The French High Authority of Health has recommended resuming vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine but only for people aged 55 and over. The Authority said that the age restriction is being put in place because the European Medicines Agency has identified a possible increased risk of certain types of thrombosis in people aged under 55.
Meanwhile, Jean Castex, who is 55 years old, has received an injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine this afternoon. The vaccine was administered at a military hospital in the Val-de-Marne department in the Ile-de-France.
The Alpes-Maritimes is due to go into a four week lockdown from midnight tonight, along with 15 departments in northern France. The start time of the national curfew will change from 6pm to 7pm tomorrow Saturday 20th March. From tomorrow, if you're in the Alpes-Maritimes, you can circulate freely from 6am to 7pm on the condition that you have filled in the “attestation” form and ticked one of the reasons for being outdoors. Travel between regions is prohibited unless you have a compelling or professional reason as stipulated on the “attestation”. All non-essential shops will be closed. However, it was announced today that hairdressers will be allowed to remain open. One of the main differences between the new confinement and the previous ones is that you will be able to leave your home for an unlimited time, except during the hours of the curfew, to take exercise or play sports within a radius of 10km of your home, but a completed certificate will still be required. However, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that prefects will be instructed to stop gatherings in public places. He also warned that the authorization to leave your home should not be used to "go to friends" or "organize barbecues with friends".
The Prime Minister was due to be in Nice today but has cancelled his visit because of the health crisis.
The Monaco government has said that in view of the new provisions applicable from this weekend in the sixteen French Departments which are being confined, it recommends that Monegasques and Monaco residents avoid any stay in those departments. It also said that in solidarity with the system put in place in the Alpes-Maritimes, reinforced controls will be operated from this Saturday at the Franco-Monegasque border for the next four weeks in order to avoid a influx of people who do not have a valid reason to come to Monaco. The government said that apart from Monegasque residents, only people working in the Principality and those living in neighboring municipalities, as well as Eze and Menton, will be able to enter Monaco on presentation of the French exemption certificate. Those wishing to stay in Monaco must continue to present a hotel reservation and a negative PCR test within 72 hours.
The new confinement measures announced by Jean Castex last night have been met with opposition from some of the elected officials in the Alpes-Maritimes. The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has denounced what he called a measure without a health basis but with heavy moral, social and economic consequences. He said that the latest confinement should be called an "anti-trade confinement", since we can be outside "without time limit" and "only our businesses seem to be affected by these new measures". Mayor of Antibes-Juan-les-Pins, Jean Leonetti, said that the the announcements by Jean Castex on confinement for the department are "inconsistent and contradictory" with the strategy developed up until now by Emmanuel Macron. He said that the acceptability of these measures by the French is decreasing and the management of the crisis is "increasingly chaotic". He added that the measures "will only have the main effect of penalizing already weakened commercial activity without significantly slowing the progression of Covid-19" and called for vaccination to be accelerated and "confidence in all vaccines restored".
Street parking will be free in Nice from tomorrow until April 18 inclusive because of the confinement measures. A proportional reimbursement will be offered to those with a parking contract.
In other news, a meeting of the Franco-Monegasque Cooperation Commission was held yesterday. The annual meeting, which was this year held by videoconference because of the pandemic, discussed a wide range of subjects incuding health, social security and labour law and transport matters. The possible integration of Monaco into any future system system of European vaccination passports was also discussed. In the area of cooperation, the committee examined the impact of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union on the situation of British people living or working in the Principality.
Organisers of the Cannes Film Festival have annnounced that an online film marketplace will be held in May. The Marche du Film will also take place alongside the Cannes Film Festival as usual, when the festival is held this summer, from 6 to 15 July. Organisers said that many international sales agents had expressed the need for an intermediate event in the spring which will allow them to do business and to network virtually, while awaiting the main Marche du Film in July.
Ceremonies have been held in our region for the national day of remembrance and meditation in memory of the civilian and military victims of the Algerian war and the fighting in Tunisia and in Morocco. The Prefect of Var, Evence Richard, chaired a commemoration ceremony in the department this morning in the presence of civil and military authorities.
Fench government statistics agency INSEE will be conducting surveys by telephone with certain pre-selected households in Antibes Juan-les-Pins in the coming weeks. A survey will be taking place from March 25 to April 17 on rents and charges and until April on resources and living conditions.
UK government borrowing hit £19.1bn last month, which is the highest figure for February since records began in 1993. It was £17.6bn higher than February last year. The Office for National Statistics said that total UK public sector debt is £2.13 trillion.
Consumer confidence in the UK has improved, reaching a one year high in March, according to a new survey. GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index increased seven points to -16 in March. The organisation said that the improvement is a reflection of well-received Budget announcements, the successful vaccine roll-out and roadmaps in place for ending lockdown.
Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has reported a 54% fall in revenue for the six months to 24 January. Founder and Chairman Tim Martin said that the UK government's policy of lockdown and tier systems had created "economic and social mayhem and collosal debts".
Football... In the Europa League quarter finals, Manchester United have been drawn against Granada and Arsenal will face Slavia Prague. Ajax are against Roma, while Dinamo Zagreb play Villarreal. Quarter-final matches will be played on 8 and 15 April and the semi-finals on 29 April and 6 May. The final will take place in Gdansk, Poland on 26 May.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will play Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Manchester City are against Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea play Porto and Bayern Munich play Paris St-Germain.
In the English Premier League this weekend, Fulham play Leeds tonight. On Saturday, Brighton play Newcastle and on Sunday West Ham play Arsenal and Aston Villa host Spurs.
It’s FA Cup quarter final weekend in England. Bournemouth play Southampton and Everton play Manchester City on Saturday while on Sunday Chelsea play Sheffield United and Leicester play Manchester United.
Rugby Union.. In the 6 Nations this weekend, Wales take on France in Paris tomorrow, Scotland play Italy and Ireland host England in Dublin. The France against Scotland game will be played on 26th March.
There’s one game in the Gallagher Premiership tonight. Newcastle play Wasps while in the Guinness Pro 14 Munster play Benetton. Leinster host Ospreys and Ulster play Zebre.