“Can my husband spend the weekend with his mistress?”
“A stranger caressed my horse, is there a risk it is contaminated [with coronavirus]?
These are just some of the more absurd questions put to French police since the start of the country’s coronavirus confinement.
They came via a emergency line — accessed by dialing 17 — that police say has seen a surge in calls over the last 10 days.
“People call for everything and nothing because they are bored,” said a spokesman for the French gendarmerie, or military police.
“They just want to talk,” he added.
France has been on a strict lockdown since Tuesday, 17 March, with people only allowed to leave their homes for food shopping, medical visits or exercise, if the latter is in proximity of where they live.
In the city of Dijon, a woman dialed 17 to make an appeal for help.
“After my divorce, I managed to find someone. But he lives 25 kilometers from my home. How can we do it under lockdown?” she asked the agent.
In Picardy, northern France, police stopped a man more than 50 kilometres from home, who told officers he “needed to buy a cassoulet [a meat and white bean casserole]”.
Another left his house to wash the car. “Not really an emergency situation,” said police.
“We have serious calls for information,” said a policeman. “But also so-called abusive calls that border on stupidity.”
‘My neighbour goes out too often’
“We had a pretty libertine couple who wanted to know if the husband could as usual spend the weekend with his mistress!” a Rhône policeman said. But, he added, there are also increasing calls for “domestic violence and neighbourhood problems.”
“We have an influx of calls every day after the eight-o-clock news. For questions that deserve to be asked or … just to know if they can take out their trash while being under lockdown,” another policeman told AFP news agency.
In Gironde, south-west France, the rise in calls to police is strong.
“It is exclusively for information like ‘I took out my dog out this morning, can I do it this evening?’,” said another policeman.
There are also calls telling police about what callers’ neighbours are up to.
“My neighbour is chatting with a lot of people and does not respect confinement” or “there are too many people at my neighbours,” said an officer in Ardeche.