French and Riviera News Friday 13th November 2020

News

Storm Alex - The bodies of two inhabitants of the Roya valley have been identified after being discovered in Italy, bringing the toll of the exceptional floods caused by storm Alex on October 2nd to nine dead. The elderly couple had been washed away in their house in Breil-sur-Roya. Nine people are still missing according to the authorities. Storm Alex devastated parts of the Vésubie and Roya valleys, in the Nice hinterland. As colossal reconstruction of roads, bridges, water and electricity networks continue in the area, the estimated cost is thought to be at least one billion euros.

Lockdown - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced at least two more weeks of a nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The Prime Minister’s announcement came as a survey revealed on Thursday that more than half of French people have broken the regulations for the second lockdown. The poll showed that 60% had flouted the rules at least once, either by giving a false reason for going out on their self-signed permission slip or by meeting up with family and friends.

During the press conference the Prime Minister said that "massive economic support" would continue to be provided to closed businesses as the current health situation showed that the peak of hospitalizations may be reached at the beginning of next week and some easing measures might be possible from the 1st December. These measures however would be strictly limited to certain shops, with reinforced protocols. Bars, restaurants and sports halls would remain closed. He added that a travel certificate will still be necessary after the 1st December. Adding that it "wouldn't be reasonable" to hold big parties at the end of the year.

The Prime Minister said that at present one out of four deaths in France are due to Covid-19 while in recent days there has been one hospitalization with Covid-19 every 30 seconds and one admission to intensive care every three minutes. He called upon people to respect the confinement measures and said that he had asked the Minister of the Interior to increase the mobilization of the police.

Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer said that health protocols had been tightened in schools from the 2nd November. The Minister of Labour Elisabeth Bourne said that there is still room for improvement on teleworking and that "every day, every hour" of teleworking counts. A helpline has been set up for those who feel isolated due to teleworking. The number is 0800 13 00 00. She also announced an extension to unemployment insurance for those people coming to an end of their rights to such insurance.

Former Minister asks, “Do you think Charles de Gaulle would have closed small shops and bookstores”? -  Meanwhile speaking to French media former French Minister Ségolène Royal has openly criticized the government’s decision to close small shops and bookshops, questioning the decision by asking "Do you think that Charles de Gaulle would have closed small businesses and bookshops, or Jaques Chirac or Francois Mitterrand?

Ségolène Royal has made it clear that she is opposed to the closure of non-essential businesses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and has warned against the American multinational Amazon. Since October 30th nearly 200,000 businesses considered "non-essential" have had to close their doors. The former minister concluded that it seems that "there is no logic to closing small businesses yet allowing people to gather in supermarkets".

Public Health France has reservations following test carried out by consumer group UFC-Que choisir - Contrary to tests carried out by UFC-Que choisir and reports suggesting that surgical masks are machine washable (up to 10 washes at 60 degrees) and can be reused. Public Health France has expressed their reservations about the statement and reaffirmed that "surgical masks are intended for single use only".

Professor Didier Raoult – France’s National Board of Physicians has reportedly taken action against Professor Didier Raoult, director of University Hospital of Marseille, accusing him of a series of breaches of the code of ethics. The professor’s treatment against Covid-19 had initially raised immense hopes back in the spring but he is now to appear before the disciplinary chamber of the regional order in the coming months accused of having violated at least nine articles of the code of medical ethics.

In the professor's defense his lawyer said that "He did not endanger anyone" adding that “Today, we are putting Didier Raoult on trial, but he has not endangered anyone: his treatment is recognized by the international scientific community, it is prescribed routinely in Morocco, Senegal, and Mali adding that “the professor also tested everyone when, elsewhere in France, the demand was unable to be met”.

Covid-19 documentary causes controversy - Several French politicians and NGOs have severely criticized "Covid-19 Hold-up", a controversial documentary which denounces a "global conspiracy". The film released on Wednesday thanks to a crowdfunding campaign brings together a galaxy of skeptics and experts of all kinds. Their target: the measures taken against the Covid-19 crisis. The documentary, directed by former journalist Pierre Barnérias, goes as far as the final explanation of a "global conspiracy against which the pandemic is said to be the object". Barely put online, it has already been severely criticized. Several political leaders in France have condemned the "conspiracy propaganda" of the documentary. LREM MP Coralie Dubost, on Twitter wrote "this is not a documentary, it is not journalism, it is conspiratorial propaganda with a blockbuster budget. Shamefully endorsed by a few wandering politicians".

Police officer holds illegal party during lockdown - A police officer has been arrested and placed in police custody in Toulouse after organizing a party during lockdown. The officer was not only breaking current restrictions in force across France due to Covid-19 but according to reports, went on to attack officers who had been alerted by neighbouring residents due to the late-night noise. The incident occurred in the town of Saint-Jean, north of Toulouse. The officer is to appear before the criminal court in May for "violence against a person holding public authority".

Meanwhile according to reports this morning about twenty interns from Tarbes hospital in the Hautes-Pyrénées participated in a party on Tuesday evening despite the lockdown restrictions, in the residence of the Bigorre hospital center. An investigation has been opened.

Covid-19 website - The Prefect of the Var has issued a reminder that a government website exists which offers recommendations for your health and that of your loved ones in 3 minutes. The 'Mes Conseils Covid' website can be found at mesconseilscovid.sante.gouv.fr/.

The European museum night goes digital – Due to current lockdown restrictions across Europe this year’s “Night of Museums” on Saturday 14th November will be digital. The 16th edition invites the public to take part from the comfort of their sofa with virtual exhibitions, films and plays