Evening Update Thursday 12 November 2020

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said this evening that confinement rules will be unchanged for at least the next 15 days and businesses which are closed will not be able to reopen before then. He said that "massive economic support" would continue to be provided to closed businesses. Speaking at a press conference in Paris with several of his ministers the Prime Minister said that the peak of hospitalisations may be reached in the next week and some easing measures might be possible from 1 December, strictly limited to certain shops, with reinforced protocols. Bars, restaurants and sports halls would remain closed if restrictions were eased on 1 December. He added that a travel certificate will still be necessary after 1 December. He said it "wouldn't be reasonable" to hold big parties at the end of the year.

The Prime Minister said that in recent days there had been one hospitalisation with Covid-19 every 30 seconds and one admission to intensive care every three minutes. 45% of employees at private business had worked remotely in the past week for an average of 3.7 days but "we can still make progress" on teleworking.  He said that the "R" rate, or reproduction rate, of the virus is now between 0.8 and 0.9. He called upon people to respect the confinement measures and said that he had asked the Minister of the Interior to increase the mobilization of the police.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the peak of coronavirus cases could be reached in the next few days. He said that 2.2 million PCR tests per week are being carried out and protocols would be put in place in the next few days for testing in businesses.

Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer said that health protocols had been tightened in schools from 2 November. He said that "hybrid" solutions are possible where 100% attendance isn't possible but he has asked that at least 50% of students time be spent in establishments by the end of the calendar year. Reinforced testing is being planned for schools.

Minister of Labour Elisabeth Bourne said that there is still room for improvement on teleworking and that "every day, every hour" of teleworking counts. A helpline has been set up for those who feel isolated due to teleworking. The number is 0800 13 00 00. She also announced an extension to unemployment insurance for those people coming to an end of their rights to such insurance.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed that the economic support measures announced at the beginning of the month would continue to apply for the next 15 days and announced certain provisions regarding rent payments by businesses.
Jean Castex also said that 1,600 new student jobs will be created.

In other news, new figures released by the Interior Ministry today show that between October 30 and November 9 there were 88,455 fines issued for breach of confienement regulations. There were 315 fines concerning the irregular opening of establishments to the public.

Three hikers have been fined in the Vaucluse department for breaching confinement regulations. The three had to be rescued by helicopter when they got into difficulties in a mountainous area yesterday evening.

The Prefect of the Var has issued a reminder that a government website exists which offers recommendations for your health and that of your loved ones in 3 minutes. The "Mes Consiels Covid" website can be found at https://mesconseilscovid.sante.gouv.fr/#introduction

Police were called to a McDonald's in Nice this morning after an employee threatened to take his own life. The incident happened at about 8.30 this morning at the restaurant on Avenue Jean Medcin, not far from the Notre Dame Basilica where three people lost their lives in an attack on 29 October. Reports say that firefighters and police were quickly on the scene and no injuries occurred. The employee has been taken ino police custody.

A fleet of ten self-service electric bicycles has been made available to the public in Villeneuve-Loubet. Mayor of Antibes Jean Leonetti and former Alpes Marities deputy Lionel Lucca were present at the official launch of the scheme this morning.

French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has said that Japenese tire manufacturer Bridgestone will close its factory in Bethune in the Pas-de-Calais. The government had put forward a plan to save many of the 863 jobs at the site but the minister said today that the company had "closed the door" on the plan.

A special week of events is being held aimed at improving people's health. The first edition of National Malnutrition Week got underway today and runs until 19 November. This event was established under the 2019 National Health Nutrition Plan and aims to raise awareness about malnutrition which is estimated to affect 2 million people in France. Almost 2,000 events are taking place during the event. You can get more information at https://www.luttecontreladenutrition.fr/

A census of the nation's farmers is getting underway. The French agricultural census is carried out every ten years and also takes place in other EU member states. This year it's happening mostly online because of the pandemic. The census aims to update data on French agriculture and the results are used for several purposes including to adjust local and national food policies, to measure the amount of French agriculture within the European Union and to run vetenary and inspection services more efficiently.



New data out today from the Office for National Statistics  shows that the UK economy registered record growth of 15.5% in the July to September quarter. However, the figures were slightly less than had been expected by many economists and the UK economy was still 8.2% smaller than before the pandemic. Analysts warned that the economy is likely to contract again in the final three months of the year because of the impact of new lockdown measures.

Retailer WH Smith has reported a pre-tax loss of £226m for the year to the end of August, down from a profit of £135m last year. Group revenues fell by a third to just over £1bn. The company has been heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak as lockdown measures forced many of its shops to close earlier this year. Travel restrictions also affected revenues at its shops in railway stations and airports.

BAE Systems has been awarded a £1.3bn order to support the production of 38 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the German Air Force. Work will commence in 2021 at BAE Systems’ sites in Lancashire and the company said that continuity of Typhoon production would be maintained through to the mid-2020s.


Cricket... Australia have named their squad for the series against India. Five uncapped players have been named in the squad - Will Pucovski, Cameron Green, Sean Abbott, Michael Neser and Mitchell Swepson. The series begins on 17 December.

Football... Liverpool have said that Joe Gomez is likely to miss a "significant part" of the rest of season. The defender has had surgery on a knee injury sustained during training.

Scotland and Northern Ireland both have big Euro 2020 games tonight as both teams attempt to reach the finals of the delayed Euro 2020 Championships. Scotland face Serbia in Belgrade while Northern Ireland host Slovakia at Windsor Park. There are a large number of international friendly games tonight including England against the Republic of Ireland and Wales against the USA.

Argentinian footballing legend Diego Maradona has been transferred to a clinic to be treated for alcohol dependency. He was discharged from hospital in Buenos Aires yesterday after having surgery for a blood clot on his brain.