Evening Update Wednesday 9 February 2022

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said that there are "reasons to hope" that the requirement for a vaccination pass may be lifted at the end of March or beginning of April. Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting today, he said that the improvement in the health situation "is confirmed" and the government is on track to lift the final health restrictions as planned. He said that a decision about changes in the health protocol in schools is expected by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, the head of the government's vaccine strategy council, Professor Alain Fischer, said today that "we need a reduced incidence rate (10 or 20 times less than today) and the hospital overload to have disappeared...we should get there by the end of March-beginning of April." He said that he is currently not in favour of a fourth dose of vaccine.

Convoys of vehicles have left our region today heading for Paris where a protest against Covid-19 restrictions is planned. Similar protests have been taking place in Canada recently where truckers have converged on the capital city, Ottowa. A state of emergency has been declared in the city because of the number of vehicles which have congregated in Ottowa. So-called "freedom convoys" have gathered in other countries such the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand. In France, vehicles from across the country are planning to converge on Paris for a blockade this weekend. One of the convoys left Nice this morning. Commenting on the convoys during today's press briefing, Gabriel Attal said that he understood what he called "the weariness of the French" in the face of Covid-19 restrictions but added that he thought political movements had sought to capitalise on such weariness and fatigue. Protesters have used social media to organize the convoys.

A serious fire broke out this morning at a banknote printing facility of the French central bank. The blaze at the Banque de France works in the Puy-de-Dome department reportedly started in a banknote design laboratory. The fire was brought under control by midday and there were no injuries.

All burning of plants has been prohibited in the Alpes Maritimes until February 20 inclusive due to the current dry weather conditions. The Prefecture added that the ban may be extended beyond this date if the weather conditions so require. Meanwhile, the Var Prefecture has called for efficient water management in the department. Meteo France have said that the start of 2022 is very dry, especially in the Southeast where some regions have not had a single day of rain since the beginning of the year.

The Monaco government has introduced new regulations regarding the use of drones. The new  regulatory framework, which has been in effect since February 6, has reinforced an initial low altitude airspace management system which was introduced in 2019 . The new regulations aim to ensure better management of Monegasque airspace while adjusting national regulations to the technological developments in the aeronautics sector.



A parliamentary committee has said that UK businesses have been hit by increased costs, paperwork and border delays as a result of Brexit. The Public Accounts Committee said it was "clear" that leaving the EU was having an impact on UK trade volumes and it warned that the situation could be worse this year as new import controls are introduced.

Meanwhile, Germany's statistics office Destatis has reported that imports from the UK fell last year, meaning that the UK is no longer in Germany's top five trading partners.

A new survey has found that consumer confidence in Britain has fallen. The survey by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research said that the expectation of households' financial situation twelve months from now has fallen to its lowest level since October 2013.



Motorsports... Lando Norris has signed a new contract to stay at McLaren until the end of 2025. Norris said he had made the decision despite approaches from other teams and added that the signing of a new contract was "a very strong message" about his faith in McLaren's potential.

Football... There are 4 games in the English Premier League tonight. Manchester City play Brentford, Norwich host Crystal Palace, Spurs play Southampton and Aston Villa play Leeds.

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