France enters third lockdown - France is set to begin its third lockdown from Saturday 3rd April. French President Emmanuel Macron has opted to extend restrictions already in place in 19 departments of France to the whole of the country in the fight against the current third wave of Covid. The Head of State has said that “if the French are able to make extra efforts during the month of April then mid-May could see the reopening of some cultural establishments as well as the terraces of bars and restaurants”.
Closure of schools - Macron announced the closure of schools from tomorrow Friday 2nd April with nursery and primary schools closed for three weeks until April 26th and the closure of college and lycées for four weeks until May 3rd. For employees Macron insisted that “working from home is a must when possible”.
Vaccination - The President reiterated that everyone in France over the age of 18 will be able to receive a vaccine "by the end of the summer" if they wish. From April 16th appointments will be opened for those aged 60 to 75. The first appointments for those aged between 50 and 60 will be opened on 15th May and for those under 50 from mid-June.
Prime Minister to address French parliament today - Prime Minister Jean Castex is scheduled to make an address to the French parliament on the health situation today. The national assembly and senate will then hold a debate and a vote on health measures. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal stated that the government will make a decision on whether to postpone local elections in June after consulting political parties.
Fines and travel allowed over Easter weekend - More than 480,000 fines related to travel have been issued by police in France since mid-December. Since December 15th and the end of the second lockdown 500,000 fines have been handed out with the majority, 480,664 relating to "travel offenses".
Over the Easter weekend Emmanuel Macron has announced that it will be possible to change region, during the day, to spend the next few weeks in a place of your choice”. A tolerance which the Ministry of Interior has said "will stop on Monday evening". From which point travel will be limited everywhere in France to a radius of 10km from your home for daily outings, without certificate and for trips exceeding 10 kilometers, a certificate will be required.
On the other hand, the curfew must continue to be respected throughout France from 7pm to 6am as well as the ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 6 people and illegal parties indoors.
New variant - Meanwhile Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, has said that a new variant has been discovered. The “Henri-Mondor” variant, named after the hospital in the Paris area where it was discovered, was identified within a cluster made up of three hospital professionals and the spouse of one of the three. Inserm said the variant "is now actively circulating in France". In the four weeks which followed its discovery, the new variant was found in 29 patients of various geographical origins in the Île-de-France, South-East and South-West of France. New studies will be necessary to know if the variant is more, as much, or less contagious than the other known variants and if vaccines and antiviral treatments are effective.
In other news
French farmer has case dismissed - High court judges have dismissed the case against a farmer who transported nearly 200 migrants from Italy to his home in the Alpes-Maritimes region. 41-year-old Cédric Herrou, had been prosecuted for bringing migrants over the border in 2016 and organising a reception camp on his land near Breil-sur-Roya. He was initially fined, but the punishment was upgraded in 2017 to four months in jail.
Strike action - Public transport is expected to be disrupted in the region tomorrow Friday 2nd April due to nationwide strike action. There will be no trams operating in Nice and many bus routes of the Lignes d’Azur network will be disrupted. Some bus services in Antibes and Sophia Antipolis are also expected to be affected.
Ready for takeoff? - One way to avoid lockdown would be to go into space? As the recruitment campaign for European astronauts has opened this week. Candidates have until May 28th to submit their application online, before the selection procedure begins which will end in October 2022 with the hiring of four to six future astronauts. Applicants must have a master's degree in a scientific field, or a medical degree, and three years of professional experience. The age limit is 50. Fluent English is required and fluency in a second language is an asset. A medical certificate similar to that required of a professional pilot must also be provided. The previous search for astronauts, in 2008, had seen seven lucky winners, including Thomas Pesquet.
President Biden has called for trillions of dollars in spending aimed at re-igniting America’s economic growth by upgrading infrastructure and tackling climate change. Mr Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal would direct billions into initiatives such as charging stations for electric vehicles and eliminating lead water pipes. The mass spending plan would be partially offset by raising taxes on businesses. Mr Biden‘s plans have already attracted fierce opposition. Republicans have called the plan a recipe for “stagnation and decline” while business lobby groups say they support the investments but would oppose tax increases. The programme which will need to be approved by Congress is likely to face a tough fight if it’s to become law. Mr Biden wants to see the corporate tax rate increase from 21% to 28%. He acknowledged that his plans are unpopular in some sections of American society and said that he was open to other ideas when it came to paying for the spending.
Shares in Deliveroo have plunged on their stock market debut after a number of major UK investors expressed concerns about the firm’s employment model. Shares in the food delivery business had been offered to investors at 390p each but closed 40% lower at 284p having fallen by 30% initially. In recent weeks a number of high-profile fund managers have said they would not be buying the shares. The delivery firm’s share sale in London is the biggest stock market launch for a decade and the shortfall on its first day of trading is a blow to the U.K.’s ambitions to persuade more big tech companies to list in Britain. Questions remain as to whether the firm might have to improve pay and conditions for its delivery drivers following Uber’s defeat in the Supreme Court. Deliveroo said it had chosen to “price responsibly” and sell its shares at the bottom of the planned price range due to volatile market conditions.
Many exporters from the UK to the EU are still struggling with the added cost and complexity of shipping goods, three months after the new post Brexit border procedures kicks in. An initial 41% plunge in goods going to the EU in January was described by the British government as “teething problems” which it said were hard to separate from the impact of Covid related disruption. The government insists that overall freight volumes between the UK and the EU have been back to normal levels since the start of February but haulage groups say that recent figures on freight volumes tally the number of vehicles and ferry movements rather than the value of the actual goods traded between the EU and the UK. Many businesses say that the new red tape makes trading with Europe unsustainable and there has been chaos and confusion at customs along with additional freight costs and extra charges for customers in the form of duties and taxes. Some firms are now setting up warehouses in Europe to better cater for the needs of their customers in the EU.
Football – There were several European World Cup qualifiers last night with England needing a late Harry Maguire goal to secure a 2-1 win over Poland. Scotland beat the Faroe Islands 4-0 while Northern Ireland and Bulgaria drew nil nil. France were one nil winners in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The shock of the night came as Germany were beaten 2-1 at home by North Macedonia.
Cricket - Sri Lanka have been fighting back in the second Test match against West Indies at North Sound. At stumps on day three the tourists had reached 250–8 in their first innings still trailing West Indies by 104 runs. Play resumes this afternoon.
Rugby Union – The South African Rugby Union says proposals for the return of fans are being taken to the country’s government before the British and Irish Lions tour. The country’s rugby chief Mark Alexander said there is no reason to doubt that the tour will take place. In March a plan to play matches in Britain and Ireland was rejected by the organisers. The Lions are due to play the Springboks in July and August.
Tennis – Naomi Osaka is out of the Miami open. The world number two was beaten in straight sets by the 23rd seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in the quarter-finals. The defeat ends Osaka’s 23 match winning streak as she made 12 unforced errors in the first set and didn’t land one winner. She then let a 4-1 lead in the second set slip to lose the match 6-0 6–4.
Golf – The cause of the crash which resulted in Tiger Woods sustaining serious injuries has been determined by police in Los Angeles. Woods needed surgery after fracturing a leg and shattering his ankle in the crash on the 23rd February. Police say they have the details from the black box but the results of the investigation will only be published if the star agrees. The 45-year-old is now recovering at his Florida home and says he is working to get stronger every day.
Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 20-23 degrees. Overnight lows of 11 degrees with cloudy skies.
Good Friday and the start of the Easter weekend - Mainly fine with highs of 16-18 degrees.