Extra police checks as public warned not to travel over Easter weekend

Extra police checks as public warned not to travel over Easter weekend
There will be extra roadblocks this weekend. Photo: AFP
There will be extra police checks and roadblocks today as people in France are warned not to travel over the Easter weekend.

The weekend will see extra police controls on the roads, particularly in areas that have a high number of second homes.

It follows on from a 160,000 person police operation on the roads last weekend – the date when many families had planned to travel after the schools broke up for the Easter holidays.

However strict French lockdown rules ban all non essential travel, with visits to families or Easter trips not deemed essential.

READ ALSO These are the rules of lockdown in France

France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. Photo: AFP

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told LCI radio last week: “Absolutely do not go on holiday during the lockdown period.”

He added that roadblocks would be stepped up on major routes and there would also be extra patrols in train stations to check the permission forms of anyone travelling.

Trains are still running in France but at a drastically reduced capacity – less than 10 percent of normal services.

There will also be checks at airports. Gendarmes in Marseille on Saturday turned back a private jet carrying a group of people from London who were intending to holiday in Cannes.

On board this aircraft, rented by a Croatian man claiming to work in the field of finance and real estate, were seven men between 40 and 50 years old and three women between 23 and 25 years old.

“They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting for them on the tarmac,” the head of the border police service of Marignane (Bouches-du-Rhône) told local media.

“But we notified them that they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”

Anyone wanting to enter French territory during lockdown must have an attestation de déplacement internationale showing that the reason for their travel is essential.

READ ALSO  France tightens rules on entering country with new international travel certificate

Local authorities in areas that have a high level of second homes or tourist rentals have also been asked to carry out checks on people travelling.

“Any abuse will be punished,” warned the minister.

“Lockdown is a constraint for families, I know, but we must hold out.”

Since the start on the lockdown on March 17th, French police have performed 5.8 million stop checks and issued 359,000 fines to people not complying with the rules.

The mayor of Chamonix in the French Alpes has introduced a ban on accommodation rentals of less then 14 days after he says the town saw a surge in arrivals over the last week.

The town is very popular with second home owners and frequently sees its population double over holiday periods.

Fortunately buying chocolate and eating chocolate are still allowed under the rules of lockdown so we can still celebrate Easter next weekend.

READ ALSO How to have a traditional French Easter while in lockdown

But some of France's Easter traditions will be felled by the rules – carnivals and special markets are cancelled and gathering to eat a 15,000 egg omelette is probably out too.

Legend has it that on Good Friday all church bells in France fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope – it is unclear whether the bells will need an attestation for their trip this year.

To find out more about France's Easter rituals, click here.



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