France imposes restrictions on movement to contain coronavirus

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020   •   404

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (March 16) ordered stringent restrictions on people’s movement that would last at least two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and said the army would be drafted in to help move the sick to hospitals.

France had already shut down restaurants and bars, closed schools and put ski resorts off limits, but Macron said measures unprecedented in peacetime were needed as the number of infected people doubled every three days and deaths spiralled higher.

In a sombre address to the nation, the president said that from Tuesday midday people should stay at home and only go out for essential activities. Anyone flouting the restrictions would be punished.

“I know what I am asking of you is unprecedented but circumstances demand it. We are at war,” Macron said.

Macron said he was postponing the second round of local elections on Sunday and was suspending the government’s reform agenda, starting with his overhaul of the pension system.

Coronavirus infections and fatalities in France and Spain have been surging at a pace just days behind that of Italy, the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe where hospitals in the worst-hit northern regions are stretched to breaking point. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

Nokia workers protest against planned job cuts in Paris

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Several hundred Nokia workers protested in Paris on Wednesday (July 8) against plans to cut over 1,200 jobs in its French subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent International.

Nokia has said most of the layoffs would come from research and development (R&D) teams. Unions say this is incomprehensible when Europe is preparing to deploy the next generation mobile network.

Member of the French parliament from the ruling party LaRem, Eric Bothorel, who was elected in the northwestern region of Côtes-d’Armor, where there are planned job cuts, said Nokia’s announcement came just after the date set releasing the company from commitments to preserve jobs.

Nokia was bound to job retention commitments when it acquired Alcatel Lucent in 2015. They expired in June.

Bothorel said the move was “making fun of the government” as it targeted people who were recently hired.

Nokia says it will continue to be a major employer in France with a strong foothold in R&D. (Reuters)

(Production: Emilie Delwarde, Thierry Chiarello, Yiming Woo, Ardee Napolitano)

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested again for novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Paul Vieira)

French finance minister: working from home is not panacea for virus

UNTV News   •   June 15, 2020

Working from home is still a preferred option but is not the panacea for dealing with the problems caused by the coronavirus, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday (June 15), as France looks to speed up the re-opening of its economy.

“Working from home remains preferable, in the sense that it allows us to have a gradual return and can limit the circulation of the virus. But I’ve always considered that working from home was not the panacea,” Le Maire told France Info radio.

Even though many of France’s shops and restaurants have started to re-open, the major business districts of Paris remain empty as many employees are still working from home.

Le Maire also added that the state has begun to reduce its aid in covering partial unemployment benefits, to prompt companies to restart their activities. During the confinement period, the state covered 84 to 100 percent of salaries of furloughed employees.

He said working employees must be able to keep their purchasing power, to fuel consumption. (Reuters)

(Production: Michaela Cabrera)

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