Evening Update Wednesday 20 May 2020

The French Minister of Health Olivier Veran has admitted to shortcomings in the reform of health services. Speaking earlier today after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, he said that the government had not been "fast enough" or "strong enough" in reforming hospitals in recent years. He also said that he wished to put pay increases in place for hospital staff. He added that, as regards the classification of red and green departments, the government is "waiting until the end of this first period of lifting of containment...to find out what the situation is, territory by territory".

The Regional Health Agency has said that there have been no new deaths from the coronavirus in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes in the past day and the number of sufferers in hospital continues to decline. In the Alpes Maritimes, 137 people are still in hospital with the virus, which is the lowest since the beginning of April. In the Var, the number is 165, which is the lowest since near the end of March.

The French Ministry of Labour's statistics office has said that 8.6 million workers were on partial unemployment in April. The scheme was being used by approximately seventy per cent of French businesses.

The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has today been involved in the distribution of aid to disadvantaged people including the homeless. Clothing was given out which had been purchased from local stores with donations made under the town hall's Helpcommerces scheme. Donations of just over 35,000 euros were used to buy the clothing. The scheme aims to help local businesses at the same time as helping the disadvantaged.

The statue of Apollo in the Place Massena in Nice has been given a mask. Mayor Christian Estrosi thanked the association representing the creator of the seven metre high sculpture, Alfred Janniot, for allowing Apollo "to respect this essential and compulsory barrier gesture".

Three municipalities in the Morbihan department in Brittany have asked the prefecture for permission to close their beaches, which were only reopened last weekend. The prefecture said that what it called "unacceptable behaviour" had been observed, including lack of respect for social distancing and static groups of people on the beaches.

In other news, an accident on the A8 motorway involving three vehicles caused disruption to traffic this lunchtime. The accident occurred between the Nice Saint-Isidore payage and the Canta-Galet tunnel on the carriageway towards Italy. The Voie Mathis in Nice was also disrupted this morning because of emergency repair work being carried out.

The Monaco Grand Prix circuit is going to be closed to traffic and pedestrians this Sunday morning. A film is being made featuring Monaco Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc, meaning that the streets forming the circuit will be closed from 6.45am to 9am on Sunday.

The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has said that a new aircraft carrier to replace the Charles de Gaulle will be brought into service in 2038. The Charles de Gaulle, which is based in Toulon, is the country's only aircraft carrier and the only nuclear powered warship built in Europe. It entered service in 2001. The minister said that four other navy ships would be delivered between 2022 and 2029.

Meteo France have a Yellow weather warning for storms in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes until 9pm this evening.


BUSINESS

Aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce has announced the loss of 9,000 jobs amounting to almost one-fifth of its workforce. The losses will reportedly mostly affect it civil aerospace plant in Derby. The company said that it will take "several years" for the airline industry to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics in the UK has released inflation figures for the month of April, showing the lowest rate of inflation for almost four years. Consumer price inflation in April was 0.8%, down from 1.5% the previous month. Lower petrol and diesel prices and lower energy bills, were the main reasons for the lower figure.

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has reported a fall in clothing sales of 75% in the six weeks to 9 May, with food sales down 8.8% although the company said that many of its Simply Food stores were trading strongly. Pre-tax profits for the year to March fell to £403m from £511m in the previous year.


SPORT

Football... Further details have emerged of players and staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Watford confirmed a player and two members of staff had tested positive but said they would not be naming those involved. Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan is also amongst the six positive Premier League cases but is reported to currently be asymptomatic.

Cricket... Some of the England players are expected to return to training tomorrow. Up to 18 bowlers will take part in staggered sessions across seven grounds. Batsmen and wicketkeepers will return to individual training from 1 June.

Horse Racing... French government approval for racing has been withdrawn from areas still affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Edouard de Rothschild, president of France Galop, French racing's governing body, said that the decision was "inexplicable and irrational". France Galop said that it is working on reorganisation plans for the May and June calendar and will announce as soon as possible where the meetings that were scheduled in the red zone will take place. It added that the calendar "is likely to change as soon as a red department turns green."

Cycling... The 2020 Prudential RideLondon cycling festival has been cancelled because of coronavirus. The event was due to take place on 15-16 August.

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