News from France 28.3.2021

A weekly bulletin of news in English –

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, for Sunday 28 March

The focus for this week was:

  • the rise of daily Covid-19 cases to more than 40,000
  • publication of the report into France’s role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide
  • a rise in French public debt
  • and the Culture Ministry’s candidate for a UNESCO listing.

As the number of Covid-19 cases reported daily reached 42,619 on Sunday, restrictions on movement were stepped up at the weekend.

Three more regions joined the 19 departments already in a four-week period of what the government described not as a “lockdown” but as a “third way” to put a brake on the virus without closing down the country.

The three are the Rhone department around the city of Lyon; Aube, southeast of Paris and Nièvre in central France.

90,000 police officers have been mobilised to carry out more controls at airports, train stations and motorway tolls in the departments applying stricter Covid-related measures.

Drivers crossing the border south into Spain will have to present a negative test from within 72 hours, the Spanish government announced on Saturday. Controls are also being stepped up at the borders into Belgium and Germany.

The number of people vaccinated reached 7,5 million of whom 2,6 million have had two doses. The number of people in intensive care in Paris hospitals has reached its highest so far this year.

The government is expected to announce further measures this week.

The historical commission set up by President Emmanuel Macron to look into France’s role in the Rwanda genocide of 1994 was made public on Friday.

While stating there was no proof the government of the day under President Francois Mitterand was complicit in the killings, the commission said France did not do enough to halt the massacres.

The genocide against the Tutsi population of Rwanda took place between April and July of 1994 after the Hutu President who was close to the French government died when his plane was shot down in the first week of April. Some 800,000 people were killed – mainly from the Tutsi minority.

Macron has said he wants to visit Rwanda this year and his office said it hoped the report would mark an “irreversible” reconciliation process between France and Rwanda.

Public debt in France has reached levels not seen since 1949 according to the national statistics office (Insee).

The 2020 public deficit – which includes the State budget, local and social security authorities – reached 211 billion euros, compared to 75 billion for the previous year.

The latest figures are the equivalent of 116 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The State budget more than doubled – to 182 billion euros.

The coronavirus and the shutting down of businesses caused the economy to contract by 8.2 percent in 2020.

The Culture Ministry has announced its candidate for UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list – and chosen the famous French bread – the baguette. (“savoir-faire et de la culture de la baguette de pain.”)

There are 35,000 independent bread makers throughout France – making billions of baguettes each year.

Officially named “baguette” a hundred years ago, in 1920, a law declared it must weigh at least 80 grams and be a maxium length of 40 centimetres.

The application will be studied by UNESCO and the result announced in autumn of next year.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 28 March 2021

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