French homeless organisations on Friday accused police of issuing fines to rough sleepers for failing to comply with self-isolation requirements under the strict social lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Without providing numbers, they said fines have been issued to homeless people in the French capital Paris, in Lyon in the east and Bayonne in the southwest.
“We request that clear instructions be given… so that these sanctions cease immediately,” Florent Gueguen, head of the FAS federation of homeless organisations told AFP.
French society has been in lockdown since midday Tuesday, with excursions from the home limited to buying food, visiting the doctor, walking the dog or going for a solitary jog.
Workers are only allowed to go to the office if their employer does not provide an option for working from home.
People who venture outside need to carry a certificate, which can be printed from the government website, to declare the reason for their trip, and risk a 135-euro ($145) fine if they cannot show one.
French authorities say several dozen homeless people have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Those who cannot be accommodated in homeless shelters and do not need hospitalisation, will be taken to new, dedicated centres in the coming days.
The government is also requisitioning hotel rooms to house the homeless during this period.