The Associated Press
PARIS -- Champagne, lobster and no masks: That's what a French TV documentary says is on the menu at one of multiple high-end "clandestine restaurants" catering to the Paris elite in violation of nationwide pandemic restrictions.
One organizer claimed that government ministers are among those who attend.
French authorities are investigating the accusations, and government members insisted they're behaving properly.
The Paris prosecutor's office said Monday that an investigation was opened Sunday into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor, and to identify the organizers and participants of the alleged gatherings.
A documentary that aired on the French network M6 over the weekend included a man saying that he had eaten in two or three clandestine restaurants "with a certain number of ministers."
The prosecutor's office said Monday that the investigation is continuing despite reports that the man featured in the documentary had retracted his claim.
Government members denied knowledge of any wrongdoing by their colleagues. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked police to look into the claims.
M6 aired hidden-camera footage that it said came from two private venues in recent weeks, as a new virus surge swept over France and restrictions tightened.
At one venue, white-gloved waiters presented fixed-price menus running from around $190 to $575 per person, with offerings that included Champagne, truffles with foie gras, and lobster in ginger sauce. One host said guests don't wear masks, despite France's indoor mask requirements, because "it's a private club. We want people to feel at home."
French restaurants have been closed since October to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and the country just entered a new partial lockdown in response to intensive care units again filling with covid-19 patients.
Anti-capitalist activists and critics of President Emmanuel Macron have planned a protest today -- advertised on social networks under the banner "Let's Eat the Rich" -- at one of the alleged secret venues.