Evening Update Friday 20 March 2020

Vallauris-Golfe-Juan has become the first municiplaity on the Riviera to introduce a curfew. Mayor Michelle Salucki announced this afternoon that a curfew in Vallauris-Golfe-Juan would be in effect this evening (Friday) from 8pm. However, early this evening it was announced that the curfew will now begin at 10pm and end at 5am in three zones: Vallauris town centre, Golfe-Juan town centre and the entire coastal area of the resort.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has announced this morning on French television plans to introduce a decree to establish a curfew in the city. Mr Estrosi  broke the news after having just confirmed the closure of the Promenade des Anglais taking effect this afternoon. The mayor's staff said this afternoon that they were looking at the legal feasibility of a municipal decree. The beach in Nice is also closed, in common with all beaches on the south coast of France. Reports say that a curfew may also be introduced in Cannes.

According to local reports, two people died from covid19 at Toulon hospital during the course of last night. If confirmed, they would be the first deaths from the virus to be recorded in the Var.

Police have been stepping up controls to enfore the confinement restrictions in the Alpes Maritimes. According to reports, 700 checks were carried out yesterday resulting in the issuing of 26 fines for the absence of a travel authorization.

Members of several professions involved in fighting the virus outbreak have once again voiced their concerns over the lack of access to appropriate face masks. The National Federation of Firefighters of France has warned that fire stations will run out of masks in the next few days. The union called on central government to make the required number of masks available otherwise they would not be able to carry out their duties. Certain medical staff have also voiced their strong concerns abou the lack of masks, as have police unions.

The Alpes Maritimes has been placed in the category of "Areas of exposure at risk" by Public Health France. Being placed in this category means that the Alpes Maritimes is now considered an area in which the coronavirus is in free circulation. Departments given this classification become a priority for the delivery of masks to health personnel. The Var has already been placed in the same category.

La Poste has announced that post offices will be closed and there will be no mail or parcel deliveries tomorrow (Saturday). The suspension of services for the day is aimed at giving a consecutive 2 day break to La Poste employees. Post Offices will be open again and mail deliveries will resume on Monday.

The Monaco government has introduced an extensive range of economic measures to help businesses in the Principality. The measures include the deferral of TVA payments for 3 months, the arrangement of loans on preferential terms and changes to certain business rent payments.  A credit guarantee fund of 50 million euros was also announced.

The French Navy has been called in to evacuate sufferers from Covid 19 from Corsica. The amphibious helicopter carrier "Tonnerre" has been sent to help.The Prefect of Corsica said that they would be taken to medical facilities on the Cote d'Azur. Corsica had 164 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, 138 of those being in Ajaccio.

After the drone which flew above Nice yesterday to broadcast confinement advice, the police in Cannes are also reported to be planning to use a drone to give advice as from late this afternoon.

The French Union of Event Trades has announced that over 30 event sites in France will be made available to health authorities for their needs. Locally, they include the Expo Congrès in Mandelieu-la-Napoule and the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

President Emmanuel Macron has announced 50 million euros of additional funds for research into the coronavirus. 8 million euros has already been committed to research. He also announced that the budget for research in France would be increased by five billion euros over 10 years.

In other news, residents of Breil-sur-Roya and Sospel experienced earth tremors this afternoon. A mild earthquake was confirmed by the French National Seismic Monitoring Network which said the quake of magnitude 2.4 was located 3 km from Breil-sur-Roya and 6 km from Sospel.

 

BUSINESS


Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley have both announced that they are suspending production at their UK plants until at least the 20th of April because of the virus outbreak. However, Bentley said that some core operations will continue at its plant in Crewe with social distancing being put in place. Jaguar Land Rover is owned by India's Tata Motors. Bentley is owned by Volkswagen.

Research consultancy Capital Economics is forecasting a fall in UK GDP of 15 per cent in the second quarter, which would be the largest in modern history. It said that compared to the same periods last year, the number of people dining out fell by 91% on Wednesday, last weekend cinema ticket receipts were down by 56% and last week UK retail sales were down by 11%.

UK retailer Marks & Spencer says that the company is considerning the temporary closure of some of its stores. It said it was too early to forecast performance in the next financial year but was planning for what it called "a prolonged downturn in demand for clothing and home” merchandise. It also said that it had not seen as much panic buying as many supermarkets because of its focus on chilled and fresh foods.

UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has cancelled its dividend and issued a profits warning. It said that sales were down by 4.5% in the week to 15 March. However, sales fell at a “significantly higher rate” after the UK Prime Minister's advice to avoid pubs earlier this week.

Heathrow Airport says that's it has suspended all recruitment of new staff and taken measures to cut costs because of the virus outbreak. The airport said that it was committed to keeping open to enable freight services and the reduced number of passanger services to keep operating.


SPORT

England manager Gareth Southgate has written an open letter to England fans. In the letter he says that "we shouldn't spend another moment" thinking about the postponement of Euro 2020 and called for all of the national team's fans to "look out for each other". This summer's finals have been put back a year because of the virus outbreak. England were also due to play friendlies against Italy and Denmark next week.

The World Snooker Championship has been postponed. It was scheduled to take place at the Crucible theatre in Sheffield from 18 April to 4 May. Organisers hope to reschedule the Championship in July or August.

 

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