Evening Update Tuesday 28 April 2020

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has been presenting the government's plans for the end of lockdown to the National Assembly this afternoon.  The Prime Minister began by saying that we have to learn to live with Covid-19, learn to protect ourselves from it and the risk of a second wave "is to be taken seriously". The deconfinement plan will be implemented around three principles - protect, test, isolate.

Pharmacies and supermarkets will be invited to sell disposable or washable masks. At the end of confinement, the government will be able to carry out 700,000 virus tests per week and they will be 100% covered by health insurance. All contact cases will be tested and asked to isolate themselves. The Prime Minister said that if, approaching May 11, the number of new daily cases was not within the expected range, then "we should draw the consequences." But "if everything is ready" on May 11, then a phase will begin which will last until June 2, for example the reopening of cafes and restaurants would be decided at the end of May.

He said that the government is proposing a very gradual reopening of kindergartens and elementary schools nationally from May 11, but on a voluntary basis. Creches will also be reopened from May 11 with groups of 10 children maximum. Children under 3 will not be required to wear masks. Reopening colleges, starting with the fifth and sixth, would be considered. As regards high schools, a decision would be made in early June.

He said that remote working should be maintained wherever possible for at least the next three weeks.

Shops, including outdoor markets and indoor halls, will all be able to reopen from 11 May if they put health protection measures in place, but cafes and restaurants are to remain closed. However, Prefects will be able to decide if large shopping centres should reopen.

From May 11, certificates to travel near people's homes will no longer be required, except for travel beyond 100 kilometers, authorized for "compelling reasons, family or business".

Different regions of France will have different levels of deconfinement depending on whether the virus remains active in the area, the pressure on hospital intensive care units and the local availability of testing.

Wearing a mask will be compulsory on all public transport.

Beaches will remain closed until at least until June 1. Large museums, cinemas and theatres cannot reopen at this stage. All events with more than 5,000 participants cannot be held before September. The 2019-2020 season of professional sport, especially football, will not be able to resume.

Gatherings will be limited to 10 people "on public roads and in private places". He said that there will be no religious ceremonies until June 2.

As far as digital tools are concerned, he said that when the application has been proved to work, a specific debate followed by a specific vote will be held on those measures.

He stated that the aim was to "rely heavily on everyone's civic spirit." The proposals are being put to a vote of MPs after a debate. The leader of the Republicans in the National Assembly, Damien Abad, has said that the Right will abstain in the vote and that certain Republican deputies will vote against it. He cited the lack of opportunity to discuss the plans and what he called the "vagueness" of the plans.

In Monaco, the Minister of State, Serge Telle, will be giving a televised address to the nation at 7pm this evening. Several other ministers will also be present. Following the address by HSH Prince Albert II yesterday evening, the Minister of State is expected to give more details of the deconfinement plans being adopted in the Principality.

The distribution of masks has got underway in Nice today. The Mayor, Christian Estrosi, has said that 51 sites are giving out the masks to those who have registerd and obtained a withdrawal notice.

Reports say that seven crew members from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle are still being treated in hospital, including two in intensive care. 611 soldiers are reportedly cured and 680 others are still under surveillance.

A group of police officers and carers in the Var and Bouches du Rhone are taking legal action against the French state. Their complaint, sent to the prosecutor's office in Paris, includes an allegation of "deliberate endangering of the life of others" and concerns alleged shortcomings in preparations for the pandemic and the management of the state's response.

A man in his forties has been sentenced to four months in prison for vandalising the car of a nurse in Cannes at the weekend and stealing the mask inside. He was also ordered to pay damages.

Two of the Riviera's biggest summer music events have been cancelled this year. The Nice Jazz Festival was set to be held from July 17 to 21 and the Jazz à Juan festival, which would have been celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, was scheduled to take place in July. The next edition is now scheduled for July 2021.

We may still be in lockdown and many events in the outside world have been cancelled, but that hasn't stopped charities and individuals organising fundraising events. Mimosa Matters, one of the local charities involved in supporting those affected by cancer, have just launched the Mimosa Family Challenge. Mimosa are asking families to run at home for the week of 3rd - 9th May with the aim of running the same distance in total as running around mainland France and Monaco, which is 6,398 km. If you'd like to take part and help Mimosa Matters, check out their website https://www.mimosamatters.org/


BUSINESS

HSBC has reported a sharp fall in profits for the first quarter.  Pre-tax earnings were $3.2bn, down from $6.2bn a year ago. The bank also said that it would suspend plans announced in February to cut 35,000 jobs, saying it doesn't want to leave staff unable to find work elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak.

BP has announced first quarter profits down by two thirds because of reduced demand for oil and lower oil prices. The company said that it was facing an "exceptional level of uncertainty". However, it said it would still pay a dividend.

Dave Lewis, the Chief Executive of Tesco, has said that the company's data reveals that shopping habits have changed during the pandemic. He said that the company had seen fewer visits to their supermarkets but that much more was being spent on each visit. He said that the number of transactions in April nearly halved, but the size of the average basket had doubled.

 

SPORT

Olympics... The President of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has said he is confident that the rescheduled Games will go ahead as planned in July and August next year. He made the remarks after concerns had been expressed by some health experts  that it may not be possible to hold the Games in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatments for the coronavirus. He said that if they couldn't go ahead next year, they wouldn't be delayed until 2022 and would be cancelled.

Football... Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland striker Michael Robinson has died at the age of 61. He had been diagnosed with skin cancer in 2018. Robinson was with Liverpool for the 1983-84 season and also played for clubs including Manchester City, Brighton and Queens Park Rangers.

Rugby.... Australia's National Rugby League has announced that matches are expected to resume on 28 May. Following talks with clubs, broadcast partners and other stakeholders, the Australian Rugby League Commission said the league would return as a 20-round competition instead of the original 25 rounds prior to the play-offs. The Grand Final has been scheduled for 25 October.

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