Diner in secret Paris Soiree is fined for blockade breach

The Paris Police Department fined late Friday for more than 110 people eating in a secret restaurant violating the COVID-19 lockdown a few days after the government denied allegations that the minister had participated in a similar underground soiree. He said he was fined.

The raid in the 19th arrondissement of the French capital was the latest police action against a restaurant that violated the rule of providing patrons with part of its pre-pandemic life.

Restaurants, bars and cafes have been closed for months to sit and eat, raising public frustration amid a third national blockade and another wave of coronavirus infections.

“Guests were fined for not respecting hygiene measures. The organizers and managers were arrested,” city police said on Twitter.

In another case, dozens of diners were sanctioned for eating out at a restaurant in Saint-Ouen, a suburb of Paris, at lunchtime on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has rejected allegations broadcast by flashy businessmen on private M6 television stations. He said earlier this week that he hosted several illegal dinner parties attended by the minister.

Businessman Pierre Jean Charencon later withdrew his remarks about the minister’s existence, but the problem continues to plague the government.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said at a press conference Thursday that the government had no reason to believe that any minister attended an illegal dinner party.

Sharencon was temporarily detained by police for cross-examination on Friday, but downplayed the case.

“The police are great people,” he told reporters. “That was just a question.”

Richard Ruff