A group of rich holidaymakers who flew a private jet from London to the South of France were forced to turn around after being denied entry due to coronavirus restrictions.
Seven men, aged 40-50, and three women aged between 23-25 arrived on a private jet at Marseille-Provence airport last Saturday, with the intention of onward travel to Cannes.
The group had helicopters waiting for them on arrival, which would then fly them to a luxury villa they had rented in the Côte d’Azure.
On arrival, they were refused permission to enter France and were ordered by police to fly back to the UK.
The group reportedly set off back to London four hours later.
A French border police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse: “They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting on the tarmac.
“We notified them they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”
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On landing, the group, made up of several nationalities including Croatian, German, French, Romanian and Ukrainian, reportedly tried to get help from contacts to continue their journey.
The jet had been chartered by a Croatian financier living in London, but details of the incident were only released on Thursday.
A police source told BFMTV: “They had planned to come and have a good time on the Riviera despite the Coronavirus epidemic.
“Everything had been planned by the organiser of the trip – a Croatian national who works in finance and real estate – starting with the London-Marseille trip in a private jet that he had rented on the other side of the Channel.
“He then booked a luxury villa in Cannes. To get there, the man had reserved three helicopters from a company in the Var which provides private connections for privileged customers.”
The helicopter pilots were told to return to their base and were fined for breaking the lockdown rules.
France recently extended its nationwide lockdown beyond the original review date of 15 April, as the rate of confirmed cases and deaths rose sharply this week.
The latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show France has recorded 118,790 cases of COVID-19, with 12,210 deaths nationwide.
On Tuesday, the country confirmed 1,417 deaths in 24 hours - the highest daily fatality increase of any nation in the world since the outbreak began.
All non essential travel in the country has been banned, while anyone entering the country must be able to prove their journey is essential.
And in Paris, the worst affected region, all daytime outdoor exercise has been banned between the hours of 10am and 7pm.
President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation in a live TV broadcast on Monday.