Evening Update Thursday 20 January 2022

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran have presented a timetable for the lifting of Covid-19 measures at a press conference this evening. Jean Castex began by announcing that the vaccine pass will come into force on Monday and as a result the government will be able to lift most restrictions in February. He added that those who take their first vaccine dose by February 15 and who have a negative test within 24 hours and also agree to receive a second dose within 28 days will be able to get a vaccine pass straight away.

Several changes will come into effect as from February 2. Masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors, teleworking will no longer be compulsory but will still be recommended and cultural and sports venues will be able to accomodate people without a limit on numbers as long as they remain seated.

From February 16, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, standing consumption at bars will be allowed as will standing at concerts.

He said that the government is considering reducing the health protocol in schools after the February holidays and added that this may involve the removal of the mask wearing requirement for students in elementary schools and the number of tests required to be carried out.

The booster dose will be made available to all 12-17 year olds from Monday and he said "we must in particular advance the vaccination of 5-11 year olds".

He said that the "exceptional wave" of the simultaneous circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants is not over but "the situation is starting to evolve favourably". He said that the wave linked to the Delta variant is falling everywhere and the Omicron variant "is starting to stall" in those areas which were affected earliest such as the Ile-de-France. He added that Omicron is "clearly less severe".

Meanwhile, the Scientific Council said today that between nine and fourteen million people could have been infected with the Omicron variant since the beginning of December. A record 525,527 cases of Covid-19 were reported in France on Monday.

In Monaco, the government has announced that it is reactivating several economic aid and support measures. The measures concern in particular the sectors of events and tourism, catering and souvenir retail businesses. The support measures come into force today and are at this stage scheduled to last until the end of February. The government said that this period will be used to measure the evolution of the situation and determine the most appropriate measures for the future.

The custody of a police officer who was detained in connection with a shooting in Nice yesterday has been extended. Nice Prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme announced the extension of custody in a press release issued today. The officer was taken into custody after the death of a man who was shot by the officer during a police operation in rue de la Buffa yesterday. The prosecutor said today that the officer has said the shooting was accidental.

The strike by teachers today appears to have received little support according to the French government. Figures released by the Ministry of National Education show that only about two per cent of teaching staff were on strike at midday. Demonstrations have been taking place throughout France today, including in Paris this afternoon.

President of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Region Renaud Muselier has said that he would like to see the Winter Olymics held in our region. At a press conference this morning he said that he would like to see the event being held in "all the southern Alps" in 2034 or 2038 and would make the region available to the French National Olympic Committee. However, it's not known how the International Olympic Committee would view such a proposal, particularly as the Winter Olympics are already due to be held in the southern Alps in nearby northern Italy in 2026.


BUSINESS

Primark owner Associated British Foods has said it plans to cut 400 jobs at the high street clothing retailer as part of a drive to simplify its management structure. The company said the job changes aimed to "provide clearer accountability, greater flexibility and more management support on the shop floor". Primark, which employs 29,000 people in total across 191 stores in the UK, said it would be consulting with staff regarding the plans. In a trading update issued today its said that its stores in retail parks and town centres continued to outperform destination city centre stores.

Many UK businesses experienced a fall in sales in December accoding to an analysis of VAT returns by the Office for National Statistics. A net 6% of firms reported decreasing turnover compared with the previous month, which is the highest proportion reporting a fall in monthly turnover since the early weeks of the pandemic in the UK in April 2020.


SPORT

Tennis...Emma Raducanu is out of the Australian Open after being beaten in the second round by Danka Kovinic. The US Open champion needed treatment on a blister on her hand and lost the match 6-4  4-6  6-3. Andy Murray is also out of the tournament after losing in straight sets to Taro Daniel. Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to third round after beating Argentina's Sebastian Baez in four sets. Local French player Alize Cornet, who is from Nice, is also in the third round after beating world number three Garbine Muguruza.

Football... Manchester United have reportedly rejected a loan bid by Newcastle United for Jesse Lingard. The England player's contract with the Manchester club expires at the end of the season.

The second leg of the English League Cup semi final between Arsenal and Liverpool is being played tonight. The scores are tied at 0-0 after the first leg.

 

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