Evening Update Friday 1 May 2020

The Regional Health Agency has said today that there have been no new deaths from the coronavirus in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. This is the first time no new deaths have been reported since the start of daily updates from the Agency. The daily update figures cover deaths in hospitals and nursing homes. The Alpes Maritimes also reported 22 fewer people in hospital today as a result of the virus. The Var recorded an increase of one person in hospital since yesterday. 210 people are still being treated in hospital for the virus in the Alpes Maritimes and 246 in the Var.

The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has said that about 500 people per day are being fined for breach of the confinement rules in Nice. In an interveiw today, he said the figure had risen from about 300 per day two weeks ago. He asked the people of Nice to "pull themselves together" and said that efforts to enforce confinement will be redoubled, using drones, helicopters and messages.

David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes is launching a distribution of protective visors for professionals in prolonged contact with the public. The masks, of two types,  are made from PVC and have been designed for people particularly exposed to the virus in the exercise of their professional activity. The town hall gave the examples of opticians, physiotherapists, beauticians, hairdressers, sellers, cashiers, dentists and reception staff. The distribution will start next Thursday, May 7.

Representatives of the French government and the SNCF have been giving further details on the wearing masks on trains. In an interview with Le Parisian, Secretary of State for transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said that the fine for not wearing a mask on a train should be of a similar amount to the fine for not having an exit certificate, in other words about 135 euros. However, he said that the exact amount hadn't yet been decided. He also said that people trying to enter a railway station without a mask may be refused access. Meanwhile, in an interview with France 2 last night, the head of the SNCF Jean-Pierre Farandou said that trains will be disinfected at least once per day and markings will be put on the ground to help in respecting barrier measures. He added that, although it will be possible to buy a mask at the station, passengers should do their part and not turn up at the station without a mask.

Representatives of French health professionals have  expressed their dismay at the plans for wide availability of masks. They say that they cannot understand why they have been told recently that masks to protect themselves and their patients are in short supply, when large supplies have now been made available to major retailers to sell in their stores.

French President Emmanuel Macron has posted a video message for the 1st of May holiday on social media this morning. The President paid tribute to carers, civil protection, army and law enforcement personnel who he said are on the front line in the fight against the virus. He also paid tribute to "farmers, civil servants, employees and the self-employed, remote workers but also volunteers, reservists and many others."

The oldest doctor in France has been received at the Elysee Palace this morning. President Macron and his wife Brigitte met with 99 year old Dr. Christian Chenay from the Val-de-Marne department near Paris. The president called his example "truly inspiring".

A man in his forties was rescued yesterday afternoon after falling in the Gorbio valley. Firefighters and specialist mountain rescue personnel attended to the man and he was then taken to La Palmosa Hospital in Menton.


BUSINESS

Ryanair is set to cut 3,000 jobs beause of the coronavirus outbreak. There are likely to be pay cuts of up to 20% for remaining staff. The company hopes to announce details by 1 July. Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told the BBC that the planned cuts were "the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months" and that if a vaccine wasn't found, the company "may have to announce more cuts and deeper cuts in future".

Heathrow Airport has reported a pre-tax loss of 278 million pounds for the first quarter. Revenues fell by 12.7%. It said that it expects passanger numbers to be down 97% in the month of April because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

The European Central Bank's chief economist has said that the Eurozone economy may not have returned to its previous levels by the end of 2022. Writing on an ECB blog, Philip Lane said that, in the most serious scenario modelled by the Bank, the eurozone could contract by 12% this year. He said that the European and world economies are currently experiencing what he called "an extraordinary and severe shock".

The French Automobile manufacturer's Committee, which represents the PSA and Renault groups has said that new car sales in France fell by 89% in April. Just under 21,000 units were sold in the month.


SPORT

Motorsports... The Hungarian Grand Prix is to be held behind closed doors. The decision follows the Hungarian government's announcement yesterday that it was banning on all gatherings of more than 500 people until 15 August. In a statement the organizers said that they believed that staging the event behind closed doors,  which fans can still watch on television, is preferable to not having a race at all.

Football... Scottish Premiership clubs are holding a video conference meeting today to discuss possible ways forward regarding resumption of play and league places. All twelve clubs in the Premiership are taking part.

Rugby... It's been announced that English Rugby league will receive finacial support from the UK government to help it recover from the impact of the pandemic. The government is providing 16m pounds of loans. UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government had intervened "to protect an entire sport". England is set to host the Rugby League World Cup next year.

Tennis... Despite injury worries in recent seasons, Andy Murray has emerged victorious in a major tournament. He won a contest of 16 leading ATP players who had all swapped their racquets for PlayStation 4 controllers to play a virtual version of the Madrid Open. Murray said that he would be donating half of the 45 thousand dollars prize money to the NHS and the other half to the tennis player relief fund.

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