'Freedom, freedom': French Riviera restaurant defies COVID shutdown

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NICE, France (Reuters) – A restaurant in the French Riviera city of Nice opened its doors to diners on Wednesday in defiance of nationwide COVID-19 rules, in a sign of the growing frustration at the curbs on public life which President Emmanuel Macron may tighten in the days ahead.

Patrons crammed inside the Poppies restaurant where owner Christophe Wilson served plates of gnocchi and beef ragout.

Police entered the restaurant and summoned Wilson to the police station but did not shut down the lunch service or kick out his customers.

Chants of “Freedom, freedom” reverberated around the covered terrace after the officers left.

Restaurants and bars have been closed across France since October. Paris residents say there have been similar acts of dissent in the capital.

Macron is under pressure from medics and epidemiologists to impose a third nationwide lockdown before the contagious novel coronavirus variant first detected in Britain becomes prevalent, as the number of COVID-19 related hospitalisations and deaths rise.

An opinion poll on Wednesday showed that a majority of French citizens oppose a strict lockdown similar to last spring, when schools closed and people could only leave their homes under special circumstances.

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