As tourists window shop in Paris this holiday season, they won’t find any more homeless people asking for change around some of the city’s most popular areas; the French government has issued a series of decrees that ban begging around Paris’ most popular tourist and Christmas shopping spots. According to the Guardian, the Champs Elyssés was the first Paris landmark to fall under the begging ban, with Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores and the area around the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens soon also deemed “no-go zones” for the country’s homeless.
The news outlet writes that interior minister Claude Guéant said the anti-begging decrees were part of a “merciless fight” against “Romanian criminality,” adding that Romanian criminals account for one in six appearances in Paris courts. To target the offenders, 33 Romanian police officers have been contracted to round up beggars around the Champs Elyssés alone.
The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, is unhappy with the new policies. He called the efforts a cheap “PR stunt” that targeted some of the city’s most well-off areas while brushing real problems in other neighborhoods under the rug. “Wanting to fight poverty by repression and fines is shocking at a time when the state isn’t fulfilling its obligations in housing vulnerable young people or providing emergency accommodation,” Delanoe told the news outlet.