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14 May 2020

COVID-19: Eighth meeting of Joint Monitoring Committee

An eighth meeting of the Joint COVID-19 Monitoring Committee was held on Thursday 14 May at the Ministry of State. The Prince’s Government discussed with members of the National Council the decisions that have been taken and are still to be taken in view of the health crisis and the resulting social and economic impact.

The Prince’s Government and the National Council discussed the scope of the teleworking act passed on 5 May and its application, given the ministerial decisions which have already been adopted and will be adapted. They noted that the legislation was coherent. Until publication of the act in the Official Journal on Friday 15 May, teleworking will be mandatory. From Saturday 16 May, it will be strongly encouraged, as stipulated under Article 11 of Act No. 1488 on teleworking.

The Prince’s Government also announced that the sun deck on the Port Hercule sea wall would be opened up to the public from Saturday 16 May. Only active use of the sun deck in compliance with distancing rules will be authorised.

These various relaxations of the measures taken to combat the coronavirus epidemic have been made possible thanks to compliance on the part of Monegasque nationals and residents with the sometimes restrictive regulations. On Monday 4 May, the Principality of Monaco began the process of gradually easing the lockdown, and progress so far has been encouraging.

During this first phase, shops have been able to reopen if they can comply with strict health rules such as a maximum capacity of one person per four square metres and mandatory wearing of masks. They are also required to supply hand sanitiser.

As of today, almost all shops are open. The major retailers that depend on France, and which had waited a few days before opening their stores, are now operational.

Overall, footfall is far below the levels seen in May during previous years, given the cancellation of events and cruises as well as the fact that restaurants are still not open. Initial estimates suggest that footfall is down by around 60%. This decline is slightly less pronounced at the moment in shops selling essential items, for example shops selling clothing, home computer equipment, domestic appliances, telephone equipment, toys and personal services (hairdressing, beauty services).

Since their introduction almost six weeks ago, the grants (Exceptional Minimum Income and Business Support) jointly developed by the Government and the National Council have proven to be highly effective. Current recipients will automatically receive support payments in June (for the month of May), without the need to apply and despite the fact that many are likely to have resumed their activity.

Conversely, no new applications received after 15 May will be approved. The Joint Monitoring Committee is now keen to focus on those sectors of the economy that have been hit particularly hard by the crisis, or which are still subject to administrative closures. Targeted long-term support measures will be developed for these sectors.

This gradual resumption of activity is also reflected in traffic in the Principality, which, however, is still moderate. The use of public car parks remains down on the same period last year. As of 10 a.m. on Monday 11 May, only the Engelin, Testimonio and Square Gastaud car parks were full. Overall, car park use on 12 May stayed at around 65% of the occupancy recorded during a reference week in March 2020.

With regard to public transport, SNCF recorded an extra 1,300 passengers compared with the week beginning 4 May:

  • On Monday 11 May, 2,219 arriving passengers and 2,067 departing passengers were noted at Monaco railway station, making a total of around 4,300 over the day (compared with 3,000 last week).
  • The figure for 12 May shows that numbers at the station are rising every day: 5,000 people compared with 4,300 the previous day, an approximately 15% increase during both morning and evening. All trains were double-decker with additional capacity (long trains).
  • The figure for 13 May showed a slight decline, with 4,832 passengers counted in the station on that date.

The Monegasque Bus Company (CAM), which has resumed its normal timetable during the week, recorded average passenger numbers of 6,720 on working days between 4 and 10 May, with a maximum of 7,130 and a minimum of 5,570 (on Friday). Numbers on Saturday rose from around 2,600 to 4,000 and on Sunday from 1,000 to 1,500. On 12 May, there were 9,356 passengers, or around 40% of the usual figure.

On 11 May, pupils in Years 12 and 13 at general education lycées returned to school, as did Year 12, Year 13 and BTS Hotel and Catering Management students at Monaco’s Vocational and Catering School.

Lessons were taught in half-class groups for half-days to maintain distancing, and it is now mandatory to wear masks in schools. Every pupil and member of staff (teaching and non-teaching) is entitled to a serological test. Testing is voluntary.

On the first two days of the week, 687 out of 862 pupils, or 80%, returned to school.

To continue this path towards a return to normal activity, the Prince’s Government informed members of the National Council of the forthcoming introduction of free testing for all residents and employees of the Principality on a voluntary basis. Monegasque nationals and residents will be contacted by post from the beginning of next week and invited to one of two test centres (Grimaldi Forum and Espace Léo Ferré). Currently, 50,000 accredited and reliable tests are available. Another 100,000 tests are on their way to our country.

By sometime in June, all of Monaco will have been tested. To date, more than 700 targeted individuals who have had exposure have been tested as the first step in an epidemiological survey of the Principality. The results showed that less than 2% had had contact with the virus. These initial figures, which still have to be refined, are encouraging, as they show that the lockdown in the Principality considerably slowed the spread of the virus in Monaco.

The meeting also featured discussion of proposed Act No. 250 on various measures relating to leases for commercial, industrial or craft usage or for office space as part of efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prince’s Government informed the members of the National Council that it would not be turning this proposal into a bill. The Prince’s Government is keen to ensure legal stability, and will therefore focus on consultation and assessing each case on an individual basis.

The next meeting of the Joint Committee will be held on 28 May 2020.

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