‘Illness-phobic’ billionaire Petra Ecclestone has defended travelling to seven countries in lockdown to ‘escape coronavirus’, claiming that ‘others would if they could’.
The heiress, 32, has travelled with her fiancé Sam Palmer, 37, and four children from London to Croatia to LA, then Switzerland, Monaco and France, then back to LA and Monaco, then The Maldives and back to Monaco since March last year.
Talking to the Times’ T2, Petra asserted she hasn’t broken rules and said: ‘We’re currently in Monaco. For now. Not sure where we’ll be next week . . . We’re very Covid-conscious. We’ve flown completely around the world to try and miss it. What I think we’ve realised now is you can’t run from coronavirus.’
The couple returned to London from their home in LA just as the pandemic hit last year and they hardly left the house at this point.
‘We’ve flown around the world to try to escape coronavirus’: ‘Illness-phobic’ billionaire Petra Ecclestone has defended travelling to seven countries in lockdown and asserted she hasn’t broken rules and claims ‘others would if they could’ (pictured in Croatia last summer)
They then flew to Croatia to stay on her Formula One boss dad Bernie’s yacht for one month in the summer.
But because her sister Tamara, 36, and her father Bernie, 90, were both in Switzerland with their families, they decided to go there so their children could partake in outdoor activities instead of being cooped up at home.
As the virus grew, the family travelled to Monaco after two months because ‘it has done very well for coronavirus,’ Sam noted.
Getting away from it all: Sam shared this picture of himself with Petra and their four children (who they doesn’t picture publicly) on their holiday in the Maldives in January
Envious: The couple haven’t been afraid to share pictures from the Waldorf Astoria on their luxury trip, while Brits are forced to stay at home – but they haven’t broken the rules
Despite schools being open there, the couple have been home-schooling their children but their nanny-housekeeper contracted coronavirus and so they’ve been doing everything themselves.
Acknowledging how difficult single mothers would be finding this situation, homeschooling in an apartment, Sam said, ‘we can’t really complain.’
Petra regards herself as being illness-phobic due to a near-death experience with meningitis when she was aged 14.
Goodbye for now: Back in June, sister Tamara revealed she’s been crying non-stop after saying goodbye to her sister Petra in Croatia (pictured with daughter Sophia, six)
‘Missing my best friend’: Tamara wrote: ‘So hard to say goodbye it’s always hard but this time especially so with the uncertainty of not knowing when we will see each other next’
Farewell for now: The family had been staying on Bernie’s £28million yacht, but Petra, her fiancé Sam and her children boarded a private jet to fly back to LA afterwards
Coming home: The recruitment consultant wrote: ‘After 4 months a global pandemic, a new baby and 2 different countries…. We are finally on our way home..’
She noted: ‘I’m a huge hypochondriac. I hate germs and anything that I’m not in 100 per cent control over gives me anxiety. So this whole virus . . . it scares me and it isn’t great for my anxiety. ‘
Petra’s father Bernie is worth $3.2billion and Petra famously sold her LA home for £97 million in 2019 – Essex born Sam who was new to this lifestyle noticed ways to cut costs and launched a staffing agency to the super-rich as a result.
While the couple, who have been together since 2017, know they get to live a privileged lifestyle, they are unapologetic for the benefits this has given them, particularly in lockdown.
Seeing the sights: The family travelled to London from LA when the pandemic started taking hold in April
Trip of a lifetime: Sam had been littering his Instagram with snaps from their time away in Croatia
Making memories: Petra and Sam appeared to have the time of their lives with the children
Reunited: In August, the family joined up with sister Tamara and father Bernie in G’Staad, Switzerland so they could give their children more of an outdoors lifestyle
A lunch in France: The couple popped to Paris for a bite to eat at La Petite Maison in October
Making it work: While many Brits were kept apart from their families, Christmas was certainly not cancelled for this family in Monaco
WHAT WAS THE COVID SITUATION IN THE COUNTRIES THEY VISITED?
The capital was at the epicentre of Britain’s first wave in April, recording a peak of 208 Covid deaths a day. Fatalities did not rise above this level during the second wave.
The Department of Health also published case figures for this time, but these are considered to be a significant underestimation because the UK’s testing scheme wasn’t working until well into June.
The Eastern European country was suffering less than one death from the virus a day during this month, figures compiled by Our World in Data show.
When they touched down in the American state it was registering around 85 Covid deaths a day, which continued to rise throughout the month to 125 by the start of August.
The state’s infection rate was at about 15 cases per 100,000 people a day, rising to 20 by the next month.
Gstaad, Switzerland, August
When they stayed here Switzerland was beginning to see an uptick in coronavirus cases, which rose to an average of 300 a day nationwide by the end of the month. But this was well below the peak in November when the country was registering more than 8,000 cases.
Monaco, September and October
The 202-hectare country on the edge of France recorded less than 10 cases of the virus a day until October 23, when 14 were detected.
Covid-19 cases began to take off in France during their visit as the winter months approached.
The number registered daily almost quadrupled during October, rising from 110,665 a week on October 5 to 382,553 a week on November 2.
Los Angeles, December
The 4million-strong city began to feel the full force of the second wave over Christmas.
Official data from the LA county health authority reveals Covid-19 cases doubled in this month – from 6,500 to 13,071 cases a day on average.
Covid deaths also quadrupled from 39 to 186 fatalities a day on average.
As the rest of Europe battled the pandemic with lockdowns and ordering its citizens to stay home, Monaco was still recording less than 15 cases a day according to Our World in Data.
The Maldives, January
Coronavirus cases in the archipelago continued to rise in January, jumping four-fold from 31.6 to 121.1 a day on average by the end of the month, figures from Our World in Data show.
Average deaths from the virus, however, remained below one a day.
The 202-hectare country was recording more than a hundred cases a day by February.
He added: ‘A lot of people get blinded by the wealth. We are parents with four children. I think people think that we sit around eating lobster and bathing in champagne. It couldn’t be further from the truth and that’s really why we did this [P.S Say Cheese] podcast, to show we are very normal people.’
The couple also touch upon their holiday last month in the Maldives and were asked if they are worried about being judged in these coronavirus times as envious Brits back home remain banned for non-essential travel.
Nothing that, ‘we’re living in a country where you’re able to travel’, Sam asserted that there is always going to be a wealth divide.
He said: ‘Precoronavirus there were people starving in the world. Everyone was still posting pictures of food… It’s like the world has to pretend there isn’t wealth any more. There’s still the same problems systematically. And I think probably a lot of it they’ve turned on to other people.’
And while Petra, who was previously married to bullion dealer James Stunt from 2011-2017, acknowledges that the fact she gets to travel is ‘unfair’ but said that ‘if others had the opportunity, they’d go on holiday too.’
Her sister Tamara was criticised for living in up in G’Staad and then travelling to Dubai, but she maintains she travelled from Switzerland and not the UK, not breaking regulations.
Tamara’s husband Jay revealed to MailOnline that the family have no plans to return to London following the dramatic security lapse that led to a multi-million pound jewel heist at her West London home in December 2019.
Jurors at a recent trial related to the burglary heard the home was so huge that security staff did not notice the thieves breaking in through the back garden or plundering several rooms of the house during the hour-long raid.
One guard was not on duty at the property in exclusive Kensington because he had gone to Tesco to buy groceries including vegetables for a roast dinner, the court was told.
Speaking from Dubai about their plans, Jay told MailOnline: ‘We do not intend to return to the UK from Dubai.
‘There are a host of reasons why we are not going back to London any time soon and security is one of them.
‘The truth is we are playing it month by month and watching how the situation develops.’
Meanwhile, Jay denied he and Tamara had broken travel restrictions as he explained:
‘We have not broken the lockdown rules to come Dubai, that is not what we have done.
‘At the beginning of the outbreak last year we really stuck to the rules.
‘From March to May we locked down and did not leave the house [in London].
‘We went to Croatia in [June] the summer, but that was only after the rules changed and everyone was allowed to travel.
‘From there we went to Switzerland and we stayed there until Christmas when we came here to Dubai.
‘There are a host of reasons why are not planning to return to London any time soon.
‘Security is one of them but certainly not the only reason.
‘There is not a strict plan about when we are going to return to the UK or to Switzerland. Switzerland is in lockdown as well.
‘Therefore, my gallery is closed and I can do any work I need to do remotely.
‘We are here on an extended holiday while all this stuff is going on.’
Find out more about the podcast @pssaycheese on Instagram. To donate to Petra’s Place go to petrasplace.co.uk
With his girls: Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone with daughters Petra and Tamara (pictured in 2017)
All together: Sister Tamara is currently in Dubai with her family including daughter Sophia, six, and husband Jay Rutland, 39 – they travelled there from G’Staad in Switzerland