The Prime Minister spoke Thursday 12th November for an update on the Covid-19 epidemic and the measures taken to stop it, 15 days after the new confinement.
Two weeks after the establishment of a new confinement to try to stop the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, the Prime Minister was expected to take stock of the situation. Jean Castex spoke at a press conference at 6 pm this Thursday 12th November 2020.
The speech of the head of government was held after final arbitrations taken in defense council this Thursday morning, a meeting in a select committee around the President of the Republic which has become almost weekly.
Status quo for 15 days
As the number of hospital patients continues to rise and deaths start to rise again, little hope remained of any relaxation of restrictions. And the Prime Minister confirmed it:
“It would be irresponsible to lift and even lighten the device now. With the President of the Republic, we decided to keep the confinement rules unchanged, at least for the next 15 days.”
Stores could reopen on December 1st
President Emmanuel Macron had made an appointment with traders in mid-November to assess a possible reopening of stores. They will therefore have to remain closed until December 1st.
It has been fifteen days that all businesses not selling products deemed essential for the pursuit of economic activity, necessary for transport, teleworking or even food for the French have been forced to close.
The Prime Minister nevertheless warned that these confinement relief measures would only be possible if the slowdown in the epidemic observed for a few days was confirmed. And that they would be “strictly limited to shops”.
But not the bars and restaurants, limited end-of-year celebrations
On the other hand, no hope of reopening from December 1st for bars, restaurants or sports halls, where “the risks of contamination are by nature higher”. Jean Castex indicated that these establishments could possibly reopen two weeks later, at the start of the Christmas holidays.
“Our goal is to be able to allow a new reduction at the time of the Christmas holidays so that the French can spend the end of the year celebrations with their families,” he added, while warning: “these will not be able to stand in the same way as usual ”.
“For the end of year celebrations, it would not be reasonable to imagine being able to have big parties with several dozen people.”
Another certificate to travel after December 1st
Without going into the details, the Prime Minister has already announced that it would still be necessary to travel with a derogatory certificate of exit beyond December 1st.
The expected peak in hospitals next week
As the Director-General of Health Jérôme Salomon already indicated on Monday, the peak of this second wave of the coronavirus epidemic has not yet been reached. The Prime Minister gave several figures on the health situation:
- More than 10,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 in the last two months, more than 42,000 deaths in total to date;
- Since last week, 400 to 500 patients die from the virus every day;
- One in four deaths is linked to the virus today in France;
- Hospitalization due to the virus is recorded every 30 seconds, admission to intensive care every 3 minutes;
- 40% of people in intensive care are under 65;
- 7,700 resuscitation beds were “armed” on November 10.
The authorities nevertheless note a 16% drop in contamination over the last seven days. The reproduction rate “R” has fallen below 1.
“If this trend is confirmed, we believe that the peak of the second wave could be reached at the beginning of next week. This means that the number of patients in intensive care could then start to decrease. ”
However, “if next week”, the trend of improving health indicators “is not confirmed and the number of Covid patients in intensive care should continue to increase”, the government could “be required to take additional measures”, warned Jean Castex.
Significant reduction in travel, strengthening of controls
In two weeks, the number of trips made by the French has decreased considerably, as indicated by the head of government: -22% of trips between home and work; -65% of frequentation in public transport in Paris; 85% of long-distance train journeys have been eliminated.
45% of private-sector employees have teleworked during the past week. “But we can still progress,” insisted Jean Castex.
And faced with the observation of a “lack of respect for the rules in places”, the mobilization of the police will be further intensified, especially in metropolitan areas.
Over the past two weeks, 581,000 checks have been carried out and nearly 90,000 fines have been sent.
Measures for the unemployed and students
To financially support the most precarious in this difficult period, the government has announced measures for students and the unemployed.
For the former, Jean Castex announced that “each of the 800 university campuses will have two student advisers in the coming days, in particular, to support first-year students or students in difficulty”. This represents the creation of 1,600 student jobs.
Concerning the unemployed, the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne proposed to the social partners to renew the system of entitlement to unemployment insurance to job seekers who are now at the end of their rights, the time of confinement.
“A job seeker whose rights should have expired at the end of November will continue to receive his allowance in December.”
Economic help for the retail sector
Regarding the economic measures already announced to support businesses and businesses forced to close, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire indicated that they would continue to apply for the next 15 days (aid up to 10,000 euros, partial activity, exemption from social charges).
He announced that a tax credit of 50% of the amount of rents would be created for all landlords waiving rents for the month of November for companies with up to 250 employees and which are closed, and a third of the rent for businesses with 250 to 5,000 employees