French Prime Minister Jean Castex held a press conference this morning to provide additional detail about coronavirus measures announced by President Macron on Tuesday evening. The Prime Minister said it will be imperative to limit the number of people allowed to gather together at Christmas and the New Year and recommendations on specific numbers would be made by the government nearer the time.
As regards the re-opening of shops as from this Saturday, the Minister for Small and Medium Sized Businesses, Alain Griset, gave details of a new health protocol to be put in place. He said that an area of eight square metres per customer must be allowed. Shops which have over 400 square metres of space will be required to have a system in place to ensure compliance with the eight square metre rule. He said that opening would be allowed until 9pm.
The Prime Minister said that places of worship can reopen with a maximum of 30 people present, a figure which may be increased from 15 December depending on the progression of the pandemic.
He said that individual outdoor sports will be able to resume as from this Saturday, subject to a limit of three hours and within 20km of home.
Extracurricular activities for children will be able to resume from 15 December in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Driving schools will also be permitted to reopen subject to health protocols.
President Macron had said in his address that ski resorts wouldn't be able to reopen for Christmas. Jean Castex clarified that it will be possible to go to ski resorts "to enjoy the clean air" but public facilities and ski lifts must remain closed.
Museums, theatres and cinemas will be able to reopen on 15 December subject to health protocols but must close at 9pm. A tolerance will be allowed for people to return home from those venues after events which end at 9pm.
Jean Castex also announced a variety of financial measures to help businesses and individuals. These included the creation of 20,000 jobs for students and 900 euros per month for precarious, intermittent and seasonal workers in certain circumstances.
Following the Prime Minister's remarks about ski stations this morning, the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has suggested a health protocol which he says would allow facilities at ski stations in the Alpes Maritimes to reopen. The proposals include a respect for barrier gestures, only one seat out of two being occupied on ski lifts and no use of lifts with enclosed cabins. He added that the Metropole is asking the government to adapt the sanitary measures for ski stations so that access would be reserved for residents and property owners in the Alpes Maritimes, with attendance being limited to 50%, with reservations being made online and click and collect for restaurants. The mayor said that he is asking Jean Castex and the Alpes Maritime Prefect to consider the proposals. He said that he didn't want the region's ski stations to "endure the double penalty" between "the decisions of the French government" and Storm Alex and its "material, human and economic consequences".
Demonstrators from local restaurants, night clubs and sports halls staged a protest in Marseille this afternoon. The protests follow the decision announced by President Macron on Tuesday that businesses in the sector won't be allowed to reopen before January at the earliest. Reports this evening said that several thousand people had taken part in the protests.
The confidence of French consumers has hit its lowest level in two years according to a new survey by government statistics agency INSEE. Their consumer confidence index recorded a figure of 90, down from 94 in the last survey.
A national tribute has been paid today to former World War II French resistance member Daniel Cordier who died recently at the age of 100. A ceremony was held at Les Invalides in Paris this afternoon after which President Macron made an address. The president had previously said that M. Cordier's life had been driven by "an incredible taste for freedom, an impetuous bravery, and insatiable curiosity and, above all, an immense love for France".
The wreckage of a plane which crashed into the sea off Hyeres sixty years ago has been located by a ship carrying out underwater scientific work. The Aquilon plane crashed into the sea while making its approach to Hyeres airport in June 1960. Two people lost their lives in the accident.
UK car production fell by 18.2% in October. Industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that subdued demand from EU and US markets resulted in a decline in exports of 19.1% and output for UK buyers also fell. The automotive sector is calling for an urgent Brexit agreement with details shared swiftly and adequate time to implement the deal to help companies prepare.
The Chief Executive of Eurostar has written to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak requesting financial help. Passanger numbers on the service have fallen by 95% since March and the company said that recent financial assistance for UK airports is putting it at a disadvantage compared to its airline competitiors.
Australian telecoms company Telstra faces a possible 50 million Australian Dollar fine after selling mobile contracts to vulnerable indigenous customers. The contracts were signed between 2016 and 2018 at licensed Telstra stores in Alice Springs, Darwin, Adelaide, and Broome. The customers paid for contracts they could neither understand nor afford. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said Telstra had agreed to consent to orders that would support a 50 million Australian Dollar penalty, but the matter must first go before a Federal court.
Cricket.... Six members of the Pakistan team have tested positive for Covid-19 while on tour in New Zealand. New Zealand's cricket authorities said two of the six cases were what it called "historical" and the other four were new. All six people have gone into quarantine and the team's exemption from social-distancing rules for training has been suspended.
Rugby Union... The England starting line up for the match against Wales on Saturday has been announced. George Ford is included, with Owen Farrell switching to inside-centre and Henry Slade making up the midfield. The starting forward pack is unchanged from the game against Ireland.
Meanwhile, Billy Burns will make his first start for Ireland in the match against Georgia on Sunday. He's one of five Ulster players named in the starting fifteen.
Football....Three days of national mourning have begun in Argentina after the death of Diego Maradona at the age of 60 yesterday. Thousands of fans have been filing past his coffin at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.
There are lots of ties in the Europa League tonight including Spurs against Ludogorets Razgrad in Group J, Molde against Arsenal in Group B and Sporting Braga against Leicester in Group G. Sparta Prague play Celtic in Group H, it's Rangers against Benfica in Group D and Nice play Slavia Prague in Group C.