Here we go again – 21 million people in France will be hit be another lockdown from midnight tonight in the fight against Covid in France. Sixteen departments are concerned including the Alpes Maritimes. France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex claims that the health situation in France has deteriorated, especially in the regions concerned, with the “third wave being mainly due to the rise in the circulation of variants”.
The lockdown for the île de France, Haut de France, Alpes Maritimes, Eure and the Seine-Maritime is in place for at least four weeks and is similar to that of last March and November however the government consider it to be “more flexible” with “no limit on the time spent outdoors” between 6am and 7pm”. Other regions of France are being closely monitored with possible restrictions being announced in the coming days. The national curfew from 6pm to 6am will change from tomorrow Saturday 20th March to 7pm to 6am.
In the Alpes Maritimes from tomorrow Saturday 20th March you can circulate freely from 6am to 7pm on the condition that you have filled in the form the “attestation” and ticked one of the reasons for being outdoors:
- Medical reason
- Assisting someone in need
- Child care
- Physical activity / going for a walk
- Walking your pet
Physical activity or going for a walk for example is limited to a radius of 10km from your home. And travel between regions as well as international is prohibited unless you have a compelling reason as stipulated on the “attestation”.
All non-essential shops will be closed such as clothes stores, shoe shops, hairdressers and toy shops. Food stores will remain open but shelves selling products from other outlets which have been forced to close will be blocked off to shoppers. Bookshops and record stores are this time round considered essential and remain open.
Schools will remain open and all high schools will be obliged to respect a rotation of students, as is the case in some high schools already, with one day on, one day off. Universities remain unchanged.
Working from home is necessary when possible. Employees are asked to work from home for at least four out of the five working days.
Cost of return to lockdown – France’s Finance Minister Bruno le Maire has said that measures to support the economic sectors affected by the lockdown of 16 departments will cost an additional 1.2 billion euros per month adding that "the impact of the new health restrictions on the French economy is 0.2% of the annual GDP.
AstraZeneca - Following a re-examination by the European medicines watchdog, the controversial AstraZeneca treatment, suspended in many countries because of an apparent link to irregular blood-clotting, has been cleared as safe to use. Reporting that the number of cases of adverse side effects was inferior to the number of blood-clot complications in the general population, the EMA said all EU member states now have the necessary information to make their individual decisions. The agency says its findings are clear and scientific: the vaccine is safe.
Prime Minister is to be vaccinated this afternoon - France will resume using the AstraZeneca vaccination from today with the Prime Minister “setting the example” by being vaccinated with AstraZeneca this afternoon. The objective from the French government on the vaccination campaign in France is to have at least 10 million people vaccinated by mid-April 20 million by mid-May and finally 30 million by mid-June.
Prime Minister cancels visit to Nice – Meanwhile the Prime Minister Jean Castex who was due to come to Nice today has cancelled his visit due to the health situation in the region. Castex was expected in Nice to sign the implementation of the recovery plan for the Nice Côte d'Azur metropolis. He was also to visit the Nikaia vaccination centre before participating in a round table with local elected officials. In agreement with the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi and in view of the health crisis they decided to postpone the Prime Minister's trip.
Meanwhile following the announcement of a return to lockdown by the Prime Minister, Estrosi has called on the government to cancel the four-week lockdown if the incidence rate of the virus in the department drops below 400 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Jean Castex has reportedly taken note of this request.
Covid figures – According to figures published on Thursday evening the health situation continues to deteriorate with, in the last 24 hours, 34,998 new confirmed cases and 268 additional deaths in hospital. In addition, the number of patients in intensive care continues to increase, to 4,246. The pandemic has killed at least 2,682,032 worldwide since the start of the pandemic, according to an AFP report from official sources this Thursday at 11:00 GMT. The United States is the country with the most deaths (538,093), followed by Brazil (284,775), Mexico (195,908), India (159,216) and the United Kingdom (125,831).
Monaco - Monaco has announced the extension of current coronavirus measures until the 2nd April. The measures had been due to expire today at midnight. The curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. will therefore remain in force for two additional weeks. The same applies to the rules relating to consumption in catering establishments at lunchtime - access is reserved for residents, employees and schools of the Principality, reservations are required, the number of guests is limited to 6 people per table and service can only take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The compulsory use of teleworking in the private and public sectors remains in force. On Thursday Monaco identified 8 new cases of Covid bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,149. 47 people are currently in hospital and 73 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.
Self-tests for Covid - Following the green light from the Haute Autorité de Santé, Covid-19 self-testing kits will be available from this weekend in France on the shelves of certain large distribution brands, such as Carrefour. The group announced that it had ordered a million to meet demand. In Germany, these anti-Covid home tests have been very successful since they went on sale.
In other news
Jobseekers - The Alpes-Maritimes Prefecture has reminded jobseekers that an online recruitment fair is taking place until 26th March. Vacancies are listed not only for the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var but also for many other areas of France. More details here.
Shuttle service - A new electric shuttle bus service has been launched in Nice. The bus will run every 15 minutes along a 3.8km route from boulevards Victor Hugo and Dubouchage to the seaside and takes in Boulevard Gambetta, the old town and Place Massena. Journeys are free of charge and the shuttle will operate Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. It's planned to extend operating hours after the curfew is lifted if there's sufficient demand.
Dolphin rescued - A dolphin has been rescued in Toulon. The dolphin had found its way into the docks at the naval base and had become disorientated. Divers from the Maritime Gendarmerie escorted it safely out into the open sea.
Oil prices have fallen by 8 percent this week although there has been a slight pick-up in Asian trade this morning. The market has been spooked by a fresh wave of coronavirus infections in Europe dampening hopes of a quick recovery in fuel demand. Prices plunged by 7 percent on Thursday amid concerns over slowing vaccination programmes across Europe and the market becoming increasingly nervous as some European nations impose Covid-19 related restrictions again. Brent crude was trading up 0.3 percent a little earlier at 63 dollars 46 with West Texas Intermediate at 60 dollars 10 cents. Rising coronavirus cases in Brazil have also affected sentiment while a stronger US dollar is also putting pressure on prices.
The luxury sportscar maker Lamborghini had its most profitable year ever in 2020 despite a two month shutdown at its Italian factory. While sales were slightly lower than in 2019, the firm sold more expensive and customised supercars which pushed profits higher. China has been fueling a lot of the demand and is set to overtake Germany as the firm’s second biggest market this year. Lamborghini’s new SUV, the Urus is also proving to be popular and accounted for 59 percent of worldwide sales in 2020. Chinese car buyers have been developing a taste for ultra-luxury SUVs with Rolls Royce, Bentley and now Lamborghini all doing well in the market. The firm sold 7,430 cars last year.
Ford has said that it will be assembling its flagship F-150 pickup trucks and Edge SUVs without some parts in North America and will idle two plants because of the worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips. The firm says that the shortage is forcing it to assemble the vehicles and then hold them for a number of weeks until they can be completed and shipped to showrooms. Ford is also to idle two plants in Kentucky and Germany. Last month, the firm cut shifts at two plants that build the F-150 trucks. Nissan has also cut production at plants in Tennessee, Mississippi and in Mexico owning to a shortage of chips.
Football - It was a mixed night for the British clubs in the Europa League last night. Arsenal are through to the quarter finals despite losing 1-0 at home to Olympiakos on the night at the Emirates but they took the round of 16 tie 3-2 on aggregate. Manchester United were 1-0 winners at AC Milan and take the tie 2-1 on aggregate. Spurs are out after a disastrous 3-0 away defeat at Dinamo Zagreb which means they lost 3-2 on aggregate and Rangers are also out after losing 2-0 at home to Slavia Prague with the Czech side taking the tie 3-1 on aggregate.
In the English Premier League this weekend, Fulham play Leeds tonight. On Saturday, Brighton play Newcastle and on Sunday West Ham play Arsenal and Aston Villa host Spurs.
It’s FA Cup quarter final weekend in England. Bournemouth play Southampton and Everton play Manchester City on Saturday while on Sunday Chelsea play Sheffield United and Leicester play Manchester United.
Rugby Union - It’s the final round of the 6 Nations Championship - well not quite as France still have their postponed game against Scotland to come. Wales can however secure the Grand Slam to add to the Triple Crown if they can beat France in Paris tomorrow. Kick off is at 9pm tomorrow. Scotland play Italy at 3.15 and Ireland host England in Dublin at 5.45. The France v Scotland game will be played on Friday the 26th March.
There’s one game in the Gallagher Premiership tonight. Newcastle play Wasps while in the Guinness Pro 14 Munster play Benetton. Leinster host Ospreys and Ulster play Zebre.
Cricket - The T20 series between India and England will be decided in the final match after India won the 4th game by 8 runs in Ahmedabad on Thursday. India batted first and made a challenging 185-8 from their 20 overs with England only managing to reach 177-8 in reply. The final match is being played tomorrow.
Racing - Flooring Porter won the feature race at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday with victory in the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle but the day belonged to Rachael Blackmore again. The trailblazing female jockey scooped a double with victory on board Allaho in the Ryanair Chase and then following it up by winning the Mare’s Novice Hurdle with Telmesomethinggirl. She’s now on course to end the Festival as top jockey and is two clear of her nearest riding rival. It’s Gold Cup day today with the big race off at five past four French time. Rachael Blackmore partners A Plus Tard but Al Boum Photo is bidding to become the first horse to win the race three times since Arkle in the 1960s. Al Boum Photo is 5-2 favourite with A Plus Tard at 9-2. Champ is at 4-1 with Royale Pagaille at 7-1. There’s some money too for Santini and Minella Indo at 10-1 with Frodon and Kemboy at 12s and Native River at 14-1.
Partially cloudy with moderate to strong easterly winds. Top temperature 13 degrees. Overnight lows of 4-7 degrees with clear skies.
The weekend - Mainly fine with highs of 12-14 degrees.