French and Riviera News Friday 13th November 2020

News

Storm Alex - The bodies of two inhabitants of the Roya valley have been identified after being discovered in Italy, bringing the toll of the exceptional floods caused by storm Alex on October 2nd to nine dead. The elderly couple had been washed away in their house in Breil-sur-Roya. Nine people are still missing according to the authorities. Storm Alex devastated parts of the Vésubie and Roya valleys, in the Nice hinterland. As colossal reconstruction of roads, bridges, water and electricity networks continue in the area, the estimated cost is thought to be at least one billion euros.

Lockdown - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced at least two more weeks of a nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The Prime Minister’s announcement came as a survey revealed on Thursday that more than half of French people have broken the regulations for the second lockdown. The poll showed that 60% had flouted the rules at least once, either by giving a false reason for going out on their self-signed permission slip or by meeting up with family and friends.

During the press conference the Prime Minister said that "massive economic support" would continue to be provided to closed businesses as the current health situation showed that the peak of hospitalizations may be reached at the beginning of next week and some easing measures might be possible from the 1st December. These measures however would be strictly limited to certain shops, with reinforced protocols. Bars, restaurants and sports halls would remain closed. He added that a travel certificate will still be necessary after the 1st December. Adding that it "wouldn't be reasonable" to hold big parties at the end of the year.

The Prime Minister said that at present one out of four deaths in France are due to Covid-19 while in recent days there has been one hospitalization with Covid-19 every 30 seconds and one admission to intensive care every three minutes. He called upon people to respect the confinement measures and said that he had asked the Minister of the Interior to increase the mobilization of the police.

Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer said that health protocols had been tightened in schools from the 2nd November. The Minister of Labour Elisabeth Bourne said that there is still room for improvement on teleworking and that "every day, every hour" of teleworking counts. A helpline has been set up for those who feel isolated due to teleworking. The number is 0800 13 00 00. She also announced an extension to unemployment insurance for those people coming to an end of their rights to such insurance.

Former Minister asks, “Do you think Charles de Gaulle would have closed small shops and bookstores”? -  Meanwhile speaking to French media former French Minister Ségolène Royal has openly criticized the government’s decision to close small shops and bookshops, questioning the decision by asking "Do you think that Charles de Gaulle would have closed small businesses and bookshops, or Jaques Chirac or Francois Mitterrand?

Ségolène Royal has made it clear that she is opposed to the closure of non-essential businesses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and has warned against the American multinational Amazon. Since October 30th nearly 200,000 businesses considered "non-essential" have had to close their doors. The former minister concluded that it seems that "there is no logic to closing small businesses yet allowing people to gather in supermarkets".

Public Health France has reservations following test carried out by consumer group UFC-Que choisir - Contrary to tests carried out by UFC-Que choisir and reports suggesting that surgical masks are machine washable (up to 10 washes at 60 degrees) and can be reused. Public Health France has expressed their reservations about the statement and reaffirmed that "surgical masks are intended for single use only".

Professor Didier Raoult – France’s National Board of Physicians has reportedly taken action against Professor Didier Raoult, director of University Hospital of Marseille, accusing him of a series of breaches of the code of ethics. The professor’s treatment against Covid-19 had initially raised immense hopes back in the spring but he is now to appear before the disciplinary chamber of the regional order in the coming months accused of having violated at least nine articles of the code of medical ethics.

In the professor's defense his lawyer said that "He did not endanger anyone" adding that “Today, we are putting Didier Raoult on trial, but he has not endangered anyone: his treatment is recognized by the international scientific community, it is prescribed routinely in Morocco, Senegal, and Mali adding that “the professor also tested everyone when, elsewhere in France, the demand was unable to be met”.

Covid-19 documentary causes controversy - Several French politicians and NGOs have severely criticized "Covid-19 Hold-up", a controversial documentary which denounces a "global conspiracy". The film released on Wednesday thanks to a crowdfunding campaign brings together a galaxy of skeptics and experts of all kinds. Their target: the measures taken against the Covid-19 crisis. The documentary, directed by former journalist Pierre Barnérias, goes as far as the final explanation of a "global conspiracy against which the pandemic is said to be the object". Barely put online, it has already been severely criticized. Several political leaders in France have condemned the "conspiracy propaganda" of the documentary. LREM MP Coralie Dubost, on Twitter wrote "this is not a documentary, it is not journalism, it is conspiratorial propaganda with a blockbuster budget. Shamefully endorsed by a few wandering politicians".

Police officer holds illegal party during lockdown - A police officer has been arrested and placed in police custody in Toulouse after organizing a party during lockdown. The officer was not only breaking current restrictions in force across France due to Covid-19 but according to reports, went on to attack officers who had been alerted by neighbouring residents due to the late-night noise. The incident occurred in the town of Saint-Jean, north of Toulouse. The officer is to appear before the criminal court in May for "violence against a person holding public authority".

Meanwhile according to reports this morning about twenty interns from Tarbes hospital in the Hautes-Pyrénées participated in a party on Tuesday evening despite the lockdown restrictions, in the residence of the Bigorre hospital center. An investigation has been opened.

Covid-19 website - The Prefect of the Var has issued a reminder that a government website exists which offers recommendations for your health and that of your loved ones in 3 minutes. The 'Mes Conseils Covid' website can be found at mesconseilscovid.sante.gouv.fr/.

The European museum night goes digital – Due to current lockdown restrictions across Europe this year’s “Night of Museums” on Saturday 14th November will be digital. The 16th edition invites the public to take part from the comfort of their sofa with virtual exhibitions, films and plays.

France will cross the threshold of ten million poor in 2020 - According to the annual report from the Secours Catholique in France published today "France will cross the threshold of ten million poor in 2020". The president of the Secours Catholique, Véronique Fayet, is alarmed by the economic and social consequences of the health crisis. Every year, the Secours Catholique publishes a report on the state of poverty in France, based on its own statistics. Fayet points out that “Poverty and inequalities have increased over the last ten years in France, which is still paying for the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and with the health crisis, difficult months are still to come". According to INSEE, France had 9.3 million people living below the monetary poverty line, or 1,063 euros per month, in 2018. 

Terror Attack - France will hold commemorations today for the 130 victims of the terror attacks in Paris five years ago. The shootings and bombings by three groups of Islamist extremists also wounded 350 people. The gunmen who stormed a rock concert at the Bataclan theatre killed 90 people, opening fire on fans packed in to hear the band Eagles of Death Metal. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Five years on, France is back on high alert because of Islamist extremism: there have been three attacks in recent weeks, including the beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty near his school last month. Three people died days later in another attack at a church in Nice.

All lights are green! As Grimaldi Forum passes 5th annual environmental audit - The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, the Principality’s Conference and Culture Centre is proud to announce that it has successfully passed the 5th annual environmental audit in its history with "flying colours". Back in 2008 the Grimaldi Forum Monaco was one of the very first European convention centres at the time to obtain the precious certification. All lights are green! With the fundamental objective since 2008 unchanged, which is to reduce the impact of building maintenance and events activity of the Grimaldi Forum on the environment. Monaco is constantly optimising its environmental management system. This is based on continuous improvement.

Sylvie Biancheri, Managing Director of the GFM, says that "every audit enables us to go even further and this one, which covers the period 2017-2020, is confirmation that the Grimaldi Forum is more efficient than ever, despite years of constant growth with absolutely record-breaking activity in 2018 and 2019, and despite the health crisis and the slowdown in event activity which is disrupting 2020”.

Business

Asian leaders are set to sign a landmark trade deal this weekend that has been more than a decade in the making. The deal includes the 10 members of the Asean Group of nations plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Together, the members make up nearly a third of the world’s population and account for 29 percent of global gross domestic product. The new free-trade zone will be larger than both the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement and the European Union. India had also been due to sign the deal but pulled out last year over concerns that lower tariffs could hurt domestic producers. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is due to be signed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference this weekend.

President Trump has issued an order banning US investments in Chinese firms that Washington suspects of having ties to the country’s armed forces. On Thursday, Mr Trump accused China of “increasingly exploiting” US investors to “finance the development and modernisation of its military”. The ban is to go into effect in January and could affect some of China’s biggest publicly-listed firms including China Telecom and the tech firm Hikvision. President Trump has spent a large amount of his four years in office trying to disentangle the United States from its close economic ties with China. Tariffs have been imposed on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods and sanctions have been imposed on tech firms. Relations between the two countries have also soured over issues including coronavirus and China’s actions in Hong Kong.

The US Commerce Department has postponed a ban on the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok that was due to come into force last night. The ban would have prevented the app from being downloaded but has now been delayed pending “further legal developments”. President Trump has said that he wants to see TikTok sold to a US firm and the app’s owner ByteDance has been in talks with both Oracle and Walmart but says that it requires more time. Mr Trump has accused the app’s owners of harvesting user data for the Chinese government but there has been no supporting evidence produced so far.

Sport 

Golf - Paul Casey is the clubhouse leader after the first day of the Masters at Augusta with more than half of the field yet to complete their first rounds. Casey fired a bogey-free 7 under par 65 to lead by two strokes from Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffle and Justin Thomas who are all on 5 under. Lee Westwood is a further shot back on 4 under alongside the defending champion Tiger Woods and Louis Oosthuizen. An electrical storm on the first day saw play delayed for three hours with heavy rain flooding parts of the course.

Football - Scotland have ended 23 years of hurt by qualifying for their first major international tournament since 1998. Steve Clarke’s side drew 1-1 away in Serbia in their Euro 2020 playoff final but came through 5-4 in a penalty shootout. It was bad news for Northern Ireland though who miss out on the tournament after losing 2-1 at home in extra time to Slovakia. In international friendly games last night England beat the Republic of Ireland 3-0 and Wales drew 0-0 with the USA.

Rugby Union - The first round of the Autumn Nations Cup is being played this weekend with Ireland against Wales in Group A tonight at 8pm. On Saturday England play Georgia in Group A at 4pm and Italy host Scotland in Group B at 1.45. On Sunday France play Fiji in Group B at 4.15.

Formula 1 - First practice for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix takes place at 9am this morning as Lewis Hamilton looks to move a step closer to a record equaling 7th Drivers’ Championship. Hamilton has a massive lead over second placed Valtteri Bottas and a win on Sunday will all but confirm him as world champion for the 7th time. Qualifying is at 1pm tomorrow with the race at 11.10am on Sunday.

Weather

Quite cloudy with some bright spells and light variable winds. Top temperatures 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 13 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend - Partially cloudy with highs of 16-18 degrees.

And finally

A new study has shown that letting children watch a lot of television can leave parents feeling 'more stressed' due to pester power from advertising. Researchers questioned more than 430 parents of children aged two to 12 about their children's viewing habits and their own stress levels. The more television children watch, the more ads they see - and the more likely they are to ask for things they've seen on the box during shopping trips, according to the research.

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