President Macron has announced further measures to control the epidemic. The reinforced breaking measures which are currently in force in 19 departments will be extended to the whole of France for four weeks from this Saturday evening. Businesses will be closed, as per the existing list. The 7pm curfew will be kept in place everywhere. A certificate will be mandatory during the day only for those travelling more than 10km from home. He called upon employers to use teleworking wherever possible. Those who wish to change region for isolation will be able to do so this Easter weekend.
All nurseries, schools and high schools will be required to have one week of distance learning from Monday and then all three school zones of France will be on holiday simultaneously for two weeks. After the two weeks holiday, kindergarten and primary schools will reopen but middle and high school students will be required to use distance learning for one further week.
University students will be able to attend their university for one day per week if they wish.
The President reiterated that everyone in France over the age of 18 will be able to receive a vaccine "by the end of the summer" if they wish.
From April 16 appointments will be opened for those aged 60 to 75.
The first appointments for those aged between 50 and 60 will be opened on 15 May and for those under 50 from mid-June.
He added that he country will reopen from mid-May and a schedule for bars, restaurants and cultural venues will be announced soon. Reopening will gradually occur between mid-May and the beginning of summer.
President Macron said it had been a year of sorrows and hardships in which soon 100,000 families will have suffered a bereavement. He said that the preferred method of controlling the epedemic at the end of January had been by curfew rather than confinement and that the government "had never lost control of the epedemic". However, in recent weeks we have faced a new situation. We must make an extra effort in the next few months.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is scheduled to make an address to the French parliament on the health situation tomorrow. The national assembly and senate will then hold a debate and a vote on health measures. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal stated that the government will make a decision on whether to postpone local elections in June after consulting political parties.
The board of directors of the Hospital Federation of France has voted unanimously to ask the government to introduce strict confinement measures. It said that such measures were needed to help protect patients and those who care for them and to enable hospitals to carry out their work.
Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, has said that a new coronavirus variant has been discovered. The “Henri-Mondor” variant, named after the hospital in the Paris area where it was discovered, was identified within a cluster made up of three hospital professionals and the spouse of one of three. Inserm said the variant "is now actively circulating in France". In the four weeks which followed its discovery, the new variant was found in 29 patients of various geographical origins in the Île-de-France, South-East and South-West of France. In a survey on March 2 the variant represented 1.8% of the strains sequenced in France. It said that new studies will be necessary to know if the variant is more, as much, or less contagious than the other known variants, if it is also detected by the various virological tests, if it is associated with clinical forms of different severity and / or if vaccines and antiviral treatments are effective.
The prosecutors office in Lyon has opened an investigation after a large unauthorised gathering took place in the city yesterday. An estimated three hundred people attended a party on the river banks. Meanwhile, there have been reports of several thousand people gathering in a local park in Lille in the Nord department this afternoon.
In other news, public transport is expected to be disrupted in our region this Friday due to nationwide strike action. There will be no trams operating in Nice and many bus routes of the Lignes d’Azur network will be disrupted. Some bus services in Antibes and Sophia Antipolis are also expected to be affected.
Thick smoke has been visible in the area around Juan-les-Pins after a fire broke out in a garage this afternoon. Reports say that the fire started on the ground floor of a four storey building on rue Bricka. The fire occurred in an area close to the railway line and train services along the coast were disrupted during this evening's rush hour.
Applications for work authorization to recruit a foreign employee are moving to an online portal from 6 April, instead of being carried out in person. The new portal is intended for the use of French employers. Further details can be found on the Alpes Maritime Prefecture's website.
The municipality of Menton has donated 140 plants to Breil-sur-Roya. The plants were grown in Menton's municipal greenhouses and planted in the forecourt of the town hall, the library and the gardens of local residents to replace the plants swept away by the floods of Storm Alex last October.
Today is World Backup Day and the French government is reminding everyone to back up their data. The Interior Ministry has produced an article with tips on how to do this on the Ministry's website https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites/L-actu-du-Ministere/Sauvegarde-et-stockage-des-donnees-informatiques
Trading of shares in food delivery business Deliveroo has begun on the stock market in London today. The share price dropped significantly shortly after the opening, with the shares trading down about 30% at one stage this morning. A number of major UK investors have expressed concerns about its gig economy worker model.
Insurance market Lloyd’s of London has announced a loss of £0.9bn for 2020. It made a profit of £2.5bn in 2019. It said customer pay outs are forecast to reach £6.2bn. CEO John Neal said that 2020 was a challenging year marked by a global health crisis of a scale never seen before and was also marked by a high frequency of natural catastrophe claims and the UK's formal exit from the EU, driving further losses and uncertainty.
The UK Office for National Statistics has revised its estimate of UK GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2020 to 1.3% from the previous estimate of 1.0%. The ONS said that there is little change to their earlier estimate of UK GDP for 2020 as whole, which is now estimated to have contracted by 9.8%, slightly revised from the first estimate of a 9.9% decline.
Football... There are several European World Cup qualifying matches tonight with England playing Poland, Scotland at home to the Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland against Bulgaria. France are away at Bosnia Herzegovina.
Joe Montemurro is leaving his post as manager of the Arsenal Womens team at the end of May. He is taking a break in order to spend more time with his family.
Rugby Union...Edinburgh have been awarded four points after the Pro14 opted not to rearrange their game against Benetton. The March 7 match was postponed 24 hours before it was supposed to take place due to a positive Covid-19 case in the Benneton squad. Pro14 said that there was unanimous agreement that it was not necessary for the game to be played and four match points would be awarded to the team who had not been the cause of the postponement.