Evening Update Wednesday 29 April 2020

The overwhelming majority of people approve of the deconfinement measures announced by Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe yesterday, according to a new survey. The exception is the return to school. For example, the maintainence of teleworking was approved of by 93% of respondents, the wearing of facemasks on public transport was supported by 91% and approval of  the cancellation of sporting and cultural events is at 82%. However, only 49% of respondents approved of the plans to reopen schools. The opinion poll was published today by French financial newspaper Les Echos.

The French government has said that protective masks will be sold at a price of 2 to 3 euros. An agreement has been signed which will result in masks being sold through certain large retailers next week and at all large retailers from May 11. In addition, large supermarkets will be selling paper masks at cost, according to the Secretary of State for the Economy. Five million reusable masks per week will also be made available for the most vulnerable.

The French Minister of Labour, Muriel Penicaud, has said that 11.3 million people in France are now on partial unemployment. Meanwhile, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has called upon people to return to work after the deconfinement gets underway on 11 May. He said that returning to work activities is "essential for the French nation." The French government is estimating that GDP will fall by about 8% this year because of the virus outbreak.

The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, has said that the number of deaths from coronavirus which have ocurred at home will be made available sometime in June. Addressing the National Assembly today, he said that it was more complicated to establish the number of deaths at home compared to hospitals and nursing homes because it required data to be collected from death certificates, both electronic and non-electronic.

A new update on the condition of the crew of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has been given by the Armed Force Ministry today. Five crew members remain in hospital with Covid-19. 943 personnel from the carrier and its "strike group" are cured. The Ministry also stated that disinfection of the ship has been completed.

Another major event in the south of France has been cancelled. The International Photography Meeting in Arles in the Bouches-du-Rhône, which draws visitors from around the world each summer, has been called off for this year because of the pandemic. The festival would have celebrated its 51st edition this year.

 

BUSINESS

New figures released this afternoon show that the US economy contracted at an annualised rate of 4.8%. It's the first quarterly fall since 2014 but doesn't represent the full sc