French and Riviera News Monday 29th March 2021


Health crisis - A decisive week lies ahead for France concerning the Covid health crisis. Speaking to French media on Sunday, infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido, has said that the situation in hospitals is critical. The infectious disease specialist fears hospitals soon having to "choose which patients to treat". While the outbreak of a third wave of Covid in France worries the medical world, which calls for stricter measures, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated, in the Journal du Dimanche, that "nothing is decided" concerning possible stricter measures and the closure of schools. A defense council is to be held on Wednesday 31st March to decide on a possible toughening of the measures depending on the situation.

Incidence rate - According to Public Health France, the incidence rate has increased sharply in the Alpes-Maritimes department standing at 453 on Sunday compared to 432 on Saturday and 404 last Monday March 22nd. In the Alpes Maritimes the British variant represents 89% of contaminations. Meanwhile Strasbourg University Hospital Center has alerted the Regional Health Agency a new variant of Covid-19 in Alsace.

National figures for Covid - National figures for France published on Sunday show that nearly 4,900 patients are currently in intensive care almost reaching the peak of the second wave last November. 27,712 people are hospitalized including 1,017 new admissions in the last 24 hours. 131 patients died in hospital on Sunday from the coronavirus, compared to 194 the day before.

AstraZeneca - Meanwhile France will recover at least two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a stock of 29 million recently discovered in Italy. The doses were discovered during an inspection carried out at a site of the Swedish-British pharmaceutical group.

Spain introduces PCR Covid test at border - Spain is set to require from tomorrow Tuesday 30th March, a negative PCR Covid test taken within 72 hours for anyone crossing the land border from France. The measure affects anyone aged 7 and over and comes amid Spain ramping up Covid restrictions. Only those working in transportation and cross-border workers will be exempt, along with those who live in the border zone as long as they remain within a 30-kilometre radius of their home.

In other news 

Climate change - Thousands of people have demonstrated across France to demand "real climate legislation". Some 180 demonstrations took place in several cities ahead of a meeting by parliament to discuss a legal text to tackle climate change. The law to be discussed by parliament aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

Air France - Air France employees have demonstrated against the closure of bases in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. The group's management confirmed that it was studying "the closure of its provincial bases for its flight personnel as part of the restructuring of its domestic network". 80 Air France employees demonstrated on Sunday March 28th at Marseille-Provence airport (Bouches-du-Rhône) against the management's plan to close the bases in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. Both the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi and local MP Eric Ciotti have criticised the move indicating their intention to “defend the employees and avoid closure”. The Air France group lost 7.1 billion euros in 2020 due to the Covid crisis with a collapse of 59% of its turnover compared to 2019.

Village evacuated due to fire - The village of Saumane, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, has been completely evacuated due to a fire. The fire started around 2pm on Sunday in two agricultural sheds. The hangars house toxic products leading to the village being completely evacuated, including a flock of sheep. 65 firefighters were at the scene.

Prefect calls on an end to non-essential good being sold outside of shops - The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has reportedly called on an end to allowing non-essential shops to sell their goods in front of their stores. Last week several town council’s including Cannes, Antibes and Menton, authorized local “non-essential” businesses to offer their services and goods directly in front of their shop.

Cultural programme - The City of Nice has launched a call for projects for its artistic and cultural programme for the summer of 2021. It is inviting local artists, associations and professionals in the event, entertainment, culture and heritage areas to present projects and activities that will be held in the city's public spaces. They will be offered to the public free of charge, but funding will be granted by the City of Nice for successful projects. The call for applications is open until midnight on April 25th.