French minister mocked for canal jog out of step with lockdown rules

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FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks during a press conference in Paris
FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks during a press conference in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin came under fire in the press and on social media for apparently breaking government lockdown rules that people can only go out to take exercise within a kilometre of their homes.

French daily La Voix du Nord and several other media reported that Darmanin went for a jog with his bodyguards on Sunday along the Roubaix canal well over a kilometre away from his home in Tourcoing in northern France.

People can be fined 135 euros for breaking the rule.

"Double standards?" La Voix du Nord wrote.

"Prohibitions are for paupers and miserable mortals, the Olympians above us are exempt," one Twitter user wrote. "The law does not apply to the marquis," another tweeted.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that if Darmanin had "adapted" the rule, it had been for security reasons.

"The interior minister, like all ministers, of course respects the rules. But security services often ask to adapt those rules," he said.

An interior ministry spokesperson declined to comment but referred to an interior ministry security service source quoted in La Voix du Nord, who said that jogging in the city centre would expose the minister to security risks and that the secluded canal area was safer.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Nick Macfie)