French News Digest: Next Few Days Decisive, Says Macron
In our weekly news round up from France, we look at the Covid-19 latest figures and measures.
According to the latest report from Santé Public France, France reported 9,406 new cases and 506 deaths in hospitals in the 24 hours to Sunday.
This brings the overall number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 1,991,233, and 44,548 deaths in total (of which 31,315 were in hospitals).
The number of deaths in Ehpads (care homes) and EMS (medico-socio centres) now stands at 13,739.
However, the number of new cases is decreasing – France currently has 33,497, with 416 people hospitalised and 366 new patients in intensive care over the same 24-hour period. The test positivity rate is lower, at 16.4%.
99 departments are currently in a situation of “high vulnerability”, while Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes Côtes d’Azur have the highest number of hospitalisations.
Current hospital figures and deaths in 24 hours to Sunday, by region:
- Ile-de-France: 6,610 hospitalisations and 89 deaths in 24 hours
- Grand Est: 2,551 hospitalisations and 38 deaths in 24 hours
- Hauts de France: 3,239 hospitalised and 52 deaths in 24 hours
- Auvergne Rhône Alpes: 7,125 hospitalised and 110 deaths in 24 hours
- Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur: 3,239 hospitalised and 60 deaths in 24 hours
- Brittany: 731 hospitalised and 9 deaths in 24 hours
- Normandy: 1426 hospitalised and 33 deaths in 24 hours
- New-Aquitaine: 1799 hospitalised and 30 deaths in 24 hours
- Pays de la Loire: 1,081 hospitalised and 10 deaths in 24 hours
- Occitania: 2,213 hospitalisations and 33 deaths in 24 hours
- Centre-Val de Loire: 1,085 hospitalised and 12 deaths in 24 hours
- Burgundy-Franche-Comté: 1,858 hospitalised and 27 deaths in 24 hours
- Réunion: 88 hospitalised and 0 deaths in 24 hours
- Guadeloupe: 121 hospitalised and 0 deaths in 24 hours
France currently has 3,698 cluster outbreaks, including 1,317 in Ehpads.
Next few days decisive, says Macron
Last Thursday, November 12, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex held a press conference in which he confirmed the maintenance of current lockdown conditions for at least “the next 15 days”.
The first results of this second confinement period are “consistent”, he said, with a decrease in the use of transport and reveal “an early reduction of 16% [of cases]”, although the epidemic is still very much present.
Two days later, Emmanuel Macron sent a message to the French people via his Twitter account.
The President of the Republic reminded the nation that the battle against Coronavirus is “a collective fight”, adding that “the next few days will be decisive”, also linking to a sanitary measures video reminding people of the importance of mask wearing, hand-washing, social distancing of at least one metre, airing enclosed spaces, and downloading and using the government’s TousAntiCovid smartphone application.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Olivier Véran said yesterday: “We are regaining control of the epidemic”, adding: “Everything leads us to believe that we have passed the epidemic’s peak”.
“Thanks to lockdown, as in March, the virus is starting to circulate less”, he said. “For ten consecutive days, the number of new diagnoses of Covid-19 has been decreasing, the rate of positive tests and the incidence rate has dropped”.
Cafés, bars, restaurants may not open until January 15
There will be no reopening of France’s cafes, bars and restaurants before the end of the year, according to information sourced by news channel franceinfo yesterday.
A proposed date of January 15, 2021 for them to re-open is being mooted by the government say the sources, though this date has yet to be confirmed.
The official line is more vague. The government confirmed to France Televisions that it will be complicated to reopen bars and restaurants before the Christmas holidays, but that beyond that date it is impossible to confirm or deny a date.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to make an announcement on the subject next week, along with details of additional financial aid for a catering and hospitality sector still fragile from the first containment that ended in May. A specific support plan is being readied.
Last Saturday, November 14, the Union des métiers des industries de l’hôtellerie (UMIH), the main union in the sector, announced its intention to take the government to court over the latest enforced closure.
Meanwhile, federations from other ‘non-essential’ businesses are asking to be allowed to re-open in time for the big-spending shopping day, ‘Black Friday’ – which takes place this year on November 27.
Religious ceremonies back on “from December 1”
There may be a resumption of public religious ceremonies “around December 1”, with “new health protocols”, the government has said, after the Prime Minister met yesterday with representatives of various religious denominations.
The government is calling on religious leaders to “develop new health protocols” that “will allow the resumption of worship, as soon as health conditions permit,” the Hôtel de Matignon [the Prime Minister’s residence] said in a statement. These proposals will be submitted next week to the Prime Minister.
Currently, places of worship can remain open, but ceremonies with the public in attendance are prohibited, except for funerals with a limit of 30 people.
Call for car insurance refund during Covid
One of France’s leading consumer rights associations, UFC-Que Choisir, has renewed its appeal to car insurers to pay back any sums it has saved during the confinement, according to France Inter – because there is less traffic and fewer accidents.
It estimates that €2.2 billion in car and motorcycle contributions must be reimbursed to policyholders – an average of €50 for each customer.
UFC-Que Choisir launched a similar appeal during the first containment, with limited success. “Out of the 12 main insurers, only five of them made gestures to all or part of their customers,” says Matthieu Robin, who carried out the study at UFC-Que Choisir.
“And the rest, Axa, Maaf, Crédit Agricole Assurances, Generali, Allianz or Groupama for example, did not agree to any reduction in the cost of premiums”.
The association is providing policyholders with a standard letter to facilitate the process of obtaining partial reimbursement. Download it here (French only).
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