Evening Update Monday 21 December 2020

French Minister of Health Olivier Veran has said that the ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom was put in place because "a cautionary principle applies". Speaking on French radio this morning the minister said that it is possible that the new variant of the virus is already circulating in France and studies are being launched to find out if that is the case. The transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said earlier today that what he called "a solid health protocol" for arrivals from the UK will be put in place at European Union level shortly. france suspended all arrivals from the UK for 48 hours as from midnight last night. President Macron said that the new mutation of the virus is "an exceptional situation" and that we must "redouble our vigilance" on the evolution of the virus.

The European Medicines Agency has given it's approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen called it "a decisive moment in our efforts to deliver safe & effective vaccines to Europeans". She said that she expects the Commission will issue a decision on the vaccine by this evening.

The EU's Internal Markets Commissioner Thierry Breton has said that the UK could have been helped in fighting the coronavirus if it had remained in the EU. Speaking this afternoon, the French commissioner called the outbreak of the new virus strain "a tragedy".

President Macron has said that the government will meet on 13 January to discuss the return to school. Speaking during the Council of Ministers meeting this morning the President said that the purpose of the meetig will be to discuss the agenda for the first six months of the year and to establish priorities.

Socialist Benoît Payan has been elected mayor of Marseille following the resignation of Michèle Rub i rola. At 42, he becomes the youngest city councilor to be elected mayor of the city.

As part of its Flood Risk Prevention Plan, the City of Cannes has tested an innovative protection system against intense rains that can be installed in 10 minutes. The 300m metre long barrier is mobile, modular and easy to deploy. It will be stored in the municipal garage in La Bocca, and therefore near areas highly exposed to the risk of flooding.

French government statistics agency INSEE will be conducting a series of behavioral surveys in Antibes Juan-les-Pins in January. The surveys relate to matters such as household resources and costs. They will be conducted by telephone with  pre-selected people from January 4 to 27.

A man has been injured after being shot by a fellow hunter in the Vaucluse department at the weekend. According to local reports, a man has been questioned by police after apparently mistaking the hunter for an animal. The incident comes just weeks after a 23 year old British man was fatally shot by a hunter in the Lot department in south-west France.

 

BUSINESS

Major european stock indices fell earlier today after a large number of countries closed their borders to the UK, which has reported a new variant of the coronavirus. Shares in travel businesses were particularly badly hit.

There's been disruption today at Channel ports after France blocked arrivals of UK passengers over concerns about the new coronavirus variant. Trucks currently are not able to cross by sea or by Eurotunnel. The Port of Dover has been closed to outbound traffic. Police have put Operation Stack in place, which is a system to park lorries on the southbound carriageway of the M20 motorway in Kent to help with the build-up of traffic. The UK Department of Transport has been preparing Manston Airport in Kent as a lorry park.

The European Commission has approved the merger between Fiat Chrysler and French car manufacturer PSA. The Commission gave its approval subject to certain provisions to preserve competition. The combined group will be the world's fourth largest automobile manufacturer.


SPORT

Cricket.... Legendary South Africa player Jacques Kallis is joining England as batting consultant for their tour of Sri Lanka. The two Tests will be played in Galle starting on 14 January and 22 January.

Rugby Union... Bath have signed Jamie Bhatti from Edinburgh for the rest of this season. The Scotland international has previously played for both Ayr and Glasgow Warriors.

Golf... Lee Westwood has been named 2020 European Tour Golfer of the Year. The 47-year-old has now won the award four times.

Motorsports...  Lewis Hamilton says that he's lost over 6kg over the past two months - four of which he attributes to suffering from Covid-19. Hamilton posted a photo of himself in the gym on Instagram, saying that he's "starting from a low point in strength", but that he's determined to get his strength back and "to be 100% again".
 

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