locked-down Britain of 2020, ravers defied restrictions on gatherings of more than six people to drink, dance and get far too close to one another at unlicensed parties in woodland near cities including Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and Lichfield, Staffordshire.

The largest parties were in Manchester, with an estimated 6,000 people believed to have attended two raves, in Daisy Nook Country Park and near Carrington, a village in Trafford, on Saturday night. The illegal events were roundly condemned after one person died of a suspected drug overdose in the country park, and two men were stabbed and a woman raped in Carrington.

Sacha Lord, founder of Parklife festival and Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, described those who attended as a “disgrace” who have put themselves and their loved ones at infection.

Social media video from the Daisy Nook event appears to show revellers dancing and inhaling nitrous oxide, while a banner above the DJ booth is emblazoned ‘quarantine rave’:

“Gathering for an illegal rave at a local beauty spot is something that would be rightly condemned at any time, for the danger it places people in and the mess that is left for others to clean up,” says the leader of Oldham Council, Sean Fielding, “though for this to happen in the middle of a global coronavirus pandemic adds an entirely new dimension to how irresponsible and selfish this gathering was.

“Gathering in these numbers under these circumstances has put many more people at risk of harm than just those present.”

In Brookhay Woods, near Lichfield, one raver was arrested after spitting at a police officer, according to Staffordshire Police, while the event near Leeds forced road closures after partygoers left the area by walking along motorways.

“DIY alternatives are being organised by opportunists, using unscrupulous suppliers who are purely focused on financial gain with no regard for safety”

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has called for those organising or supplying services to illegal raves to be blacklisted by the industry.
“Small house parties and raves have been bubbling under the surface of society for many years now, but the current situation under lockdown has intensified this, as young people search for alternatives and continue in a struggle to cope with the current restrictions on their lives due to the pandemic,” he says.

“The night-time economy and events sector provide safe spaces for young people to express themselves, but are currently unable to open, DIY alternatives are being organised by opportunists, using unscrupulous suppliers who are purely focused on financial gain, with no regard for the safety of those attending. The terrible incidents this weekend at an illegal rave in Manchester resulted in several serious incidents and the sad death of a young man from a drug overdose.

“The NTIA does not condone this kind of activity in any way, as this behaviour adds to an already challenging reputation for the night-time economy and events sector sector with regulators. Operators and suppliers breaking the law for profit and encouraging illegal raves should be blacklisted.

“Thousands of promoters and venues remain closed to save lives and the NHS [National Health Service], while struggling to maintain their businesses while a small minority are now running illegal events jeopardising the hard work and sacrifice of others.”

 


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