April 10, 2020 — A Croatian businessman wanted to treat friends to a holiday in France’s Côte d’Azur, chartering a private jet from London last Saturday then pulling the tried and true practice of “calling connections” to get around a ban on travel. Pandemics, travel restrictions and social distancing rules be damned. French police greeted the group with a resounding “non”, cut short their holiday and sent the group back to the United Kingdom, according to the Guardian.
The nixed vacation comes just as Croatia’s own restrictions on movement and social isolation policy incrementally unravel. Various reports claim cafes and other shops operate around the country in clandestine fashion, religious ceremonies are green-lit despite epidemiological dangers, and even the bureaucracy meant to restrict movement creates loopholes for itself.
Seven men, ages 40-50, and three women, ages 23-25, took the charter flight to Marseille-Provence airport, with three helicopters waiting to fly them to a luxury villa in Cannes. A Croatian businessman who works in finance and real estate chartered the flight, the paper reported. The group was made up of several nationalities, including German, Romanian and French.
Authorities forbade the plane’s arrival while it was still in the sky, but the pilot landed anyway. The group then took nearly four hours to leave.
“They tried to make use of their connections and made a few phone calls,” a source in the police told BFMTV.
“They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting on the tarmac,” a border police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse. “We notified them they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”
The helicopters were sent away and fined for ignoring lockdown rules, which banned all non-essential travel since March 17.
The Croatian businessman might have taken a cue from his homeland, where good figures have created a sense of security and an increasingly-lax attitude after weeks of successfully “flattening the curve” through strict isolation measures and limits on travel.
The decision to re-open Zagreb’s open-air market in Dolac drew crowds for the first time since an earthquake sent residents rushing out onto the streets. The government-sanctioned travel system, which uses “e-passes” to allow citizens to travel across municipal borders has become a leaky dam. And authorities let a Catholic Church tradition be an exception to requests everyone stay at home despite the Easter holiday weekend.