Disguised as sunflowers, bakers or gorillas, around 6,500 people, almost all young and unmasked, defied health restrictions against COVID-19 in Marseille (south) on Sunday for an unauthorized carnival qualified as an “outlet”, but considered totally “irresponsible” by the police.
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“Young people are fed up with being confined. There are no frail elderly people there, only young people ”, loose Romain, 26, one of the revelers gathered in the center of the second largest city in France for a procession with feathers and sequins and a lot of homemade disguises. , like these cardboard headdresses in the shape of fish.
Starting from the district of La Plaine, the parade slipped in the afternoon in the rue d’Aubagne, still in the center, where residents did not hesitate to put speakers on the windowsills transforming the road into giant dance floor.
“It’s incredible! I was told “there is something not to be missed in Marseille, it is the carnival of the Plain” “, continues Romain, disguised as a baker with a Zinédine Zidane jersey under his apron, but who prefers to keep his mouth shut. Last name.
Beside him pass gorillas, a fake Didier Raoult (the infectious disease specialist stationed in Marseille), most of them without a mask despite the density of the procession.
“I know a lot of friends who go to Madrid where everything is open so it feels good to see that”, considers for his part Quentin, a 26-year-old medical intern who has his mask … of a lion and also prefers not not give his last name.
“It is an undeclared event that we do not consider responsible at all, because barrier gestures are not respected. We carry out checks around the procession, in particular on the wearing of masks and offenders will be fined, ”the police headquarters told AFP at first, estimating the number of participants at 6,500.
Pressure is still increasing on resuscitation services in France with more than 4,400 COVID-19 patients, the highest figure since the end of November, according to figures from Public Health France published on Sunday.
With loud cries of “Come, we’re going down to the Old Port”, the wild carnival riders then descended the Canebière under the sometimes dumbfounded gaze of Sunday walkers. And they burned their traditional floats, some riding on the merry-go-round dancing on the bars of the carousel.
Samuel, in the crowd, is one of the few with a child. “I was a little scared, so I had a double mask”, one against COVID and a Venetian for the carnival.
“It’s very strong, there is a catharsis, everyone is there, finds themselves. A bit like an outlet day when anything goes, ”comments Samuel, who does not wish to disclose his complete identity either.
But, like others, he wonders if this collective breach of the rules might accelerate a tightening of restrictions here.
“In Dunkirk, there have been headlines that people have secretly celebrated carnival, and just behind there were additional restrictions,” he adds.
Around 6.30 p.m. [13h30 au Québec], the police intervened close to the Old Port to disperse the gathering and seven people were arrested, according to the police headquarters.
Marseille is not affected by the new restrictions that came into force on Saturday for at least four weeks in 16 departments, including the nearby Alpes-Maritimes.
But the usual restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19 apply there, including limiting gatherings and mandatory wearing of masks.
Last year the La Plaine carnival was canceled with the first confinement.