Yesterday we had a report from Italian surfer Robert D'Amico who, like all Italians, has been in a Covid-19 lockdown for over a week. Last night France introduced the same type of restrictions, joining Portugal and Spain. That means that surfing is effectively banned in those countries.
The French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner announced that, "It will be up to everyone to fill out a form to specify the nature of any trip, their destination and their reasons." Those who circulate must be able to justify their movement or face the risk of being fined from 38 to 135 euros.
He added that brief trips near home will also be tolerated and said that the public can practice physical activity or take out their dogs, but everyone will have to do it sparingly. So any surfers seeing a potential loophole in that sentence are probably misguided.
"I think if you can walk to the beach, it will be hard for police to tell the difference between jogging, walking the dog or going surfing," says Dave Mailman, an American expat who has lived in Hossegor for over 25 years. "But if the police stop you in your car with wet hair and your board on the roof, in my opinion, it's a direct fine. Also, if unfortunately you have any accident, I think the hospital may make you wait a very long time in your wetsuit in the emergency room before taking care of you!"
The same measures have been taken in Spain and Portugal. Kepa Acero, the noted Basque surf explorer, recently posted on Instagram a police car monitoring his local beach looking for anyone breaking the new quarantine restrictions. Like D'Amico, he is also strongly advocating the campaign to #StayAtHome.
Down in Portugal, it's a similar story as the general public and surfers come to grips with the new world order. "Tough times over here, everyone locked themselves at home, and no one is really leaving their houses," said Lisbon-based big-wave surfer Nic Von Rupp. "Beaches are closed, and they say for activities as well. I haven't seen the ocean so I don't know if it's true or not. But I'm respecting the procedure."
Although the forecast looks good for the next week at least, it seems most of Europe's best waves will largely go unridden. We will have more updates as they come to hand.