Evening Update Wednesday 15 April 2020

The Chairman of the French Scientific Council has said that 18 million "at risk" people will need to remain confined after the 11th of May. The Scientific Council advises the French authorities on the coronavirus outbreak. Chairman Jean-François Delfraissy said that this should include people older than "65 or 70" years of age, people with long-term illnesses and what he referred to as "young subjects with a pathology, but also obese". He also said that the end of confinement should be postponed if certain conditions aren't met. These included a suffiecient number of tests being available and a contact tracking system being established. He also said he expected 10,000 to 15,000 new infections per day from "mid May or late May". M. Delfraissy made the remarks while addressing the French senate law commission this afternoon.

The French government has announced a bonus of 1,500 euros for certain healthcare workers. Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe made the announcement this afternoon after a meeting of the Council of Minsters. The bonus will be paid free of deductions to caregivers in the departments most affected by the virus outbreak. He said that other health personnel will receive a bonus of 500 euros free of charges.

The Prime Minister also announced a payment to help the poorest households. A payment of 150 euros plus 100 euros per child will be made to households covered by the RSA or SSA programmes on the 15th of May. Other households who are not part of those programmes but who receive housing benefit will be paid 100 euros per child. M. Phillipe said that 4 million households will benefit.

The French Minister of Labor Muriel Pénicaud said today that 8.7 million people in France are now on partial unemployment. She said that this affected 732,000 businesses and the cost currently amounts to 24 billion euros.

The Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolitain area has announced that following the delivery of equipment received on Monday in Nice by cargo plane, 50,000 masks were this morning given to the 48 other municipalities of the metropolitain area. That number is in addition to the 20,000 already allocated since the start of the crisis.

A total of 24 people at the Cannes police station have so far tested positive for Covid-19 according to a police union. Screening tests on employees at the station began yesterday. The union said it wanted to thank the mayor and the town of Cannes for providing protective masks in order to overcome what it called "the shortcomings" of the Ministry of the Interior.

The number of people in prison in France as gone down by almost 10,000 in one month. The fall in numbers is mostly down to early releases and a fall in judicial activity because of the pandemic. The prison population in France now numbers 62,650 people. The decrease in numbers will help alleviate prison overcrowding which resulted in condemnation from the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year.

In a statement today, Amazon has said that it will appeal a court ruling that ordered it to limit its deliveries in France to essential goods only. A court in Nanterre ordered the company to deliver only food, hygiene and medical products in France as of yesterday. It said that this is to allow an assessment of whether Amazon is taking adequate precautions to protect its staff during the pandemic. In the statement, the company said it was "puzzled by the court ruling given the hard evidence brought forward regarding security measures put in place" to protect its employees.

The Pointu Festival in Six-Fours has been cancelled this year. The rock festival was due to take place in July. The Nuits Carre in Antibes, which was due to take place in Antibes at the end of June has also been cancelled and organizers say that the terms of reimbursement of tickets already purchased will be communicated as soon as possible.

President Macron has reaffirmed his commitment to rebuild Notre Dame cathederal in Paris within 5 years. He made the comment in a video posted online today to mark the first anniversary of the fire which severely damaged the cathederal.


BUSINESS

Bank of America has reported a fall in profits of 45% year on year. The loss was largely the result of increased provisions against loan losses.

The United States Government has agreed a rescue package for 10 of the country's biggest airlines. The deal, worth about 25 billion dollars will be used to pay employees and will be provided through a combination of low-cost loans and direct grants.

The UK government has given formal approval for construction work on the highly controvertial HS2 rail project to begin, despite lockdown measures. Construction workers on site will be observing Public Health England's advice during the coronavirus outbreak.


SPORT

Cycling... It's been confirmed this afternoon that the Tour de France is being postponed. A statement by the organisers said that following President Macron's address regarding the banning of large scale events until mid-July, it had been decided to postpone the Tour de France to Saturday 29th August to Sunday 20th September 2020. The organisers said that the Tour will still begin in Nice and will follow the same route as originally planned.

Football... Today marks 31 years since the Hillsborough disaster. A memorial service was due to take place at Anfield today but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 96 people lost their lives at Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.

The chief executive of Reading, Nigel Howe and first team manager Mark Bowen have agreed "substantial" wage deferrals for April, May and June to help the club’s cash flow situation during the coronavirus pandemic. Other senior non-playing staff have agreed similar deferrals.

Former Tottenham and England striker Jimmy Greaves has been released from hospital. Greaves, who is 80 years old, had been in hospital since 7 April. A statement from Tottenham didn't state the reason for his admission to hospital but said that he had "not tested positive for Covid-19 nor suffered another stroke".

 

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