'Bored' Man During Coronavirus Lockdown in France Takes Plane Ride to 'Get Some Fresh Air,' is Fined by Police

A man was fined 135 euros ($145) in France last week after taking off in a small airplane during the nationwide travel lockdown that is in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The pilot, who has not been named, told officials he became "bored" during the confinement period and had "wanted to get some fresh air," France Info reported (via Agence France-Presse). He took off from an airfield in Bains-sur-Oust in the Ille-et-Vilaine region of Brittany last Friday afternoon.

The man, in his 40s, is a member of the Bains-sur-Oust flying club and was spotted on radar while using a single-engine two-seater plane, Le Télégramme reported.

He was instructed by the control tower to land the small craft and touched down at about 5 p.m. after being in the air for up to 45 minutes. Authorities were already assembled.

"A patrol was engaged on the aerodrome and waited for the landing" local police said, Europe1 reported. "The person, originally from the Redon region, admitted that he was bored during the confinement and wanted to get some fresh air."

La Provence reported the pilot was advised to adhere to government measures enacted on March 16, which restricted citizen movement to help contain the novel coronavirus. The financial penalty was the fixed amount assigned for the "violation of the prohibitions on moving outside the home."

The incident was first reported by Ouest-France.

There have been over 16,900 positive COVID-19 infections in France at the time of writing. Tracking data suggests that there have been at least 676 deaths, while over 2,200 are believed to have made a recovery. On a global scale, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 353,000 people.

Earlier this month, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, said confinement measures would be taking place from March 17 and were expected to last for an initial period of two weeks.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said travel would only be allowed from home to work, to shop for essentials, to visit hospitals, for exercise and to care for children or vulnerable people. "Any violation of these rules will be penalized," the government department warned on its website.

Small plane
File photo: Small airplane taking off from runway. A man was fined 135 euros ($145) in France last week after taking off in a small airplane during the nationwide travel restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. iStock

The moves came after the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe had become the "epicenter" of the disease, which first surfaced in China last December.

Some citizens have tried to skirt the containment measures, which have been designed to aid social distancing and to stop the virus from spreading in crowds of people. In Spain, one man was sent home by police after leaving while dressed in a T. Rex outfit. Another man was caught trying to exploit a loophole that allows the walking of pets by taking to the street with a toy dog attached to a leash.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.