Lunchtime News Thursday 1st April 2021


French schools to close - French schools will close for at least three weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising Covid cases. On Wednesday March 31st, French President Emmanuel Macron said that schools would move to remote learning from next week. Lockdown measures, introduced in some areas of France earlier this month, are also being extended to other districts.

All non-essential shops are to close from Saturday and there will be a ban on travelling more than 10km from home without a good reason. The country is facing a peak of over 5,000 people in intensive care.

On Wednesday, France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran reported 59,038 new cases. France has so far reported more than 4.6 million cases of coronavirus and 95,495 Covid-related deaths.

French Prime Minister defends Macron’s announcement giving details in parliament on certain measures - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has spoken before the French parliament this morning, defending the measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron and specifying certain measures put in place.

  • The decision to extend measures to the whole of France will override regional measures which were in place.
  • The curfew remains from 7pm to 6am (nationally)
  • Teleworking is enforced for a minimum of four days a week.
  • Outings beyond 10km must be on presentation of a certificate.
  • Gatherings of more than six people are prohibited, as is the consumption of alcohol in public spaces. Note that inter-regional travel is now prohibited, except for compelling reasons as stipulated on the “attestation” (although the President did say that it would still be tolerated over the Easter weekend for those wishing to isolate somewhere else).
  • From next week, all schools will close and introduce remote lessons with all zones A, B and C being merged for the Easter holiday from April 12th April 25th.
  • To help families to cope with the difficulties caused by the closure of school canteens, the government has promised that it will help "poor families whose children will no longer go to the canteen or will no longer be able to benefit from free breakfasts". The modalities of this implementation will be specified "in the coming days".
  • The government has announced that to allow parents to look after their children, a partial activity system will be put in place. It will simply be necessary "to report to your employer", explained Jean Castex.
  • The higher education exams planned for the next four weeks "will be maintained" and their organizational conditions "adapted", Jean Castex told the National Assembly. Exams that cannot be done remotely will, on the other hand, be "postponed as much as possible", next May.
  • The vaccination campaign will accelerate with the imminent arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose, helping to speed up the vaccination in France. In addition to deliveries from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, the Janssen laboratory should deliver 500,000 doses to France in April and 2 million in May. With these deliveries, the government hopes to reach 30 million French people vaccinated next June.
  • While Emmanuel Macron mentioned a reopening of certain cultural establishment and terraces under certain conditions, in mid-May, Jean Castex himself, did not commit to this. According to him, "the reopening will take place when sanitary conditions are met" and specified that they will be presented to Parliament "when the time comes".

Number of closed businesses in France to increase from 90,000 to 150,000 due to extension of restrictions across France - According to France’s Minister of Finance Bruno le Maire, the extension of the closures of certain businesses in the whole of France announced on Wednesday March 31st by Emmanuel Macron, will increase the number of closed businesses from 90,000 to 150,000, while the total cost of aid and compensation to businesses will now amount to 11 billion euros per month. This figure includes the total cost of the solidarity fund, partial unemployment and exemptions from social contributions, including for establishments that remain open, but are strongly affected by the crisis linked to Covid-19.

The government has repeatedly adjusted the system of partial compensation for loss of turnover by the solidarity fund, and this year added partial coverage of fixed costs. The Head of State is also considering the possibility of allowing traders to liquidate their stocks outside the sales period and financial compensation for unsold stocks. Partial activity allows the employee who is not working to receive 84% of his net salary, the employer having a remaining charge of 15%, except in the sectors most affected by the crisis.

Health situation in the Alpes Maritimes - The Regional Health Agency (Public Health France) for the Alpes Maritimes has reported 4 new hospital deaths linked to Covid-19 on Wednesday, March 31. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus has killed 1,783 people (443 in nursing homes, 1,310 in ho