Monaco has stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the Principality, enforcing strict controls at air and sea. It is also hoping to soften the economic blow by providing businesses hardest hit by the crisis with zero rate loans.
Minister of State Serge Telle welcomed local media early Wednesday for an update on the current coronavirus health crisis and the new measures that are being taken by the Prince’s Government.
Hours later, the World Health Organisation declared a Covid-19 pandemic, pointing to the over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in more than 110 countries and territories around the world and the sustained risk of further global spread. The declaration refers to the spread of a disease, rather than the severity of the illness it causes.
“We have observation that tells us that there is a strong element of controllability in this disease,” Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, told a news conference on Wednesday.
“That doesn’t mean we will completely stop it but what it does mean is there is a real chance to blunt the curve, there is a real chance to bend the curve and reduce the number of cases that our health system has to cope with and give the health system a chance to save more lives,” he said.
Earlier, Monaco’s government said it is attempting to bend that curve.
“The response to this crisis is largely based on the civic sense and the sense of responsibility of the people, who make up Monaco, which has – in a rather paradoxical but very happy way – had only one case of coronavirus in the last 15 days and who has fully recovered,” said Serge Telle. “This appeal to people’s civic sense is important because it concerns the direct protection of oneself but also of others.”
A number of new restrictions have been put in place by the government. They are:
At sea, the Principality is prohibiting any cruise stopover in its port or territorial waters until 30th April. “Monaco would be unable to take care of a large number of infected people on board a cruise ship,” explained the Minister of State.
The cruise tourism season was scheduled to resume on 23rd March with 25 ships and between 15,000 and 20,000 passengers due by the end of April.
“With regards to possible cruise passengers from other stops in the nearby region, we encourage bus companies not to offer Destination Monaco among the activities of these tourists,” said Mr Telle.
Meanwhile, captains of yachts 24 metres and over will now have to send a medical declaration of health for their crew and passengers, 48 hours before docking in the Principality.
In the airline sector, the helicopter companies which serve the Principality from a risk zone are asked to carry out temperature checks on their passengers. In instances of a fever above 38°C, a decision will be taken in consultation with the company and the Monegasque civil aviation authority.
Finally, CAM buses will now undergo two daily cleaning and disinfection operations, with the distribution of hydroalcoholic gel inside the buses until next week.
The sectors most affected by the Covid-19 health crisis are tourism, events, hotels and catering, explained the government. To support companies in difficulty, beyond the social measures already implemented (such as deferred payment of social charges), the government has decided to reactivate COMED, the commission for the assistance of enterprises in difficulty, created in 2008 at the time of the global financial crisis.
The committee can make a diagnosis on the health of companies, propose a recovery plan if necessary, and give the possibility of obtaining a loan at zero rate.
From Thursday, information on these support measures will be available through the Welcome Office, with the activation of a telephone number: 98 98 98 99 and an email address: covid19entreprises @ gouv.mc. A dedicated internet page will also be put online (www.spe.gouv.mc).
The government considers it essential that vigilance is maintained with regard to the fragile elderly population. Certain measures have already been taken in the various establishments and structures hosting them, measures which are normally enforced in the event of an influenza epidemic and gastroenteritis. They include limiting exposure to outside interventions, limiting family visits, and favouring small over large gatherings. “These are all measures that obey the civic sense and everyone’s responsibility that will help save our seniors,” said the Director of the CHPG Benoîte de Sevelinges.
For AS Monaco basketball games in the Jeep Elite competition, the decision of the National Basketball League will be applied: the matches will be played normally with a maximum of 1,000 spectators.
The same principle will apply to the Monte Carlo Rolex Tennis Masters, however the final decision will be taken by the Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes.
The EuroCup Basketball match between AS Monaco and Bologna, “which does not meet all the health conditions required, as Bologna being located in a risk zone,” will be relocated to a third city. The first leg is scheduled for 17th March.
The National Football League has decreed that the next Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches will take place behind closed doors until 15th April. This will therefore be the case for matches at the Stade Louis II.
The health situation has stabilised in Monaco, with only one confirmed positive case. This Monegasque resident has returned to the Principality, under medical supervision, and is waiting to be given the all clear.
Between two and five Covid-19 screening tests are conducted daily, while some doctors are trialling the use of medical teleconsultation. Pharmacists have also been allowed to make their own hydro-alcoholic gel to meet demand.
Photo: © Communication Department / Michael Alesi