Lunchtime news update Monday 27th April 2020

Holiday vouchers for frontline workers - The Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region has announced the distribution of holiday vouchers for people who worked in contact with the public during confinement, in order to help tourism professionals in the region.

With a value of 500 euros, the “holiday checkbook” will be allocated to private sector employees domiciled in the region and benefiting from a family allowance not exceeding 700 euros. It is aimed at people who worked in direct contact with the public during the confinement period, such as delivery services, cashiers, caregivers and shop employees. The vouchers may be used for accommodation, catering and leisure services between the reopening of establishments and the end of the year.

The vouchers must be used exclusively in the region. The estimated cost of the project is 10 million euros of which 4 million will be financed by the department and the region.

Visit var has already launched an operation to support "the Var heroes".

The objective is to place the region at the top of French destinations after confinement. According to the region, this project constitutes the largest campaign ever carried out in France for the promotion of the three destinations Provence, Alpes and the Côte d´Azur.

Mayor of Nice announces new measures for private beaches - The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has announced plans to expand private beaches in order to compensate for the loss of business due to the coronavirus.

While a date has not yet been announced for the reopening of restaurants, bars and beaches in the region, a series of measures have been announced including  the following; a one-year extension for beach owners which has just been renewed, an exemption from “occupancy taxes” in the maritime sector and finally the expansion of their establishment, gaining an additional 15 meters to install deckchairs and parasols while keeping a strict social distance.

The recent announcement has seen strong opposition from local left-wing MPs.

Masks in Monaco - The distribution of masks in Monaco has been outlined firstly for residents: the town hall is distributing cloth masks. The operation has already started for people over 65 and is continuing by La Poste until Thursday 30th April. 

For employees: employers will be responsible for obtaining supplies from the State, at the rate of two masks per day per employee. They are sold at cost price (€ 1 excluding tax). Orders can be made online at

In Monaco pharmacies, masks are now sold at controlled prices, which cannot exceed € 2.50 for surgical masks and € 7.50 for FFP2 masks.  Pharmacies also sell cloth masks, washable 40 times, for less than 13 euros. 

French Grand Prix officially cancelled - The decision has been made official, France’s Formula One Grand Prix which was to take place from June 26th to 28th at Le Castellet, in the Var, is cancelled. Both holding a closed-door race or postponement have been ruled out.

For all ticket holders for the Grand Prix de France 2020, the reimbursement methods will be specified shortly on the website

Digital assistant - A digital assistant has been launched in France. From today people can contact AlloCovid on 0806 800 540 to check whether their health profile or condition is a cause for concern.

The digital assistant can "detect the signs of severity of the virus, as well as vulnerable patients requiring special attention,"

The service is there to inform and ensure real-time monitoring of the epidemic seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

Surveillance tools must be available for May 11th - The president of the French Scientific Council has called for "all surveillance tools" for the coronavirus will be needed for May 11th.

While Jean-François Delfraissy salutes the effects of confinement saying, “it has limited the number of cases in intensive care and reduced the speed of circulation of the virus”.  He adds that "At the time of deconfinement, the virus will continue to circulate, and the necessary surveillance tools must be in place”.

Scientific Council warns that the decision to reopen schools is a “political decision” - Meanwhile the French Government’s Scientific Council has underlined that sending children back to school from May 11th is a "political decision", recalling that it proposed to wait until September.

For teachers' unions, this political decision is "irresponsible, dangerous and impossible". The divergence displayed between the government and the scientists only reinforces the feeling of "insecurity" amongst teachers less than two weeks before the start of the May 11th school year.

According to the first national education union, "the date of May 11th is largely premature in view of the current capacity to control health risk displayed by the ministry".

The Scientific Council - which has taken note of the government's “political decision” - has drawn up a list of distancing rules which will have to be introduced in educational establishments, in particular ensuring that the class tables are spaced apart by a metre and that the pupils are only in contact with their classmates.

First test to measure immunity to coronavirus - A French laboratory has developed the first test to measure immunity to coronavirus. Unlike other blood tests, it provides information on the effectiveness of the antibodies produced by a person who contracted Covid-19.  The test classifies the degrees of immunity into three categories: strong neutralizing, weak and non-neutralizing.

This is a "fundamental step" as until now, many scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO) have wondered about the known effectiveness of the antibodies produced by a person who has contracted the virus.

Once the green light is given by the High Authority for Health, it will be possible to be tested waiting two days for results.

Study shows higher mortality rate than suggested - According to a study published by Le Monde the mortality rate in intensive care from coronavirus is between 30 and 40%,

Officially, the mortality rate for Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care is around 10%, according to Jérôme Salomon France’s Health Director.

Survey - As France prepares to ease its strict lockdown, a poll has shown that support for the measures aimed at halting the coronavirus spread has dropped below 50% for the first time.

The French government will announce on Tuesday details of its plan to slowly ease restrictions across the country from 11 May, including the phased reopening of schools. The proposals will be introduced to the Assemblée Nationale and put to a vote of MPs.

A survey published this weekend showed that less than half the population – 43% – now supports the maintaining of strict “confinement” measures, down eight percentage points from the previous week.





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