Thousands defy virus rules at French rave

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An illegal New Year's rave in eastern France that lasted more than 24 hours has provoked outrage and resulted in more than 1000 fines being issued by police over lockdown violations.

Meanwhile in Spain, another massive group of ravers had their New Year's Even party broken up by police in a warehouse outside Barcelona.

About 2500 people gathered at an unused air hangar outside Rennes for the French party, having travelled from other parts of France and in some cases from abroad.

Travel is limited within the country and large gatherings are banned as France seeks to limit contacts and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Local police became aware of the illegal gathering late on Thursday as the world celebrated New Year's Eve. But it was not fully broken up until early Saturday, a tweet from the national police force said.

Hundreds of police were on the scene, distributing disinfectant and masks. Three officers were reportedly injured during the operation, as some revellers became violent when police tried to stop the party.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 1200 fines had been issued and initial investigations into the incident were under way.

The sanctions were for attending an illegal party, breaking curfew, not wearing masks and using illegal drugs.

France's coronavirus laws for New Year's Eve had limited gatherings to six adults and made it illegal to leave the house between 10pm and 6am.

Several lawmakers expressed outrage over the illegal rave in light of the country's current battle against the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 65,000 lives in France alone.

Parliamentarian Florian Bachelier said on Twitter that the gathering "shames our country, our health workers, who for months have been on the front line, our dead".

In Spain, ravers had hoped to keep a New Year's Eve party going all the way through the weekend but they had the plug pulled when police descended on Saturday and broke up the party for violating lockdown regulations.

Like most other countries around the world, Spain is trying to limit the spread of the virus, which means cancelling mass gatherings and having people stay home as much as possible.

Instead, video from the party showed crowds dancing beneath a giant skull in a warehouse in the town of Llinars de Valles, many of the dancers unmasked.

Witnesses said there had been up to 1000 people at the party at its height, and about 200 cars parked outside the warehouse.

- with DPA