Evening Update Thursday 3 December 2020

A press conference has taken place in Paris at which Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced the French government's vaccine rollout strategy. The Prime Minister began by saying that "we have not yet come to the end of this virus" and the situation remains "fragile" although the health situation is improving.

For the end of year celebrations he said that a maximum of six adults, not including children, is recommended.

 As regards vaccination, he said that the choice of who should be vaccinated as a priority does not lie with the government but with the High Authority for Health ("HAS") who will give their judgement on the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines by 29 December. He added that the start of vaccination "is now a matter of weeks away".

He said France will receive enough vaccines to vaccinate 100 million people, which is more than needed. He said that there will be three stages of vaccination distribution. The HAS had recommended that the elderly in establishments, particularly in nursing homes, be vaccinated first. One million priority people wll be able to be vaccinated in January and February. Phase two in March will involve the 14 million people who have risk factors and certain health professionals. The third and final phase will involve the remainder of the population and will run from the spring. The vaccine will be free of charge to everyone. He said that it is desirable that local GPs be at the heart of the vaccination process and that the roll out process must be subject to "security, transparency and proximity", which is why the strategy will be presented to parliament.

Minister of Health Olivier Veran said that three principles will be respected - "the free choice of patients, free vaccines and safety" and that the recommendations of the HAS are "our roadmap" for the coming weeks. He said that people in nursing homes will receive priority and then the "target will be gradually broadened", "between February and March", first to those over 75, then over 65, then to health professionals over 50 with comorbidities and then the target "will be further broadened" beyond that. He said that the stages of the plan are likely to change depending on authorizations and deliveries and that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive first. He added that over the next few months the vaccine "will not fundamentally change the course of the epedemic" and barrier gestures, testing and contact tracing will still be necessary.

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has visited the scene of a fire in which one person died this morning. Firefighters were called to the blaze in an apartment on rue Tiranty at around 7am. About 50 people were evacuated from the premises while firefighters fought the blaze on the top floor. Two firefighters were taken to hospital with injuries.

The 2021 edition of the Nice Carnival has been postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic. The event, which is one of the main winter attractions in the city, was due to be held from 13 to 27 February.

Meteo France have several yellow weather warnings for the Var and the Alpes Maritimes tomorrow, Friday. As far as the Var is concerned, there's a warning for storms from 3am to midday and for high waves and coastal flooding from 8am to 4pm. In the Alpes Maritimes, there's a storm warning from 6am to 4pm and one for high waves and coastal flooding from 8am to 4pm. There are also yellow warnings for icy conditions and avalanches in the Alpes Maritimes. You can find full details of all the warnings at www.meteofrance.com

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said that state services will launch what he called "massive and unprecedented action against separatism". He said that 76 mosques suspected of separatism will be checked in the next few days and "those which have to be closed will be". The minister also said today that of 231 illegal aliens listed for radicalization 66 were expelled, 46 are in administrative detention centers, 30 are under house arrest and 5 are incarcerated.

A temporary bathing ban decree has been issued by the Municipality of Antibes Juan-les-Pins because of the planned shutdown of a waste water facility. The bathing ban affects the Marineland, Fontonne Est, Fontonne Ouest and Fort Carré beaches from today until midnight on 6 December.

The Cannes Town Hall has won an award from the Association of Cities for Urban Cleanliness. Cannes received the Grand Prize for “Sustainable Development” for its commitment to protecting the coast and the sea. The distinction was awarded by the 180 member communities of the association.

A man in his twenties, reportedly from the UK, has died after accidentally being shot by hunters in the village of Calvig-nac in the Lot department. Reports in local media say that the man was not involved in the hunt and was chopping wood nearby. One person has been taken into custody.

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities and the Prefects of the Var and the Alpes Maritimes have reminded people that a support number for those with disabilities and caregivers has been established during the Covid19 crisis. The number, which is open to people throughout France, is 0 800 360 360.


Several more UK supermarket operators have announced the repayment of funds they received from the government during the pandemic. Sainsbury's and Aldi have said they will hand back a total of £540m of business rates relief. Both companies said the decision reflected the fact they had been allowed to stay open during lockdown. Asda has announced today that it will repay £340m of business rates relief it received during the pandemic. The latest moves follow Tesco agreeing to pay back 585 million pounds and Morrisons 274 million pounds.

A widely watched survey suggests that the private sector economy in the Eurozone contracted during November. IHS Markit's Composite Output Index registered 45.3 in the month, down from 50 in October. However, it said that business confidence has improved recently after the encouraging news on vaccines.

The US Labor Department has released the latest jobless claim numbers. A lower than expected 712,000 people filed new jobless claims in the last seven days, down from the previous week's figure of 787,000.


Cricket....  Jonny Bairstow looks set to return to the England Test squad for the Sri Lanka tour. Bairstow has been playing with Big Bash League side Melbourne Stars who tweeted that the player was withdrawing from the Big Bash League after being recalled by the ECB. England are expected to play two Tests in Sri Lanka next month but the squad and schedule haven't yet been confirmed.

Football... The Premier League and English Football League have agreed a £250m rescue package to help the finacial situation of EFL clubs. The Premier League will help the EFL to get a £200m loan for Championship clubs. A £50m grant has been agreed for League One and Two clubs.

Rugby Union... Pablo Matera has been reinstated as Argentina captain and had his suspension lifted. Matera and two other players were suspended for "discriminatory and xenophobic" comments on social media between 2011 and 2013. The Argentine Rugby Union said that the players' apologies and good behaviour since the comments meant their suspensions could be lifted.

Motorsports.. Formula 1’s governing body the FIA has launched an investigation into Romain Grosjean’s crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend. It said that its findings would be published in six to eight weeks time.

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