Evening Update Friday 22 May 2020

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner have confirmed that the second round of municipal elections will take place on 28 June. The elections, which were due to take place two months ago but have been postponed because of the pandemic, will be held in 5,000 municipalities across France, which represents about 5% of all French municipalities. The second round concerns only those municipalities which didn't elect a mayor in the first round.

However, the Prime Minister said that the decision could be reversed depending on the public health situation. A decision will be taken at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on 27 June whether to go ahead with the elections on the following day or if, depending on advice from the Scientific Council, they should be postponed again until January 2021. He added that staff at polling stations will be required to wear surgical masks and voters must wear a protective mask which could be of a type generally available to the public.

Figures released by the Regional Health Agency this afternoon show that there have been two deaths today from Covid-19 in the Alpes Maritimes and one in the Var. In the Alpes Maritimes, the number of people in hospital with the virus has declined by one since yesterday, meaning that there are 134 in hospital, 11 of whom are in intensive care. In the Var, 162 people are hospitalised, which is 4 fewer than yesterday, with 12 in intensive care.

New limits on the price of hydro-alcoholic gel in France have been put in place. Price caps were already in place until the end of this month but a new decree published today sets new limits of 4.40 euros for 300ml, 2.64 euros for 100ml and 1.76 euros for 50ml. the price caps are in force until 10 July. A limit on the price of certain protective masks has also been extended to 10 July. The measure affects only non-reuseable surgical masks of  type not available to the general public.

The Covid-19 testing programme for Monaco residents continues tomorrow. If you live in the Principality and your surname begins with the letter A,B,C or D, you can go to either the Espace Léo Ferré or the Grimaldi Forum. If it's letter E, then you have to go to the Espace Léo Ferré and if it's the letter F then you need to go to the Grimaldi Forum. Opening hours are 8am and 6pm tomorrow (Saturday). Testing is on a voluntary basis and is free of charge but remember to take your Monaco residence or identity card. You can get further information in English at covid19.mc

Authorities have warned residents of Vallauris about a scam. Several elderly people have been approached by individuals posing as inspectors from the Regional Health Agency, offering to carry out tests to detect the potential presence of Covid-19 in their homes. Anyone who may have been approached is advised to contact the town hall or the local police on 04.93.64.30.31.

UK Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has given details of the proposed UK quarantine scheme, which he said would be announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel this evening. Speaking to the BBC earlier today, Mr. Lewis said that travellers entering the UK would be required to isolate for 14 days or face a fine of 1,000 pounds. Following recent confusion on the issue, he stated that arrivals from France would not be exempt. He said that the quarantine measures wouldn't apply to arrivals from Ireland or the Channel Islands and there would be certain exemptions, for example for road hauliers and medical staff.

There's been another concert cancellation on the Riviera this summer. The Black Eyed Peas were due to perform at the Salle des Etoiles in Monaco on 26 July but the concert has now been called off because of the coronavirus outbreak. Holders of tickets can obtain a reimbursement at the place they bought their ticket.

In other news, the body of a man in his thirties has been found in the Roya river. He had been missing since Wednesday morning and a large scale search operation was mounted involving a helicopter and sniffer dogs. The man is believed to have been riding his bicycle and to have fallen several metres into the rivier.

A man in his seventies has died during a family hike in the arriere-pays of Nice. A Dragon 06 helicopter was called but the man couldn't be revived. It's believed he suffered a heart attack.

An environmental summit is to be held in Marseille next January. President Macron announced today that the "One Planet Summit" will be held during the World Conservation Congress. The Congress was originally planned for next month but was postponed because of the pandemic.

 

BUSINESS

The Hang Seng stock index fell by 5.6% on Friday after the Chinese government said it was planning to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has said that it's not setting an economic growth target for this year because of what it called "the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment". China has set a target for GDP growth every year since 1990. The economy contracted by 6.8% in the first quarter compared to the previous year.

In the UK, online shopping as a proportion of all retail sales reached a record high of 30.7% in April. Data published today by the Office for National Statistics also showed that overall UK retail sales fell by 18.1% in the month, which is the largest amount on record.

New figures show that the UK government borrowed 62.1 billion pounds in April, which is about six times the amount borrowed in April last year. The UK's furlough scheme cost 14 billion pounds in the month.

UK restaurant chain Carluccio's has been sold to a company which owns Giraffe restaurants, amongst other brands. Carluccio's had been badly affected by the coronavirus lockdown and was in administration. The new owner has reportedly bought thirty of Carluccio's sites out of the seventy which had been operating and has also acquired one restaurant in Ireland. The remaining sites will be closed.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... The two major groupings of international teams have announced that they are working together to try to re-align the rugby calendar. The Six Nations Teams of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy are in talks with the Sanzaar teams comprising of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.  In a joint statement they said "The nations have sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise the international and club game have shared mutual benefits."

Equestrian... This year's Burghley Horse Trials have been cancelled. The event was due to take place from 2-6 September. It's the first year the event has been cancelled since it began in 1961.

Football.. A further step has been taken towards the demolition and replacement of the San Siro stadium in Milan. Italy's heritage authority has announced that the arena does not have any architectural significance that would prevent its demolition. Plans have been submitted to build a new 60,000 seat stadium to replece the existing facility. The stadium is the home of both Inter Milan and AC Milan.

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