“Macron, resign!” — yellow vest protesters back in Paris

admin   •   January 9, 2019   •   1585

Yellow vest protesters in Paris on January 5, 2019 | REUTERS

Thousands of yellow vest protesters were back on the streets of Paris on Saturday (January 5), flooding the Champs Elysees and calling for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron, though with no signs of the violence which has marred recent demonstrations.

In the eighth consecutive week of nationwide protests, people wearing the familiar high-visibility vests which have become their symbol called for a boost in purchasing power and direct democracy via a “people’s initiative referendum”.

Unusually, the protests in the capital were organised and the Paris police department was alerted to their planned route.

The protesters marched from the Champs Elysees to the city’s former stock exchange in the busy shopping district around the Grands Boulevards.

No immediate figures for participation were available but the numbers in the streets have been steadily declining in recent weeks.

Saturday’s protest comes after the French government on Friday dismissed the protesters as agitators whose only goal was to topple it, signaling a toughening stance against the movement. — Reuters

France to reopen on Monday, Paris region to unwind lockdown more slowly

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

France is ready to start unwinding its coronavirus lockdown from next Monday as planned, the prime minister said on Thursday (May 7), although some regions including the Paris area where the disease is still circulating would keep some restrictions.

The country has made enough progress in slowing down the spread of the virus and reducing strain in hospitals to gradually return to normal, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference. Schools, cafes and most shops have been shut for nearly two months.

Beyond the Paris area, administrative regions around Calais, Strasbourg and Dijon will also remain classified as “red zones”, where some restrictions will remain – such as keeping parks, gardens and secondary schools shut.

In other parts of France, secondary schools, cafes and restaurants may open from early June if the infection rate remains low, Philippe said.

In Paris, commuters will need permission forms from their employers to use the metro or buses at peak hours and across France the wearing of masks on public transport will be compulsory and enforced by a fine of 135 euros.

Next week, about 1 million children and 130,000 teachers will return to school, the education minister said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that following the lifting of the lockdown the country’s borders would remain closed until further notice.

Philippe said on Thursday that the government would reinforce restrictions if the spread of the new coronavirus accelerated again.

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in France was up 178 or 0.7% to 25,987 on Thursday, the lowest rate of increase in four days. (Reuters)

(Production: Johnny Cotton)

Macron extends France’s lockdown until May 11

UNTV News   •   April 14, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (April 13) announced he was extending a virtual lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11, adding that progress had been made but the battle not yet won.

Following Italy in extending the lockdown but announcing no immediate easing of restrictive measures as in Spain, Macron said the tense situation in hospitals in Paris and eastern France meant there could be no let-up in the country.

Since March 17, France’s 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home except to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise on their own. The lockdown was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday.

Schools and shops would progressively reopen on May 11, Macron said. But restaurants, hotels, cafes and cinemas would have to remain shut longer, he added. International arrivals from non-European countries will remain prohibited until further notice.

Macron, whose government has faced criticism over a shortage of face masks and testing kits, said that by May 11, France would be able to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms and give nonprofessional face masks to the public.

Macron also said he had asked his government to present this week new financial aid for families and students in need.

The French, long accustomed to being told their high taxes paid for the “best healthcare in the world,” have been dismayed by the rationing of critical drugs, face masks and equipment and have watched with envy the situation in neighbouring Germany.

After a relentless increase until the first week of April, the number of patients in French hospitals’ intensive care units has started to decline, prompting health authorities to call a plateau in the epidemic.

But if French hospitals are just about coping, helped by a massive effort to transfer patients by plane, helicopter or even high-speed train from hospitals in the east and Paris to the west, nursing homes have been overwhelmed.

By Monday, the coronavirus had claimed 14,967 lives in France, the fourth-highest death toll in the world, with more than 98,076 confirmed cases, according to official figures. (Reuters)

(Production: Johnny Cotton)

France to close schools to curb coronavirus spread

UNTV News   •   March 13, 2020

Starting next week, France will close all creches, schools and universities to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on Thursday (March 12).

Describing the outbreak as France’s biggest public health crisis in a century, Macron also urged employers to let staff work from home, and said that the elderly and people with health conditions should stay indoors.

He said, however, that municipal elections scheduled for this weekend should go ahead.

He said that to ease the economic impact, the state would take over paying salaries of people forced to stop work, and that businesses would not have to pay taxes that fall due in March.

On the European level, he said the latest measures to support the economy unveiled by the European Central Bank were not sufficient, and that he would work with European partners on a major package to relaunch the economy “whatever it costs.”

In a veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend some travel to the United States, Macron said nationalism was not the answer to the virus.

He said the disease has no nationality, and that if national frontiers had to be closed, it would only be when it was essential, and in coordination with the rest of Europe. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

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