French and Riviera News Thursday 22nd April 2021


Prime Minister to hold press conference on lifting of restrictions - French Prime Minister Jean Castex is to hold a press conference this evening at 6pm to outline the gradual lifting of restrictions as planned by the government for mid-May. As elementary schools return on Monday 26th April, the lifting of the 10km travel limit along with the required attestation will coincide with the reopening of secondary schools on May 3rd. Concerning the 7pm curfew, this is expected to remain in place and could be pushed back gradually depending on the health situation in the coming weeks. The Head of State for example, plans a later curfew of 9pm to coincide with the possible reopening of terraces and cultural places in mid-May.

Concerns over health protocol in schools - Several teaching unions have aired their concerns on the return to school insisting on a stricter health protocol. Despite government plans a majority of teachers will return to the classroom having not yet received the vaccine against Covid, as teachers over 55 years old represents only 17% of teaching staff in France. The rule of closing a class after one contamination case of Covid is also surrounded by controversy as the measure could lead to an influx of classes being closed. The measure had been in place ahead of a national lockdown for areas of France severely affected by the pandemic while for others it stood at three cases. There is also the difficulty in identifying a case of Covid due to the lack of testing in schools on both teachers and students. Before the lockdown 300,000 weekly saliva tests were carried out on students and teachers the French government says it hopes to increase this number to a million.

Health authorities warn that pressure is still high in hospitals - Meanwhile health authorities in France have warned that while Covid numbers seem to be stablising, the pressure in hospitals is still high, especially in intensive care units, calling for “caution” as restrictions are lifted.

Regional figures for Covid - In the Alpes Maritimes region, the signs are reassuring despite an ever-present pressure in intensive care. The regional Health Agency announced two additional deaths on Wednesday April 21st. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus has killed 1,884 (446 in nursing homes, 1,438 in hospitals).

Hospital indicators are still high but falling. There are currently 259 patients hospitalized for coronavirus and according to the ARS, the incidence rate - which corresponds to the number of people tested positive over seven days and reported to 100,000 inhabitants - is 203 which is still below the regional average of 378 and the national average of 337.

Monaco – In Monaco on Wednesday nine new cases of Covid were identified bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,422. Eleven people are currently in hospital and 43 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre. Meanwhile some restrictions will be lifted from next Monday in Monaco when restaurants will be allowed to reopen for dinner service, sports activities will resume in schools, and the evening curfew will be pushed back to 9pm.

Vaccination - Vaccination using the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will begin "from Saturday" April 24th, following an announcement from the government spokesman Gabriel Attal. The roll out of this vaccine in Europe had been delayed after the emergence of severe cases of blood clots in the United States. Its use will be reserved for over 55s. The European Medicines Agency this week issued an opinion in favour of using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, estimating that the benefit-risk ratio of the vaccine was "positive". On Tuesday the health ministry announced that in France, a quarter of the population has received at least one injection of a vaccine against Covid-19. Among these 13 million people, 4.8 million have received two injections.

Vaccination in the Var - This weekend a new vaccination campaign is being carried out in the Var to vaccinate priority workers aged 55 and over with AstraZeneca. The Zenith in Toulon will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Priority workers: Teachers of schools, colleges and high schools / ATSEM (regional agents specializing in nursery schools) / AESH (accompanying persons with disabilities) / Early childhood professionals - including childminders / Professionals in the legal protection of young people and professionals in the protection of children / National and municipal police / Gendarmes and prison wardens / Bus, ferry and river shuttle drivers / Short-distance drivers and deliverers / Road drivers / Taxi drivers / VTC drivers / Public transport controllers / Maintenance, cleaning, waste collection, waste sorting center, security / Food stores (self-service employee cashiers, food vendors including butchers, pork