Evening Update Thursday 18 March 2021

The Alpes-Maritimes is to go into 7 day a week lockdown for four weeks, starting this Friday evening at midnight. Trips outside the home to walk, take fresh air or play sport will be without time limit but must be accompanied by a certificate and be within 10km of your home. Non-essential businesses will be closed, except for those businesses selling books and music. Schools and colleges will remain open, with high schools becoming "half-gauge". Rules for places of worship will remain unchanged. Inter-regional travel will be prohibited except for compelling or professional reasons.

Other areas to go into 7 day a week lockdown for four weeks are the Ile-de-France where eight departments will be affected, Hauts-de-France which will involve five departments, the Eure and the Seine-Maritime.

The curfew still applies in the sixteen departments affected by the new rules. The curfew time will be changed from 6pm to 7pm throughout France from Saturday.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex made the announcement at a press conference this evening on the coronavirus situation. The Prime Minister said that the progression of the epedemic is accelerating markedly, with 30,000 cases yesterday and 35,000 today. He said that the British variant is the reason for what he said looks "more and more clearly" like a "third wave" of the virus. The British variant now accounts for 73% of new cases of the virus and the Brazilian and South African variants for 5%. Intensive care services are seeing people who are younger and in better health than in previous waves and they are staying longer in hospital.

In the Ile-de-France incidence rates are up by 23% in one week. He said that the weekend confinements in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Pas-de-Calais have had a real effect but not sufficient to "strongly break the dynamics of the epedemic".

The Prime Minister said that businesses must "push teleworking" in the coming weeks, with the goal of reaching 4 out of 5 days teleworking.

He said that the measures he has announced this evening are intended to apply "for at least the next four weeks" as this is the time required for them to produce a sufficient effect, "unless of course there are sufficient positive results". He added that the measures he is announcing could be extended to the remainder of France if necessary.

As regards the vaccination campaign, almost 45% of people over 75 have now received a first injection.

The vaccination campaign with the AstraZeneca vaccine will resume tomorrow afternoon. He repeated the government's taget of vaccinating at least 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by mid-June.

Health Minister Olivier Veran mentioned that innovative antibody treatments can now be offered to people at risk of a severe form of Covid-19.

He said that medical evacuations in the Ile-de-France are becoming more and more complicated and not all patients are transferrable.

He added that the more we respect barrier gestures, the more we limit the risks.

Jean Castex concluded by saying that we are facing a third wave but the big difference with the previous waves is that we now have the prospect of vaccination.

Jean Castex is scheduled to be in Nice tomorrow. He is expected to hold discussions about the economic recovery plan during his visit.

The European Medicines Agency has said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is a "safe and effective vaccine". At a press conference early this evening Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, said that its benefits in protecting people at risk of Covid-19 "go well beyond its potential risks". The EMA said that there had been "specific and unusual events" and a link cannot be ruled out definitively between these cases and the vaccine but when a large population is vaccinated it is not uncommon for rare cases of pathologies to occur. Emer Cooke said that it is important to detect these incidents and to investigate quickly  to determine if they are coincidences. The EMA said that a warning should be added to the patient leaflet and information should be provided to healthcare professionals and the public so that timely action can be taken to mitigate risks. The agency said it would continue to study possible links between rare blood clots and the vaccine.

Monaco has announced the extension of current coronavirus measures until 2 April. The measures had been due to expire tomorrow night at midnight. The curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. will therefore remain in force for two additional weeks. The same applies to the rules relating to consumption in catering establishments at lunchtime - access is reserved for residents, employees and schools of the Principality, reservations are required, the number of guests is limited to 6 people per table and service can only take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The compulsory use of teleworking in the private and public sectors remains in force.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region has received an award from an EU project designed to foster entrepreneurial activity in Europe's regions. President of the PACA region, Renaud Muselier, said that it's an honour to receive