French and Riviera News Thursday 18th March 2021


Health situation is “critical” according to Head of State - French President Emmanuel Macron has called the health situation in France “critical”. Speaking after Wednesday’s defence council the Head of State said that “additional measures” would be taken to tackle the spread of Covid. New measures are to be announced in this evening’s press conference at 6pm.

President of the PACA region against lockdown measures - Meanwhile ahead of this evening’s announcements the president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier, has reaffirmed his opposition to lockdown measures saying that "no additional measure is justified for the region". Muselier went on to say that the "incidence rate  is stable in the departments of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hautes-Alpes, Var and Vaucluse, standing at between 220 and 330 depending on the region” adding that “in the Alpes-Maritimes, which has undergone 3 consecutive weekends of lockdown the incidence rate has dropped from 650 to 450 " concluding that “it will be necessary to lift the partial lockdown in the Alpes-Maritimes, as soon as the mapping of wastewater increases".

Covid figures - Figures for Covid from Public Health France on Wednesday showed that more than 38,000 cases of Covid were declared between Tuesday and Wednesday, a figure similar to those in November during the second wave. On the other hand, the pressure on the intensive care units has decreased very slightly, with 20 patients less than the day before. In total, 4,219 patients were in intensive care in hospitals on Wednesday. More than a quarter of these intensive care patients (1,161) are hospitalized in the Ile-de-France region. In the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur 513 patients are currently in intensive care. The Covid-19 pandemic has killed 246 in hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 91,437.

Monaco – Six new cases of Covid were identified in Monaco on Wednesday bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,141. Forty-eight people are currently in hospital and 81 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Vaccinations - Vaccinations continue to progress, despite the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday 15th March, pending a review by the European Medicines Agency of possible adverse effects associated with the vaccine. A total of 5,585,537 people have received at least one injection and 2,349,027 have received both doses. Meanwhile the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to restrict vaccine exports to countries not allowing reciprocal exports to the EU. She said that the EU had exported 10 million doses to the UK in the past 6 weeks, but the bloc is still waiting for doses from the UK.

Travel within the EU this summer - Meanwhile the European Commission has presented a proposal that would allow those from the EU vaccinated or not – to travel freely across the 27-nation member states by the summer. The plan, announced on Wednesday, is due to be discussed next week during a summit of EU leaders and foresees the creation of vaccine certificates aimed at facilitating travel within the EU. 

The topic is seen to be somewhat divisive with several member states, including France, arguing that it would be premature and discriminatory to introduce such passes as a large majority of EU citizens have not yet had access to vaccines.

In other news

Final vote on age of sexual consent - The French Senate is to take a final vote next week on a bill that would set the age of sexual consent at 15. Any sexual act below that age would be considered non-consensual and a criminal offence. Jail terms for convictions of incest would be raised to 18 years. The legislation also hopes to avoid incriminating legitimate links forged on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood. A so-called “Romeo & Juliet” clause adds a proviso that penalties only apply if "the age difference between the adult and the minor (under 15) is at least five years".

Bitcoin - The French government has auctioned off millions of euros worth of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin on Wednesday which were seized from hackers in 2019. The auction was held on behalf of the French Agency for the Recovery and Management of Seized and Confiscated Assets, a first of its kind in France. The tokens were seized from individuals linked to the GateHub trading platform hack.

Thomas Pesquet appointed commander of the International Space Station - PACA Region President Renauld Muselier has congratulated astronaut Thomas Pesquet on his appointment as commander of the International Space station saying that it's "a source of great pride for our entire country". The 43-year-old is the fourth European and the first French person to be appointed to the role.

“Courtesy at the Wheel” week - It's "Courtesy at T