France found itself in the midst of a controversy this weekend after the broadcast of a report on a national broadcaster denouncing luxury dinners in Paris, made despite restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With prices ranging from 160 euros to 490 euros (R $ 1,070 to R $ 3,280), the underground events have sparked political fury, and the population accuses the elite of ignoring the rules they themselves have established – the country maintains all restaurants and eateries. cafes closed and restrictions tightened after cases continued to rise.
The report by the closed television channel M6 showed images captured by a hidden camera in a place identified as being located in a privileged district of Paris. Without a restaurant facade, it was necessary to visit it – masks, however, were not part of the obligations. “After walking through the door, there is no more Covid,” said a local official.
A person interviewed by M6, whose identity has not been revealed, said he had participated in two or three nights in these restaurants, even in the presence of a number of ministers.
The source was then identified by the French press and by internet users as Pierre-Jean Chalençon, owner of the luxurious Palais Vivienne in central Paris. In a statement sent to the AFP news agency through his lawyer, Chalençon implicitly admitted that he was the source, but said he just wanted to show “humor and absurdity” by involving politicians in his statement.
After the report aired on Friday (2) night, the hashtag #OnVeutLesNoms (We want names) went viral on Twitter, as there was speculation about who might have attended the dinners.
Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz said on Sunday that he had opened a criminal investigation for putting the lives of others in danger. The investigation aims to prove “if the nights were organized in defiance of health standards and to determine who were the organizers and possible participants”.
For event organizers, the penalty can be up to 1 year in prison, with a fine of 15 thousand euros (100 thousand R $). For those who frequent the premises, two fines of 135 euros (R $ 905) each can be imposed: one for non-compliance with the curfew in force and the other for not wearing a mask, which is mandatory in the country.
The sumptuous dinners also drew a reaction from members of the office of French President Emmanuel Macron. Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa defended that if there are ministers or lawmakers involved, they should be penalized like any other citizen.
The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, for his part replied that all the ministers respected the rules. Interior wallet holder Gerald Darmanin has warned those involved should be prosecuted if the allegations are confirmed. “There are not two types of citizens: those who are entitled to the party and those who are not,” he said.
According to data from the Our World in Data site, France had around 4.8 million cases and 97,000 deaths until Sunday (4), and just over 13% of the country’s population has already received at least one dose of the vaccine against Covid -19.
While vaccination, as in Europe, is progressing slowly, the French president has extended restrictions already in place in 19 departments to the whole country. Since Saturday (3), non-essential businesses must remain closed and travel over 10 km is prohibited for four weeks. Schools from kindergarten to high school closed on Mondays (5) for at least three weeks.