Evening Update Tuesday 5 May 2020

President Macron has said that "we will know at the beginning of June" where it will be possible to go on holiday. He said that international travel will be limited during the summer holidays, to perhaps within Europe or "even in a more restricted area". He said that at the moment it is too early to say "whether we will have a holiday". Speaking after a visit to a school in the Yvelines department today, he said that mayors who do not wish to open their schools on the 11 May will not be forced to do so. A meeting of the Defence Council will take place on Thursday and further decisions regarding deconfinement will be made afterwards. He added that after three weeks of deconfinement "we will see if we have a strong comeback in emergencies and we will be able to see if we have control, if we can reopen a little more or, on the contrary, close certain areas of activity".

The French Ministry of Sports has today set out restrictions governing the resumption of sporting activities after 11 May. As regards physical distancing, there must be a distance of at least 10 meters between two people for cycling and jogging activities; a sufficient physical distance of approximately 4 m2 for outdoor activities such as tennis, yoga and fitness for example. The activities are subject to various other restrictions such as being outdoors, involving a maximum of ten people and not using changing rooms. The full text released by the ministry today can be found at http://sports.gouv.fr/presse/article/reprise-de-l-activite-sportive  Additional specifications depending on the activity will be provided soon by the Ministry of Sports.

The Secretary of State for Digital has said that the StopCovid app will be ready on June 2. A testing phase will begin next week before being presented to deputies on May 25. The app aims to enable the tracing of people who have been in contact with someone suffering from the virus.

Distribution of protective masks has started in the Gulf of St Tropez today. Door to door distribution began in St Tropez itself this morning to those who had registered. Registration is still possible by filling in an online form at https://www.saint-tropez.fr/formulaire-masques or by filling in the paper form available in open shops (food, tobacco and kiosk) and dropping it in the town hall mailbox, to the right of the door, or by calling the town hall reception on 04 84 55 90 00. Distribution of masks in other communes in the area will be taking place over the next few days.

Meanwhile, in Toulon, the registration platform for mask distribution was a victim of its own success this morning. The town hall sent out a message on Twitter saying that several thousand people were trying to connect simultaneously. It asked for patience and said that there will be a mask for all Toulon residents. Registration by telephone was also saturated.

A clinical trial of an exisiting drug is beginning in Paris to test it's effectiveness in treating Covid-19. The trial of Chlorpromazine, which is used to treat psychological disorders, will involve 40 people and will last about one month. It's the first time in the world that a trial of the drug has taken place with the aim of establishing its effectiveness against Covid-19.

The French Navy has said that virtually all of the crew of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle who tested positive for the coronavirus have now been cured. 1,081 crew of the carrier and its strike group had tested positive, but only two now remain in hospital, including one person in intensive care. 18 others are still in confinement.

In other news, the Elysee has announced that a French legionnaire has been killed in action in Mali. He was taking part in an operation against jihadist forces yesterday and was part of a regiment based in the Bouches du Rhone. Another legionnaire from the same regiment lost his life last week as a result of injuries sustained in operations in Mali.

 

BUSINESS

Virgin Atlantic is planning to make almost one third of its staff redundant and close its operations at Gatwick Airport. The airline said that it plans to cut up to 3,150 jobs and move leisure flights to Heathrow. It will continue flying from Manchester Airport. It also plans to reduce the size of its fleet of aircraft from 45 to 35 by the summer of 2022. Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Quantas has said that a full recovery in international travel could take years. Alan Joyce said that the airline had indefinitely suspended its plans to launch direct long haul flights from Australia to Europe and New York, which would have been the longest direct flights in the world.

French bank BNP Paribas has said that its net income could fall by 15 to 20 per cent this year. The estimate is better than many analysts had been expecting. Announcing its results for the first quarter, the bank said it made a provision of 502 million euros against loan losses. First quarter net income fell by 33% compared with the same period last year.

In a long awaited judgement, the German Constitutional Court has ruled on a case concerning the European Central Bank's bond-buying programme over recent years. It said a "proportionality assesment" must be carried out and threatened to block new bond purchases unless the assesment was carried out by the ECB within 3 months.

The Australian government has said that it expects the country's economy to shrink by 10% in the second quarter. Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the government expects unemployment to reach 10% as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

In the UK, new car registrations have fallen to their lowest level since just after the Second World War. According to new data from The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 4,321 cars were registered in the month of April, which is the lowest monthly level since 1946.

 

SPORT

Cycling... French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said earlier today that there is no guarantee that the Tour de France will go ahead this year. Speaking to French television, she said that many people are "begging her to keep the Tour" even behind closed doors. She said “I hope it will take place but I am not sure. We do not know what the epidemic will be like after lockdown.”  The world governing body for sports cycling, the UCI, has prevoiusly announced that the Tour has been rescheduled to begin on 29 August. The UCI updated the cycling calendar today to show revised dates for two other major races. The Giro d'Italia will run from 3-25 October and the Vuelta a Espana from 20 October to 8 November.

Rugby Union... Sam Cane has been named as the new captain of the All Blacks. Cane was part of the team that won the World Cup in 2015. He replaces Kieran Read who retired after last year's World Cup.

Chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, Bill Sweeney, has said that it will suffer revenue losses of £107m if the 2020 autumn internationals are cancelled. He said the lost revenue would be £85m if matches were played behind closed doors without fans.

Football...The Chairman of the English Football League has said that clubs face "a black hole" of 200 million pounds by September. Appearing before a government committe, Rick Parry said that the season needs to be concluded before July 31 because of contractual reasons.

Horse Racing... Racing is set to resume next Monday in Paris, after being suspended since March 17. Authorization has been given to stage races at the Longchamp racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne but they will be run without any spectators being present.

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