In a press conference this evening French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that a 6pm curfew would be introduced for all areas of France and border controls would be strengthened.
The Prime Minister began by saying that he sincerely believed that the government's strategy has been "the right one". He said that the situation has stabilised over the past few days but remains "worrying" and the pressure on hospitals is stable but is "at a high level". The situation is under control but is "fragile".
Health Minister Olivier Veran said that there are between 200 to 300 new infections per day of the English variant but there are only a few cases per day of the South African variant.
The Prime Minister said that as of Monday all travellers coming to France from outside the EU will have to take a test before leaving which will have to be negative and will have to have been taken during the preceding 72 hours. Travellers will also have to self isolate for seven days after arriving in France and then take a further test.
A 6pm curfew will be introduced throughout France as from this Saturday. The curfew will be in place for at least fifteen days. All shops and services open to the public must close at 6pm. The curfew exemptions will be the same as in place currently. He said that the health situation doesn't justify a general confinement but if there is a sharp deterioration in the next few days then the government will immediately decide on a new confinement.
Health protocols in school canteens will be strengthened. Indoor physical activities and extraccuricular and sports activities in schools will be suspended. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that lycees would continue in "hybrid" teaching mode beyond 20 January.
As far as universities are concerned, tutorials will resume in half groups for first year students from the week of January 25.
Jean Castex said that as regards vaccines he had decided to open vaccinations to people who have one of the pathologies which lead to a severe form of the disease from January 18, regardless of their age.
Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the telephone number to enquire about registering for a vaccine. It is 0800 009 110 and will open tomorrow morning. Appointments can also be made on the website sante.fr
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire addressed financial support measures for businesses. He said that support would last as long as necessary but a timetable for exiting the crisis can't be given.
The Minister of Labour Elisabeth Bourne confirmed that partial unemployment will continue, with different rates depending on the situation.
Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot said that the government is in the process of creating a model which will allow the reopening of cultural establishments when the acute phase of the crisis is over.
Health Minister Olivier Veran announced a plan this morning to test up to one million children and teachers per month for the coronavirus. During a visit to the Moselle department the minister said that children as young as six years old could be tested "wherever it makes sense".
It appears that the sante.fr vaccination registration website may have been a victim of its own success. Today has been the first day of registration for those aged 75 and over. However, as from early this afternoon the site has been displaying a message saying that publication of the Covid-19 vaccination centers on sante.fr will take place tomorrow at 8 a.m. and from that time those eligible can make an appointment online or by telephone in the center of their choice.
A vaccination center will be opening in Menton next Monday, 18 January. The centre, located in the premises of “Menton Plus” at 8, Promenade de la Mer aux Sablettes, will be open initially from Monday to Friday, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Vaccinations will take place according to the official vaccination schedule, meaning that the first wave of vaccination will be reserved for people aged 75 and over. A shuttle will transport people with mobility difficulties to the vaccination center. Registration for people aged 75 and over residing in one of the CARF Riviera Agglomeration municipalities and wishing to be vaccinated will open tomorrow online on the national platform sante.fr or on menton.fr/vaccins. A telephone number will also be announced tomorrow.
The UK government has said that pre-departure Covid-19 testing will now be required for everyone travelling to England from 04:00 GMT on Monday. The rules had been due to come into force tomorrow. Those arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK nationals, will have to take a test within 72 hours before leaving the country they are in. Anyone arriving from places not on the UK's travel corridor list must still self-isolate for 10 days. France currently isn't on the UK's travel corridor list.
In other news, bomb threats have reportedly been made against two schools in the Var this afternoon. Reports say that the threats were made by telephone to the College Albrecht in Sainte Maxime and the Lycee Saint-Exupery in Saint-Raphael. Police are on the scene and all students are believed to have been taken to a place of safety.
The Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole has officially inaugurated its new Environmental and Health Safety Agency. It will be composed of experts and elected officials. The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, said that Mediterranean weather episodes, heat waves, and other recent events have shown that "our territory is exposed to risks and challenges that we have to face". Experts from several fields including medicine, engineering, seismic risk, environment, oceans and climate are involved in the agency. The mayor said that he would like those experts to make an overall risk assessment and take stock of actions already undertaken to identify new measures to be implemented or studies to be carried out.
Budget carrier Norwegian has announced that it will no longer continue long-haul flights. As part of its plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection the airline said that it will focus on its European short haul network. About 2,000 jobs are expected to be lost as part of the changes. It's board said that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry had been"profound".
Official figures released today show that the German economy contratcted by 5% last year. Household spending fell by 6% and investment in machinery and equipment was down 12.5%.
Tesco has reported record UK sales for the Christmas period. UK like-for-like sales were up 8.1% in the six weeks to 9 January.
Primark owner Associated British Foods has said that in the 16 weeks to 2 January sales at Primark were 30% lower than last year at constant currency rates. It said that the period had been characterised by the impact of restrictions on the movement of people put in place by UK and European governments to limit the spread of COVID-19. It said sales at its stores in retail parks were higher than a year ago. However, shopping centre and regional high street stores were lower than last year and large destination city centre stores, which are heavily reliant on tourism and commuters, continued to see "a significant decline" in footfall.
Tennis... Andy Murray has tested positive for the coronavirus. He's isolating at home in London. The positive test puts his participation in the Australian Open, which begins on 8 February, in doubt. However, Murray remains hopeful he will be allowed to travel at a later date and compete as planned.
Football.. The Aston Villa against Everton match which was due to be played on Sunday has been postponed because of coronavirus related problems at Villa. A statement from the Premier League said that a "significant number" of Villa players and staff remain in isolation.
Cricket... Si Lanka were out for 135 in only 46.1 overs on the first day of the First Test against England. At the end of the day's play England were 127-2 in reply.