A young man has been fined for breaking the coronavirus lockdown after authorities found him “exhausted” and “shivering with cold” in The Pyrénées mountains following a mad, cross-country dash for tobacco.
Regional police said the French man was attempting to hike through 25 km of rugged terrain to the Spanish border town of La Jonquera when he fell into a stream and then a bramble bush, leaving him wet, cold and disoriented.
The man initially set off from the southern French city of Perpignan by car on Sunday but was turned back by border officials, the Peloton de gendarmerie de haute montagne (PGHM) des Pyrénées-Orientales said in a statement.
The Pyrénées-Orientales range divides the two countries and it’s common for French smokers to drive to border towns on the Spanish side, where cigarettes are much cheaper.
“This young man, who left Perpignan by car, was turned back at the checkpoints between France and Spain when he wanted to go to La Jonquera,” the PGHM said on its Facebook page.
“He then decided to leave by a hiking trail, hoping to cross the border by the mountain. He then fell into a stream, into brambles, before calling for help.”
The man was eventually found “exhausted, shivering with cold, and lost on the heights of Le Perthus”, a village close to the border with Spain, before being winched to safety by a Civil Security helicopter.
“We remind you once more. STAY AT HOME,” the regional police tweeted, according to Sud Ouest.
The man was fined 135 euros (around $A243) for noncompliance of confinement.
Under lockdown rules in France, people can only leave home for exceptional reasons and with a letter explaining why.
The number of coronavirus cases in France is approaching 100,000 and more than 8000 people have died.
The situation is even more dire in Spain, where the disease has infected almost 132,000 and killed in excess of 12,600.