France confinement: Are DIY goods ‘necessary items’?

Since confinement was imposed in France on March 17, and all “non-essential” shops were closed, there have been further questions about what police consider “essential”. We answer a question on DIY goods.

19 April 2020
Purchases of DIY goods from stores that are still open are considered permissible under confinement rules
By Connexion journalist

Under the rules of confinement, police and gendarmerie have the power to stop and question people who are outside their homes, and are able to issue fines if they believe someone to be in breach of the rules.

Fines are now at €135 per first infraction, rising to €200 for a second infraction within 15 days, rising to €450 if it is not paid on time. If four breaches are recorded in a 30-day period, the punishment can rise to a fine of €3,750 and six months in prison.

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Yet, some have asked questions about specific cases, such as which products can be deemed “essential”, and whether police have the right to search your bags or vehicle to check.


DIY and hardware stores: Essential products?

French news source BMFTV answered a viewer question on DIY products this week.

The question asked: “If I go to a DIY store, how can I be sure that the police will consider this to be a ‘necessary purchase’?”

The response echoed a statement made earlier in April by the Police Nationale, which had already said that police should not check your purchases for specific items, as the government has already decreed which shops are allowed to remain open, and which are not.

So, it is not for the police to make further subjective judgements.

BMFTV said: “If the shop is open, everything that is able to be bought in the shop will be considered as - if not absolutely ‘first necessity / essential’ - as items that will not be punished by a fine. So there is nothing to worry about when it comes to this issue.”

Some DIY shops and hardware stores - such as Castorama and Leroy Merlin - have even set up a drive-through service where you can pick up goods that were ordered online, without any extra human interaction.

Yet, police are allowed to apprehend people who appear to be deliberately flouting the rules, such as going out to shop repeatedly within the same day.

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