Three additional regions of France to go into lockdown from midnight tonight - New lockdown measures similar to those already in place in 16 departments of France since last Saturday, are to come into force from midnight tonight in the Rhône, Nièvre and Aube. Speaking during Thursday’s press conference Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the health situation was “accelerating in France” and hospitals in certain regions are under immense pressure. The minister concluded that it is “too soon to ease measures and too late, to not do anything”.
Schools are to remain open - The government is still determined to keep schools open, saying that the health protocol will be stepped up. 2,962 classes and 105 schools are currently closed in France, up by 30% in one week. Meanwhile teaching unions in the Ile-de-France region have called for strike action due to the current situation in schools.
National Covid figures - As far as the figures for Covid published on Thursday are concerned, 27,036 patients are currently hospitalised, including 4,709 in intensive care. 228 people have died in hospital in 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in France to 93,378 since the start of the pandemic. In addition, 45,641 new cases of Covid have been identified in the past 24 hours.
Covid figures for the Alpes Maritimes and the Var – Figures in the Alpes Matitimes and the Var show that 7 new deaths from Covid have been declared in in hospitals in the Alpes-Maritimes on Thursday. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus has killed 1,714 people in the department (1,271 in hospitals, 443 in nursing homes). According to Covidtracker, the incidence rate - which corresponds to the number of people tested positive over seven days and reported to 100,000 inhabitants - is 409 this Thursday, March 25th and has increased slightly since Wednesday when it stood at 404.
And in the Var 11 new deaths linked to Covid were reported on Thursday, March 25th in hospitals. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus has killed 1,556 people in the department (428 in nursing homes, 1,128 in hospitals). According to Covid Tracker, the incidence rate - which corresponds to the number of people tested positive over seven days and reported to 100,000 inhabitants - is 352 as of March 25th.
Covid figures for Monaco – 17 new cases of Covid were identified on Thursday March 25th bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,227 since the start of the pandemic. 34 people are currently hospitalised and 81 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.
French President defends decision to not have introduced a lockdown in January - Meanwhile speaking on Thursday evening, the French President Emmanuel Macron, has said that he was "right not to return to lockdown at the end of January, refusing any "mea culpa". The Head of State also said that "by the end of the summer all French people who wish to be vaccinated will have been”. A recent study carried out by OpinionWay has shown that 57% of French people intend to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Norman version of the “attestation” - If you thought that the attestation forms were complicated enough, in the Seine-Maritime and the Eure, they have issued the certificate (Acertainement dérogatouère pouor se déhalaer) in the regional language and it’s completely legal. The Normandy Regional Council announced the posting of a Norman-language version of the attestation on Tuesday.
The Eure and Seine-Maritime are among the 16 departments under stricter health measures put in place on Friday March 19th and the document can be downloaded from the region's website. The Normandy Regional Council has welcomed the move adding that "the health situation should not make us forget the culture and history of our region as well as add a little humour”.
In other news
Climate - More than 200 French politicians have demanded "a real law" for climate. The "climate and resilience" bill is to be examined in the National Assembly from March 29th. Meanwhile, 220 political figures have criticised the text saying that it is not up to the urgency and are calling for "a true climate law".
Nearly 3,500 air pollution related deaths have been prevented in France - According to a study by the Energy and Clean Air Research Center published today, in France, nearly 3,500 air pollution-related deaths have been prevented in 2020. The study concludes that in Europe 38,000 deaths linked to air pollution have been prevented in 2020 mainly due to health measures linked to Covid.
SNCF - The SNCF has announced plans to reduce the number of TGVs in circulation from Monday 29th March. The move should allow the company to adapt to the drop in passengers, which has again fallen with the measures to curb the epidemic put in place in several regions of France.
French film director dies - The internationally celebrated French film director Bertrand Tavernier has died aged 79. His most famous films include The Clockmaker (1974), Round Midnight (1986) and Life and Nothing But (1989). Born in Lyon in 1941 Tavernier headed the Institut Lumière, named after the brothers who invented cinema. Tavernier was also a screenwriter, actor and producer.
Vincent Van Gough - Estimated at between five and eight million euros, a privately owned painting by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh which had never appeared in public since its acquisition in 1920 by a French family has sold for 13 million euros. It was one of the rare paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in private hands. The painting Street scene in Montmartre, painted during the artist's stay in Paris, sold at Sotheby's in Paris on Thursday.
Nice-Cannes Marathon - Registrations for the Nice-Cannes marathon are now open. The event which was cancelled last year due to the health crisis is set to take place on November 28th starting on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Purchasing power - Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has said that, in order to preserve the purchasing power of the people of Nice, municipal tax rates will be maintained after several years of consecutive property tax cuts. However, he said that Nice will still be amongst the major cities in France with the lowest property tax.
Monaco twins with Dolceacqua - The Monaco Municipal Council has unanimously approved twinning with the Italian municipality of Dolceacqua. The principles and objectives of this twinning will be the subject of a charter which must be approved by the Municipal Council of each of the municipalities, which is the final step before the celebration of the twinning. Monaco has also been twinned with the Corsican town of Lucciana since 2009 and the Belgian city of Ostend since 1958.
“I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice-cream” - Faced with an unprecedented health crisis, it would appear that the French have sought comfort in sweet desserts and in particular in ice creams, which last year saw 171,000 tonnes sold. Like cheese, another “comfort” product for the French according to figures from the Association of Ice Cream Companies, carried out by the Nielsen firm, the ice cream sector experienced revenue growth of 10.3% to 1.26 billion euros. This represents 171.8 million kilos of ice-cream sold in 2020. In total, more than 24 million households have consumed ice cream, an additional 440,000 buyers compared to 2019.
The stranded mega container-ship in the Suez Canal is holding up an estimated $9.6 billion of goods each day, according to shipping data. The figure translates to $400 million an hour in trade along the waterway which is a vital passageway between east and west. Data from shipping expert Lloyd’s List values the Canal’s westbound traffic at roughly $5.1 billion a day and eastbound traffic at around 4 1/2 billion. Experts say it could take weeks to remove the ship. The Ever Given which is operated by the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine is the length of four football pitches and one of the world’s biggest container vessels. The 200,000 tonne ship is capable of carrying 20,000 containers and its blockage is causing huge tailbacks of other ships trying to pass through the Suez Canal.
Meanwhile, oil price bounced back on concerns that the Suez Canal blockage may affect the vital shipping lane for weeks, squeezing supply. Prices are however still heading for a third consecutive weekly loss. Brent crude was up by 43 cents a little earlier this morning at $62.38 with West Texas intermediate up 49 cents at $59.05. Both benchmarks are on track for a weekly loss of more than 3% following a more than 6% decline last week. Analysts say that expectations that the Suez Canal blockage may last for weeks have raised fears of supply tightness in markets.
The German insurer Allianz is close to a €2.5 billion deal to buy Aviva’s Polish unit, trumping rival bids from Italy’s Generali and the Dutch insurer NN. Allianz is said to be close to entering exclusive talks with Aviva and the deal could be announced as soon as today. A spokesperson for Aviva confirmed that the British insurer was exploring options for its Polish business. Allianz and Generali have declined to comment while NN also refused to make a statement. Aviva is the second largest life insurer in Poland after the state owned PZU and the 10th biggest provider of general insurance in the country.
Formula One - First practice for the opening Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain takes place at 12:30 lunchtime today. The early signs are that Red Bull may take the challenge to Mercedes this season with Lewis Hamilton saying that the team does not have the fastest car on the track. Hamilton is bidding for a record eighth drivers’ championship this season which would see him eclipse Michael Schumacher. Mercedes may face an increased challenge from Red Bull and Max Verstappen in particular. Second practice is at 4 pm with qualifying at 4 pm on Saturday and the race at 5 pm on Sunday.
Football – European qualifying for next year’s World Cup has been continuing with several games last night. England got their campaign underway with a five nil thrashing of San Marino while Scotland drew 2-2 with Austria. Northern Ireland went down two nil in Italy while Germany beat Iceland three nil and Spain and Greece drew 1-1.
Cricket – England captain Eoin Morgan has been ruled out of the final to one-day international in India with a hand injury. Morgan split the webbing between his thumb and index finger in the first ODI on Tuesday. Batsmen Sam Billings is also out of today’s match with a collar bone injury. England need to win today’s second match to keep the series alive. Play in Pune starts at 9 am French time.
West Indies batted out day 5 to draw the first Test against Sri Lanka in Antigua. The tourists couldn’t dismiss the home side in their second innings as they chased an unlikely victory. West Indies ended on 236-4 with Bonner scoring a maiden century to help keep the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay.
Rugby Union – France will attempt to overhaul Wales to win the Six Nations Championship when they face Scotland in Paris tonight. France will need a big score and bonus points if they are to win the Championship while Scotland know that if they win by at least eight they’ll finish second in the table. The match at the Stade de France kicks off at 9 pm.
Golf – Rory McIlroy has kept his hopes in the WGC matchplay alive with victory over Lanto Griffin in Texas. McIlroy won by 4&3 and now needs to beat Cameron Smith if he’s to make the knockout phase. Ian Poulter is best placed to win group 11 after he beat Cameron Smith on Thursday.
Partially cloudy with light variable winds. Top temperature 15-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 10 degrees with cloudy skies.
The weekend - Partially cloudy. Highs of 15-17 degrees.