HEALTH: The government announced this Thursday at a press conference new measures to limit the circulation of the coronavirus
“Do everything to prevent the British variant from circulating in France”. Prime Minister Jean Castex, surrounded by six ministers announced this Thursday at a press conference new restrictive measures to try to slow the circulation of the coronavirus while the situation remains “under control but fragile, with in particular the emergence of news strains ”.
The generalised curfew at 6 pm
Jean Castex announced this Thursday the generalization of the curfew from Saturday evening at 6 pm throughout the metropolitan territory, beyond the 25 departments already concerned, in an attempt to curb the coronavirus epidemic.
Concretely, the exemptions to pick up your children from school or come home from work will still be valid, but it will no longer be possible to travel for personal reasons after 6 pm. Moreover, “except for the exceptions related to public service missions, all places, shops or services open to the public will be closed at 6 pm”, specified the head of government. In the event of a “strong epidemic deterioration” in the coming days, the Prime Minister, however, warned that a new containment would be applied “without delay”.
Reinforced border controls
“We are going to tighten significantly the conditions of entry into the national territory and strengthen border controls” to “prevent” the variant strain of the virus “from progressing rapidly” on the territory, declared the Prime Minister.
As of Monday, all travellers wishing to come to France from a non-EU country “will have to present a negative test to board a plane or a boat,” he said. These people will also have to “undertake on their honor to isolate themselves for 7 days, once they have arrived in France, then to repeat a second PCR test at the end”, he said. For people who cannot carry out a test in their country of departure, they will have the opportunity to be tested on their arrival in France and will be forced “to isolate themselves for 7 days in a hotel designated by the State”.
Jean Castex specified that for travel from an EU country, “and in particular countries such as Ireland or Denmark facing a difficult epidemic situation”, “the ministers will work on the development of a coordination framework for the next European Council on January 21 ”. “This framework will obviously have to provide for exceptions concerning border workers, road carriers or agents of transport companies” with “specific health protocols”, added the head of government.
Emergency measures in communities and overseas departments
Emergency restrictive measures will also be put in place in Guyana as well as in Mayotte and Réunion to protect them from the variants circulating in these regions.
In Guyana, “border control will be reinforced and negative tests will be required” to reach the Antilles and the metropolis. Likewise, “negative tests will be required for flights from Mayotte or Réunion”.
A reinforced health protocol in schools
“We want to do everything to avoid” the closure of schools , said the head of government. In high school, hybrid education set up in November, which was to end on January 20, will be extended. But Jean-Michel Blanquer pleads for “increased vigilance” for the Terminal who pass the bac and must therefore be privileged for face-to-face lessons. At the college, he explained that “exceptionally”, in the event of very strong constraints, the hybrid mode could be authorized, for the pupils of 4th and 3rd.
The health protocol in school canteens, considered to be the weak link in the organization of the student day, will also be strengthened. In primary school, “there will be no mixing possible”: the pupils of the same class will eat together every day. If this is not possible, the catering time will be “lengthened” and “as a last resort we can have take-out meal solutions”, said the minister. In colleges, if the pressure is too strong, the service time may be lengthened or take-out meals offered.
“All indoor (sports) practices are suspended, it is true in schools, in extracurricular settings (…) for a few weeks probably”, also indicated the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer. The government also wants to accelerate the screening strategy in schools with a target of one million tests for students and staff in January. And “every time there are three cases [in an establishment], a screening team can come on-site,” said Jean-Michel Blanquer.
Gradual resumption of face-to-face in university
First-year university students will be able to resume face-to-face tutorials in half-groups from January 25, said Jean Castex. This measure will then extend, “if the health situation allows it, to students of other levels”, he added, expressing the “concern” of the government at the “deep feeling of isolation, but also the real pedagogical difficulties ”of the students.
New acceleration of the vaccine strategy
The Prime Minister announced the opening on Monday 18th January 18 of vaccination, not only to people aged 75 and over but also to people – regardless of their age – with high-risk pathology (such as severe chronic renal failure, cancer or trisomy), on prescription from their attending physician. This would represent around 800,000 people, according to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran.
To speed up this vaccination campaign, “more than 700 vaccination centres” will be open Monday announced the Prime Minister and a new national telephone number (0800 009 110) will be available from Monday 8 am to make an appointment. It will be accessible from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week, in addition to the santé.fr website. “At the end of January, we will be over one million people vaccinated,” the Prime Minister announced.
Extended or prolonged assistance systems
The fixed costs of businesses closed due to the coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic and those of the sectors linked to them, achieving more than one million euros in turnover per month, will be covered at 70%, announced the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire. This “exceptional aid” will be added to aid from the solidarity fund and is currently capped at 3 million euros over the period from January to June 2021, the minister said.
Companies will also have “the right” to benefit from their bank for an additional year to start repaying the loans guaranteed by the State (PGE), taken out to face the crisis, announced the Minister of the Economy. and Finance. This deadline was initially due to expire at the end of March for some companies, while many of them are still experiencing financial difficulties.
In terms of partial activity, “for companies that are totally or partially closed (in particular stores forced to close at 6 p.m. due to the curfew), the State continues to cover 100% of the remuneration paid to employees as long as restrictive measures will be applied ”, indicated the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne.