Evening Update Thursday 8 April 2021

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said that there are the "first encouraging signals" from the 16 departments, including the Alpes-Maritimes, which were the first to go into lockdown. He said the measures "seem to be working" but didn't give further details. Speaking after the Health Defence Council and Council of Ministers meetings this morning he said that no new measures have been decided upon.

Pressure on French hospitals from the epedemic appears to be intensifying. 3,131 new hospitalisations have been recorded in the past day, bringing the total of people in hospital with Covid-19 to 30,904. Just over 5,700 people are receiving a range of intensive care services compared to just over 5,000 a week ago.

Over ten million people in France have now received their first injection of a vaccine according to Prime Minister Jean Castex. He said that the number had been achieved one week ahead of schedule. The next target, which has previously been announced by the government, is 20 million first doses by mid-May followed by 30 million in mid-June.

The Pefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has issued a decree making the wearing of masks mandatory in a wide range of public spaces. Areas to which the decree applies include pedestrian zones, areas where traffic is limited to 20 km per hour, busy town centres, covered and open air markets, shopping centres and their car parks, public second hand goods markets, urban green spaces and beaches as well as within 50 metres of schools for 15 minutes before and after opening and closing. The decree applies to all those aged 11 and over throughout the department from yesterday, 7 April to 3 May inclusive.

The first drive-in vaccination centre in France is set to open near Montpellier in the Herault department. As from April 13, vaccinations will be administered to people while they are in their car. Facilities are being set up in the parking lot of a clinic in a suburb of the town.

People under the age of 50 who suffer from cystic fibrosis will be able to be vaccinated, according to a letter from health minister Olivier Veran sent to an association which supports people with the condition. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be made available.

The Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, Bernard Gonzalez, has visited the vaccination centre in Roquebrune Cap Martin. The mayors of Roquebrune and Menton as well as local deputy  Alexandra Valetta-Ardisson were also present for the visit. More than 1,000 vaccines have been administered at the center since it opened on April 1, with ten firefighters including three nurses and one doctor being at the centre each day.

In other news, about sixty firefighters and Force06 agents have been fighting a fire that has been burning through an area near Tende since yesterday. Soldiers from the forest fire support group have been helicoptered to the most difficult to access areas in order to treat the outermost areas affected by the fire. Reports say that at least 20 hectares have been destroyed but no homes are threatened.

In Nice, the results of a public consultation on development of the area around Boulevard Gambetta have been announced. 1,266 responses were received to a questionnaire. The municipality will keep the 140 existing trees on the south of the boulevard and plant 100 more trees. The service bus project, which is completely carbon-free on Gambetta and Cessole, will run from Henri Sappia to the Palais des Expositions in 30 minutes. An extension of a park-and-ride as an extension of the current Tzaréwitch park is also planned.

The Principality of Monaco has taken part in a meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. Launched two years ago, the coalition brings together the Finance Ministers of sixty developed and developing states to discuss and collaborate on economic planning  taking into account the challenges of climate change. Collectively the group of countries represents around 39% of greenhouse gas emissions and 63% of global GDP.

 

BUSINESS

Online fashion retailer Asos has reported strong growth for the six months to the end of February. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 275%. Total sales growth was 25%.  The company said that its active customer base increased to 24.9m, up 1.5m over the six months.

UK construction industry output expanded at its fastest pace in March since September 2014 according to a new survey. The IHS Markit survey showed robust growth in all major categories of construction activity and the fastest rise in commercial work for six-and-a-half years. Job creation increased to a 27-month high.

 

SPORT

Motorsports... Nico Hulkenberg has joined Aston Martin as reserve and development driver. The 33-year-old  drove for the team three times last year, when it was known as Racing Point, and from 2012 to 2016, when it was called Force India.

Tennis.... The French Open has been postponed by a week and will now take place from 30 May to 13 June with qualifying the previous week. The French Tennis Federation said postponing the event was the best solution as it "will give the health situation more time to improve" and should optimise the chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros.

Football.. There are more Europa League matches this evening with Arsenal playing Slavia Prague, Granada against Manchester United, Ajax play Roma and Dinamo Zabreb take on Villareal.

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