Evening Update Friday 16 April 2021

French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that the level of circulation of the virus in France is "too high" and the lifting of the curfew "is not relevant". However, he said that announcements would be made "in the coming weeks" and "we are acting so that within a month the sanitary conditions will allow us to resume a more normal life gradually". He added that there is a tendancy for improvement in the health situation but he remains cautious.

French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has said that the government is working on health protocols for re-opening in mid-May and that "everything will be done gradually". Speaking to French television this morning the minister also raised the possibility that the EU may not renew its contract with AstraZeneca, saying that discussions had already been started with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna but discussions had not been started with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Meanwhile, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said during an interview this morning that confinement measures are still currently scheduled to end on 3 May.

Speaking during a visit to a hospital in Normandy today, French Prime Minster Jean Castex said that there were "a certain number of favourable developments" regarding incidence rates but the third wave of the epedemic is "far from over".

One million people have now received a first injection against Covid-19 in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Region. The Regional Health Agency said that, of that million, almost 370,000 people have received two doses.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has received a vaccination today after vaccinations were opened to the over 60's. The mayor said that "only vaccination will allow us to emerge from this crisis faster" and he urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has been in Toulon today. She visited the Alsace multi-mission air defence frigate which has been delivered to the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The ship is the 7th out of 8 planned vessels.

Meteo France have a yellow weather warning in place for storms in the Var until 10am Saturday morning and in the Alpes-Maritimes until 8pm Friday evening.

The Cannes Film Festival has announced a series of environmental measures which will be in place for this year's festival.  Amongst the measures, the fleet of official cars will be composed of 60% electric or hybrid vehicles, there'll be a 50% reduction in paper printing as well as a 50% reduction in the volume of red carpet used and the total elimination of plastic water bottles. The 74th Festival takes place from July 6-17.

A French Navy air sea rescue helicopter was called out on a false alarm yesterday when a paragliding canopy was seen floating in the open sea off Le Grau-du-Roi in the Gard department. Nobody was found in the vicinity. Cross Med has asked people to report the loss of such equipment to avoid air sea rescue services being called out needlessly.



Online grocery company Ocado has announced a deal with Oxford based business Oxbotica to collaborate on autonomous vehicles. Ocado said that the aim is to reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations and uses range from vehicles that operate inside Ocado's Customer Fulfilment Centre buildings and the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and "kerb-to-kitchen robots". The company said that it will invest £10m in Oxbotica.

EU statistics body Eurostat has said that exports from the EU to the United Kingdom partially recovered between January and February, rising by 13% in seasonally adjusted terms, but were 21% below the level observed in December 2020. With respect to imports into the EU from the United Kingdom, the recovery was more pronounced than with respect to exports with an increase close to 60% in February. However, imports also remained significantly below the level of December 2020, being down by 32%.



Tennis... Britian's Dan Evans has once again had a good day at the Monte Carlo Masters, defeating David Goffin to go through to the semi-finals. Stefanos Tsitsipas is also through to the semis after his opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retired during the match because of a problem with his left leg.

Motorsports... Valtteri Bottas took first place in first practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this morning, with Lewis Hamilton in second and Max Verstappen in third. Monaco's Charles Leclerc was in fourth place and Pierre Gasly was fifth. However, this afternoon Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari at the end of the session and finished fifth. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were once again in first and second place, with Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jnr in third and fourth respectively.

Cricket....Ben Stokes will be out for up to 12 weeks because of a fractured left index finger and will miss the Test series against New Zealand starting on 2 June. Stokes is currently playing in the Indian Premier League with Rajasthan Royals but will return to the UK for surgery.