Evening Update Tuesday 22 December 2020

The French and British governments have this evening reached an agreement regarding travel to France from the UK after the recent outbreak of a new variant of the coronavirus in England. French Prime Minister Jean Castex said this evening that from midnight tonight the only people who will be authorised to travel to France or transit through France from the UK will be French nationals and nationals of the European Area, as well as British or third country nationals who usually reside in France, the EU or European Area or have to make essential trips. All such travellers will have to have a negative coronavirus test of less than 72 hours before departure.

The restrictions will apply until at least 6 January, subject to possible changes at EU or bilateral level prior to that date. As regards the type of Covid-19 tests required, the French Minister for Europe, Clement Beaune, tweeted that entry would be "subject to a negative Covid test (PCR or recognized antigen)". The French government is expected to provide more details regarding acceptable types of test shortly.

French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri said planes, boats and Eurostar trains would resume services on Wednesday morning.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that more details regarding the crossing of the Channel by hauliers would be released later, but urged them not to go to Kent.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has issued a recommendation that "all non-essential travel to and from the UK should be discouraged" to limit the further spread of the new strain of the virus. However, it added that essential travel and transit of passengers should be facilitated.

Two people are in hospital after an apartment fire in Nice. The fire broke out early this morning in the apartment on the top floor of a building on Avenue Saint-Augustin, near the airport. Firefighters said that one of the victims in hospital is suffering from burns while the other is suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Nice City Council has approved the installation of 175 new emergency terminals in front of all private and public schools in Nice by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The move comes one year after the installation of 16 emergency call points around Nice directly connected to the municipal police and Urban Supervision Centre. The existing terminals were used 600 times in 12 months, including to alert authorities to the attack at the Notre Dame Basilica on 29 October. The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi expressed his thanks to the French government, which is financing 80% of the system. He said that while the city of Nice has been planning the installations for a long time, state support has enabled the speeding up of its implementation.

The westbound carriageway of the A8 motorway was closed late last night because of a vehicle on fire. Traffic was taken off the motorway at the exit for Nice Airport while firefighters dealt with the blaze. No injuries were reported.

The City of Cannes has announced the installation of a new "talking" camera. The town hall said that the camera equipped with a loudspeaker, which will be installed on the Place du Commandant Maria, will "contribute to the quality of life of residents and the safety of families". Cannes has 690 cameras, meaning that it has the densest public video surveillance in France with 1 camera for every 109 inhabitants.

Several municipalities on the Riviera have been recognized as beneficiaries of a state of natural disaster by the French government.  Areas include some of those affected by Storm Alex which hit the region in early October. The interministerial decree was published in the official journal of the French Republic today and victims have 10 days from publication to file an estimate of their losses with their insurance companies in order to benefit from the compensation. Further details can be found on the French government's website https://www.alpes-maritimes.gouv.fr/Actualites/Reconnaissance-de-l-etat-de-catastrophe-naturelle-intemperies-2019-20202

Meanwhile, Christian Estrosi has this morning visited the scene of a landslide that occurred last night in the Tinee valley, upstream from Saint Sauveur. Teams from the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole are working to secure the area and remove debris from the road in order to restore traffic as soon as possible.

Almost 3,000 people have submitted applications under a scheme to give French citizenship to foreign nationals in France who have been on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus. The Interior Ministry said that 2,890 applications have been submitted to prefectures across the country. The applications, which include those made by housekeepers, childcare personnel, cashiers and health professionals are currently under review. So far, 74 people have acquired French nationality under the scheme.

 

BUSINESS

More than 1,500 lorries are waiting to leave the UK in Kent after France stopped arrivals from the UK for 48 hours from midnight last Sunday because of the new coronavirus variant. The UK government said this morning that 650 lorries are being held on the M20, with a further 873 at a nearby lorry park. Harwich in Essex is also seeing a build up of lorries as drivers divert from Dover. On the other side of the Channel, reports say that traffic going from Calais to Dover is far below normal levels.

UK government borrowing reached the highest November figure since comparable records begain in 1993. The Office for National Statistics said borrowing hit £31.6bn in the month.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... England, Scotland and Wales will field a combined GB Sevens team for the 2021 season. The men's and women's teams will compete in the HSBC World Sevens Series before and after the Olympics in Japan.

The RFU has said that about one in five professional rugby union players in England suffered concussion during the 2018-19 season. The organization released figures today showing that 20.4% of players sustained at least one match concussion, up from 16% in the previous season.

Cricket... Pakistan have beaten New Zealand by four wickets in the final International Twenty20 match of the series. Mohammad Rizwan hit 89 off 59 balls. The final score was New Zealand 173-7 and Pakistan 177-6.

Golf...The sport's governing body in Wales has  asked the Welsh Government to lift the current ban on playing golf. Under level four rules in Wales, golf clubs have closed but Wales Golf says that the playing of golf should be permitted, as is the case in England and Scotland.

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