An illegal rave in the French region of Lozère attracted nearly 10,000 people last weekend, before being shut down, and temporarily locked down, by authorities. 

According to a report by French news outlet The Local, hundreds of vehicles arrived at the site in the Cévennes National Park on Saturday (8th August). Authorities few in attendance were wearing face masks, and no social distancing was being implemented or followed. French regulations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic currently put a cap of 5,000 attendants on all outdoor events. 

Authorities responded by blocking off the site of the event, “for health reasons linked to the risk of spreading Covid-19”. All new arrivals were turned away, while many who attempted to leave were prevented from doing so to ensure safety, and to prevent traffic blockages on the rural roads. 

Authorities also stated that many attendants were too inebriated to safely leave the area by vehicle, and fines for public drunkenness and drug use were handed out. Drinking water, face masks and disinfectant hand gel were also distributed. 

By Monday afternoon, approximately 4,500 people remained on site. 

Lozère is France’s least populated region, with cattle farming and tourism being the primary industries. The region was spared from the worst of the pandemic due to its sparse population and its communities’ abiding by the regulations. Locals expressed anger at the ravers, many of whom had travelled from outside the region to party on farmland with little or no regard for safety regulations and restrictions. 

In an official statement released on Sunday, local Préfet Valerie Hatsch said: “People from Lozère take Covid very seriously, they have respected the distancing measures and this massive influx of people who flout all the rules has shocked them profoundly.”

A mobile clinic was set up on site and Red Cross personnel were called in to ensure the safety of all in attendance, among them a number of young children.

You can see a video of the event below, as shared by France 3 Occitanie.

France’s ban on gatherings of over 5,000 people has been extended this week following news that  new coronavirus infections in France have almost doubled in recent weeks. The health ministry reported 1,397 new infections of Covid-19 since Monday (10th August) and 14 deaths. 

It comes at a time when illegal raves are on the rise across Europe, as well as sanctioned, legal open air dance music events. The resurgence of parties both licensed and unlicensed has proven controversial, with many questioning the safety of such events, even with mask-wearing regulations and other measures in place. For a new feature, DJ Mag spoke to venue owners, promoters and ravers about their hopes and fears regarding illegal raves, and other topics, in the wake of COVID-19. One interviewee, a raver, spoke about the anxiety he feels at the prospect of going back to the rave as the pandemic continues: “It could put some people at risk; it’s still transmittable,” he said. Warm Up promoter Aidan Doherty also touches on this during his interview. “I’ve noticed, sadly, how divided the scene has become in some respects,” he told us. “There’s an almost 50/50 split of people who want to get back to living and doing what they love, and the other half who feel that it’s way too early to even consider this.” He adds, “People are more emotional than ever right now, which is resulting in cases of public disorder, and more and more rebellious behaviour.”