French Police Arrest Briton for Wearing Wrong Type of Mask on Eurostar Train: Report

LONDON - NOVEMBER 14: Passengers walk alongside the first train to leave from the Eurostar platform at St Pancras International station on November 14, 2007 in London, England. The first public train to Paris pulled out of the station at 11.03 as St Pancras International Station began its Eurostar service. …
Cate Gillon/Getty Images

French police boarded a Eurostar train to remove a British traveller at the request of a train manager because he was wearing the wrong kind of mask, according to reports.

The unnamed male passenger in his forties had boarded the London-bound train at Paris’s Gare du Nord on Thursday afternoon, before being taken off the train by around eight officers after the Eurostar made an unscheduled stop in Lille, leaving the businessman stranded in France.

The Mirror reported that within minutes of departure from Paris, the Eurostar manager had allegedly accused him of wearing the wrong kind of mask and of taking it off, however other passengers in Coach 13 had taken their masks off to eat and drink, which is permitted.

It was then alleged the manager had gotten into an argument with the traveller and called another member of staff, saying that she would call the police and have him removed “as quickly as possible”. The businessman then replaced his mask with a blue one that had been given to him by another passenger and apologised.

However, the train made the unscheduled stop at Lille just to remove a passenger. Video obtained by the Liverpool Echo show the officers ordering the businessman, who can be heard pleading his innocence in a calm tone, off the train. French police confirmed the man had been arrested, according to the regional newspaper.

While being led away, he said: “I’ve done nothing wrong and respect all coronavirus rules – this is absolutely outrageous.”

Adding: “I have absolutely no idea what this is all about, except that a Eurostar staff member has taken a very strong dislike to me, and accused me of not wearing the right type of mask.

“Now I’m going to be left alone in France, when all I wanted to do is get home from a work trip. This is very cruel treatment. We should all be getting on, not treating each other like this.”

Eurostar claimed in a statement that the man had “repeatedly” removed his mask on board and in the station despite “gentle” reminders from train staff. Claiming that the traveller had been “aggressive and intimidating towards the onboard team”, the passenger “was asked to leave the train at Lille station and in this situation it is normal procedure for the police to attend and assist”.

One witness speaking to British press rejected claims that he had not been aggressive, saying: “He was actually being very reasonable, and not swearing or acting in any kind of disruptive way at all – everybody else was on his side.”

“The Eurostar woman was telling the police what to do, and insisting that the poor guy should be removed, like he was some kind of criminal,” the 32-year-old woman from London told The Mirror.

France has some of Europe’s strictest coronavirus rules, including the requirement to show a Health Pass — proving vaccination, a negative test result, or recovering from Covid-19 — to enter bars, restaurants, malls, and hospitals for non-urgent care, and for long-distance travel. Masks are also required in all indoor public spaces and on public transport, except where a Health Pass is required unless demanded by local authorities, or in the case of Eurostar if it is a condition of carriage.

For months, French people have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s coronavirus schemes, including the health pass and the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The French government is set to bring forward a bill to extend the Health Pass to July 31st, 2022.

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