Having an affair, buying lemons and walking a snake: France's weirdest excuses for breaking lockdown

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Having an affair, buying lemons and walking a snake: France's weirdest excuses for breaking lockdown
Police in France have handed out aver 900,000 fines since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: AFP

Seeing a mistress, picking flowers or walking a pet snake. Some excuses presented to police in France during the nationwide lockdown were more memorable than others.


France has been on nationwide, strict lockdown since March 17th. 

To leave home, people must have a signed and dated form stating their reason for being outside as well as the time they left their house.

They can be fined €135 if they have forgotten the form, if they have been out too long, or if a police officer deems their stated errand as a bad excuse for being out and about.

Legitimate reasons for leaving the house are grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, doctor's appointments (if urgent), legal obligations, short individual exercise, walking the dog and some other listed reasons that you can find here.


But not everyone has stuck to the official list.

Here are some of the most peculiar excuses presented to police officers during controls.

1. Not knowing about the lockdown
In Creuse, a man told police "I have never heard about the lockdown."
While this excuse could perhaps have been accepted in the early days, this happened 10 days after its entering into effect, according to France Bleu.

2. Cheating

"I was sick of my wife, I absolutely needed to see my mistress," one man told police in Haut-Vienne, a region a little southeast of Paris, according to France Bleu.

While the article did not state whether the police decided to fine the man, we can confirm that "cheating" does not feature on the official list of legitimate reasons for leaving home. (And is also naughty, don't do it).

3. Walking your snake

One man in Marseille told officers that his pet - a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck - "needed to get some fresh air," according to Le Point.

4. Picking flowers

"We pick daffodils, it's the season. Afterwards there won't be any left," said a couple in Creuse, midwest France, when they were stopped by police. 

The police chief in Creuse told France Bleu that the excuse was "not admissible."


5. Your wife is drunk

One poor chap in Picardie told officers he was out to escape his own wife.
"My wife is completely drunk, I need some fresh air," he told the police. The article does not say if he was fined or not.

6. Grocery shopping.. far from home or at midnight

Grocery shopping is of course listed as an essential errand on the lockdown permission slip. People have been allowed to drive to the store if they wish to, in the hope that people would then do more groceries at the same time, which would limit the number of necessary outings per person.
But one man tried to explain police that he was "buying a carton milk for a friend" as he was driving 35 km from his home, according to Midi Libre.
Another told officers earnestly that he was doing "essential grocery shopping," but the problem was that it was midnight.
A third did "essential grocery shopping" 80km from his home addres.
None of the men got their excuses accepted by the officers.

7. Getting lemons for the apéritif

Then there's the endless debate about what is "essential" grocery shopping and not. One woman was stopped for having bought a six-pack of coca cola, claiming it to be essential shopping to her. 

Another man was stopped when getting three lemons.

"I need them for an apéritif," he told the officers. Despite having filled out the form correctly, the man was fined, according to France Bleu.

Apéro is not essential? Whatever next.

8. Being a good driver

“I am a good driver, I don’t understand why you’re stopping me,” one motorcyclist told officers. He was stopped in Creuse, which seems to have either particularly disobedient residents or very strict police (or both).

While driving for essential errands is not banned during the lockdown, people are not allowed to go driving just for the simple pleasure of it. That goes for all drivers, no matter how accomplished they are.

9. Selling drugs

Key workers are exempt from the lockdown, but drug dealers are not among the professions listed as "essential" for the wellbeing of France. In fact, drug sales have largely decreased since the beginning of the lockdown.

One dealer in Limoges however told officers that "I need to sell my dope if I want to survive." 

10. Buying sunscreen

One woman was fined after saying she was "buying sunscreen" 60km from her home address. 
Going that far for a bottle of sunscreen is perhaps stretching the rules a bit too far in a time when everyone has been told to strictly limit their outings to what is absolutely essential (sunbathing is not essential, unfortunately).
11. To exercise.. while wearing leather moccassins
According to Le Point, one man was one man in Bordeaux was fined for wearing leather moccasins while out "to exercise".
There have actually been several incidents of people having ticked the physical exercise box on their lockdown permission slip, only to have police officers telling them they "don't look sporty enough".


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