At a press conference Wedesday afternoon, prime minister Jean Castex announced “we are in a real downward trend” regarding the health situation and stated on Friday president Macron will present an outlook regarding France’s deconfinement.
Instead of a televised address, Macron will have an interview published in all regional daily titles on Friday. The reason for this is because a speech would not appear in the press until the next day, which in this case is May 1, the Labor Day holiday.
Following primary schools returning this week, Monday May 3 will see all students return in person to schools in France and mark the end of the ban on travel between regions or limits of 10 km or 30 km. The possible lifting of curfew on June 2 and opening of terraces mid-May remains unclear.
The prime minister commented that the Covid virus is still actively circulating but hospital admissions are lowering and the reproduction rate (R) has dropped to 0.89. Positive cases have gone from an average of 38,000 a day last week to 26,200 a day over the last seven days.
Still ICU numbers remain high, just under 6,000, the same figure as April 2020 at the height of the first wave.
Tomorrow Castex will present a progressive exit strategy to the National Assembly. A transition period from June 2 to October 31 will provide a guideline to reopen the country but the prospect of a gradual return to a more normal life requires legal tools to adapt measures as necessary should the situation require. The exit strategy will be “progressive as the vaccination campaign unfolds,” Castex said.
According to CovidTracker, Wednesday morning there were 275,705 vaccination appointments available across France. Yet the government says it is “premature” to open up the eligibility to under-55s, despite 27% unused doses (1.7 million) of AstraZeneca. However, it seems that in Nice anyone under-55 , without comorbidities, can now be vaccinated (ID card needed) although priority will be given to the public targeted so far by the state (over-55s and certain professions over-55, for example).
14,579,482 people (28% of the population) in France have received first injection as of April 27. Castex said that 15 million people will be vaccinated by the end of this week and 20 million by mid-May. “By tonight, 60% of over-60s will have received their first injection,” he stated. (The European Commission has launched legal action against AstraZeneca over a contractual breach of Covid doses and will appear in a Belgian court on May 26.)
The second objective of the press conference was to announce France’s new anti-terrorism bill, which includes “new legal arsenal” dedicated to online surveillance with the aim of spotting potential terrorists. Apparently in discussion for several months but accelerated by the fatal stabbing of a 49-year-old female police employee in Rambouillet on Friday, the law concerns also the surveillance of certain prisoners post-release and the closure of places of worship deemed problematic.
And according to a study by Cabinet Iri, between March 17, 202-2021, champagne sales in France shot up 118% while the French also spent 30% more on specialty beers. On the down side, sales dipped in pasta (-42%), butter and eggs (-19%) and toilet paper (-28%). Deodorant, razors and makeup also lost out.