This is News from France, a weekly review in English, for Sunday 21 February
The focus for this week was:
Covid-19 cases and vaccines
the outlook for summer festivals
5G mobile phone rollout in Paris
new nuclear submarines
and sands from the Sahara blowing over France.
The number of Covid-19 cases for the previous day reached 22,371, according to public health figures released on Saturday.
The number of daily cases has been about 20,000 since the end of December.
Two and a half million people have been vaccinated, with more expected this week as the first deliveries of the Astra Zeneca vaccines are sent to health centres.
The dusk to dawn curfew (6pm to 6am) and travel restrictions are ongoing.
The mayor of Nice called for a weekend lockdown to prevent visitors coming into the Mediterranean city area which currently has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in France.
The culture ministry announced this week that summer festivals will be able to go ahead – but the number of people attending will be limited to 5,000, and everyone must be seated.
The rules will apply to indoor and outdoor events.
Currently restaurants, bars, museums, theatres and concert halls are all closed.
The ministry said that a €30 million-euro fund will compensate festivals that have to make changes or cancel.
Mobile phone operators have made an agreement with the Paris Mayor for the rollout of the 5G network.
Signed by Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR, the accord follows a series of local discussions with citizens last autumn.
They raised concerns over the effects of 5G on energy use, health and the environment and a charter has been drawn up for consideration by the Paris Council (Conseil de Paris) in March. If approved, the 5G network will be switched on in the capital.
Defense minister Florence Parly announced four new nuclear submarines will be operational by 2035 to replace the current fleet.
Parly said via Twitter that “nuclear deterrence is the life-assurance of the nation” (La dissuasion nucléaire est l’assurance-vie de la nation) saying the launch would also reflect French industrial excellence.
The minister said last week that a nuclear-attack submarine was one of two vessels which recently patrolled in the South China Sea with Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners.
Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief-of-staff of the French navy, told a Japanese newspaper that France would also participate in joint military exercises with the US and Japan in the East China Sea in May.
In France, strong winds from the south brought with them fine sand from the Sahara.
The sky turned a deep ochre colour at sunset and sunrise as a result.
Two weeks of unusually warm weather are expected to follow this weekend.
This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 21 February 2021