Jail and house arrest – what happens to people who repeatedly break France’s lockdown rules

As France begins its third week under conditions of strict lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, the majority of people are obeying the rules - but what happens to the tiny minority who don't?

Jail and house arrest - what happens to people who repeatedly break France's lockdown rules
Police in Mulhouse, eastern France, check a driver's permission form. Photo: AFP

France's lockdown rules are among the strictest in Europe – people are only allowed out of their homes for absolutely essential trips and everyone needs a signed, dated and timed form every time they step out.

And as the empty streets and clear skies (with no traffic pollution) show, most people are obeying the rules and staying home.

READ ALSO This is how France's new lockdown permission form works

You can be fined or even in extreme cases, jailed for breaking lockdown rules. Photo: AFP

But for those who don't, there are steep fines and a last resort of jail.

The first time you are caught either without a form or outside for a non-essential reason you face a fine of €135 (raised from €38 on the very first day of lockdown).

A second offence within 15 days earns you a €200 fine, but if you breach the rules four or more times during a 30 day period that's when it starts to get serious.

A fourth breach can earn you a fine of €3,750 and a maximum of six months in jail.


Police have issued more than 350,000 fines since the lockdown began on March 17th, but when it comes to actually jailing people it seems the powers are being used a little more sparingly.

At least two people have been jailed, however, a 35-year-old man from Cavaillon, near Marseille, was jailed for two months and fined €800 after being caught outside without a certificate four times in less than a week.

He was also found to be driving an uninsured car and told officers he “didn't agree with the new rules”, according to radio station France Bleu.

A 20-year-old man in Calais was also jailed for two months after he was caught outside without a form a total of eight times.

Paris saw its first lockdown-related court appearance on Tuesday, when a 22-year-old man named in French media as Mimoun K was charged with five separate breaches of the lockdown rules.

He was spared jail, but ordered to complete 105 hours of community service, preferably in the healthcare sector, once the lockdown rules are lifted. If he fails to comply he will be jailed for two months.

Meanwhile in Grenoble a habitual lockdown offender was sentenced to the rather ironic punishment of house arrest.

The 20-year-old man, who had breached the rules on four occasions, was sentenced to two months of house arrest with an electronic tag.

However the judge specified that the house arrest will only begin once the lockdown has ended and everyone else is allowed out again as normal.

“He will be on lockdown in some way after the lockdown ends,” the public prosecutor in Grenoble, Eric Vaillant, told AFP

READ ALSO Can I contest the fine for breaking lockdown rules in France?

Member comments

  1. Odd … I leave the house every day for 1 hour walkies … and grocery store.
    Several Police cars drive by and I have walked past a couple of Policemen.
    Never once been stopped. Anyone else?
    South of France.

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French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Police investigating drug-trafficking in south west France have broken up a counterfeit Bordeaux wine ring following an eight-month investigation.

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Prosecutors said that 100 gendarmes were involved in an operation to arrest up to 20 suspects in seven départements after the fake wine scam was discovered when fake wine labels were discovered by officers investigating a drugs ring. 

During searches, a dozen vehicles and, “a large volume of wine” were seized, they added.

They estimated that several hundred thousand bottles of Spanish wine had been passed off as being from the Médoc wine region of France.

Investigations involving a dedicated police unit revealed “a large-scale fraud organised by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc”, police said, who obtained wine via “Spanish contacts”, bottled it at night and put fake labels on the bottles.

The fake wines were then sold “by the pallet” in several areas via “a network of official and unofficial distributors made up of companies, pensioners and self-employed people”, according to prosecutors. 

Orders amounting to several thousand bottles were sent abroad, with customers believing they were buying Bordeaux chateau wines at bargain prices, prosecutors said, when the bottles really contained “low-end wines …. from remote areas”.

Three suspects, including someone described as the ‘main instigator’ appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday and was charged with a variety of offences linked to fraud.

A source close to the case told AFP that the counterfeiting targeted mid-range Médoc wines, which are easier to counterfeit than the grand crus. 

“If the facts are proven, we hope that the perpetrators will be heavily condemned because these practices harm the image of Bordeaux wines and the image of all those who work well and respect the rules,” reacted the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine contacted by AFP.