A series of secret dinner parties, some reportedly attended by government officials, have recently been held in Paris, sparking outrage among French citizens who are being asked to adhere to nationwide lockdown guidelines.
The New York Times, reporting on the phenomenon in an April 6 article, described the discovery of the dinners—with at least one featuring a menu of “champagne, foie gras, and a potato soup glazed with truffles”—through hidden camera footage. The story broke on French TV channel M6 over Easter weekend, to the consternation of people throughout France.
That account noted that “one dinner organizer initially said that several French ministers had attended the illegal parties, before backtracking on his statement.”
It also chronicled the experience of an undercover journalist who attended one of the secret dinner parties and was told by a white-gloved waiter, “We don’t wear a mask here” and “Once you pass through the doors, COVID no longer exists.”
“The report set off outrage in France,” the article added, “with thousands of people demanding explanations on social networks, and political leaders calling for a strict application of lockdown rules.”
The BBC chronicled an account of “caviar, champagne, top chefs’ menus, and no masks allowed” at the exclusive dinners—which will now be investigated by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who depicted them as “totally unacceptable” given the current lockdown measures.
That article added that France initiated new restrictions on April 3, continuing for four weeks to stop the surge of coronavirus cases. It’s the third such lockdown measure for France since the pandemic started, launched over a concern over French hospitals’ capacity to take more intensive care patients.
In an April 2 article on the lockdown about to take effect, the New York Times depicted a mood that “was one of deep fatigue ahead of restrictions that, once again, will severely limit travel across France, confine people’s movements in their communities and shut down schools.”
“There is a bit of weariness,” said one French citizen, Muriel Sallandre, reacting to the news. “The absence of perspective, being dependent on the government’s messages—all that is ultimately a little depressing.”
The article added that just 13% of France’s population has received at least one vaccine shot, compared with 47% in Britain and 30% in the United States.