French and Riviera News Friday 27th November 2020

News

Easing of lockdown - Prime Minister Jean Castex has given details on the first phase of easing lockdown measures in France from tomorrow Saturday 28th November.

Firstly, all shops and services previously considered “non-essential” will reopen and be allowed to stay open until 9pm. Driving schools will be able to resume activity and estate agents will be allowed to carry out visits. Places of worship will reopen gradually with a limit of 30 people at a time.

Outdoor sporting activities such as golf, tennis and water sports will resume from Saturday but will be limited to three hours and within 20 kilometres from your home. Ski resorts will be open from tomorrow, but the slopes will remain closed.

The “attestation” will still be required as proof as to why you are circulating outside of your home and will still allow as at present, an essential visit to assist a person in need or to carry out an essential activity with no limit on time or distance for example going to work.

It would appear that despite confusion over what you can and can’t do, the key to the easing of lockdown measures is to remember that the advice is to “stay at home as much as possible” and to ask yourself “if your reason for leaving home is essential” as part of a collective attempt in the fight against Covid-19 and “in support of those who on a daily basis are on the frontline saving lives”.  

The second phase of the easing of lockdown measures is planned for December 15th, this is only if the number of new cases of Covid-19 is below 5,000 and if the number of patients in intensive care is below 3,000. Should this be the case then from this date cinemas, theatres and museums will reopen, the attestation will be abolished and a curfew from 9pm to 7am introduced. 

As far as Christmas and News Year is concerned it will be necessary to limit the number of guests at Christmas and New Year.

Financial aid - During the press conference the Prime Minister announced the creation of 20,000 student jobs and a guaranteed monthly allowance for a maximum of 484 euros for one year to young people aged 16 to 25 who are "neither in employment, nor studying or in training" and who are "in a financially precarious situation".

For seasonal, event and catering extras who "worked a lot" last year, there will be a "guaranteed income of 900 euros per month" until February 2021. The Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, confirmed that the aid will concern "those who worked more than 60% of the time in 2019" and "who could not work enough in 2020 due to the health crisis.

An additional aid "from 15% to 20%" of turnover will be granted from December to companies in sectors affected by the crisis such as hotels, tourism or events, and whose turnover has fallen "at least by half”.  Jean Castex added that nightclubs would be supported by this new solidarity fund.

Covid-19 - Meanwhile the Minister of Health Olivier Véran affirmed his satisfaction on Thursday saying that there was a new drop in the number of intensive care admissions. Public Health France identified 192 new admissions due to Covid-19 in 24 hours on Thursday, compared to 258 on Wednesday.

While overall health data on the pandemic has shown a slight improvement the Minister of Health recalled that “efforts should not be relaxed”, because the "second wave is not over".

IBM - In its global restructuring IBM is expected to cut 10,000 jobs in Europe. At a meeting on November 20th IBM France announced numbers which remain to be confirmed with between 1,180 to 1,385 positions set to disappear including 100 to 150 in the Alpes Maritimes region. Unions say that they hope the departures will be on a voluntary basis.

It was back in 1962 that IBM established its headquarters in La Gaude in the Alpes Maritimes. The next meeting with unions is planned for December 8th to specify consequences of the restructuration.

Suspension of several police officers filmed beating up a black music producer - France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered the suspension of several police officers who were filmed beating up a black music producer.

Footage posted by the online shows the man, identified only as Michel, being repeatedly beaten as he tried to enter a music studio in Paris.

The incident comes as concern grows over a new French bill that would criminalise filming police. The legislation, which is being pushed by the government, has prompted protests from civil liberties groups and journalists.

In a post of Twitter the minister said that the IGPN police watchdog was investigating the alleged assault, which took place on Saturday as the man was being arrested.

Accents - The French lower house of parliament has approved a law banning discrimination based on a person's accent, calling the practice "a form of racism".

The text, adds accents to the list of causes of actionable discrimination, along with racism, sexism and discrimination against the disabled. The maximum penalty proposed in the new legislation is three years' imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.

The law, was the subject of animated debate in the house, despite an overwhelming vote.

Some members of parliament denounced the fact that too many broadcasters with a strong accent get pigeonholed into reporting on rugby or reading the weather bulletin.

And last month Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left France Insoumise movement, was caught on camera being rude to a journalist with a southern accent who asked him a question at the National Assembly.

Melenchon said "Can someone ask me a question in French? And (make it) a bit more understandable...," addressing a group of reporters in a video clip which was widely circulated on social media.

Weather warning - Météo-France has warned of “Mediterranean espisodes” from this evening and for Saturday in Corsica and the Pyrénées-Orientales placing both areas on an orange weather alert with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast.

Business

The annual Black Friday sales bonanza is here but with experts warning consumers to shop around and highlighting ‘deals’ which in reality are not what they may seem to be.

This year ,experts say that an army of computer  bots will be working in the background ready to snap up deals for those wishing to make a profit.

Bots are constantly running software programmes ,scanning the pages of websites around the world for the exact second that an item goes on sale and then alerting owners so that they can beat the crowd.

Everything from toys to large electrical items are being snapped up by bots and their use is becoming more and more widespread.

Retail analysts are also warning consumers that some deals which appear to be good are not quite as they seem with many sale items available at cheaper prices at other times of the year.

Nevertheless ,Black Friday represents the start of the most important period of the year for retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

The majority of sales are expected to take place online this year with many retail outlets still closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

 

The Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is to undergo a new global trial after critics questioned claims that it could protect up to 90 percent of people against Covid-19.Sir John Bell ,Oxford’s regius professor of medicine and the UK government’s life sciences adviser has dismissed suggestions that the previous trial had not been properly set up or reported.

He said that the results had not been “cooked up” and added that he hoped the full ,peer reviewed data would be published in the Lancet Medical Journal this weekend.

AstraZeneca’s share price dropped on the news with one US analyst speculating that the vaccine would never be licensed in America and that the firm had “embellished” the results.

News of the fresh global trial came after the headline figure for the vaccine’s overall efficacy was put at 70 percent.

However a sub-set of some 3,000 people in the UK given a lower dose-originally by accident ,saw the efficacy rise to 90 percent.

The low dose trial didn’t include anyone over  55 which has led to concerns that age may have been a factor.

And-Walt Disney has said that it will lay off 32,000 workers at its theme parks as the firm struggles with limited custom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure is an increase from the 28,000 that Disney announced in September.

The layoffs will come in the first half of 2021 with the firm still facing customer number restrictions or complete closure in some locations.

Earlier this month ,the firm said that it would be furloughing additional workers from its theme park in southern California due to uncertainty over when the state would allow parks to reopen.

Sport

Football-In the Europa League last night Spurs continued their good run of form with a 4-0 victory over Ludogorets Razgrad in Group  J. Arsenal were 3-0 winners at Molde in Group B and Leicester drew 3-3 at Sporting Braga in Group G.

Rangers drew 2-2 with Benfica in Group D but Celtic were beaten 4-1 at Sparta Prague in Group H.

Nice are out of the competition after losing 3-1 at home to Sparta Prague in Group C.

In the English Premier League this weekend Crystal Palace play Newcastle tonight.

On Saturday Brighton host Liverpool.Manchester City play Burnley.Everton play Leeds and West Brom play Sheffield United.

On Sunday Southampton play Manchester United.Chelsea host Spurs and Arsenal play Wolves.

Leicester play Fulham and West Ham play Aston Villa on Monday night.

Cricket- Australia are playing  India in the first one day international in Sydney.

Australia won the toss and decided to bat.

They’d reached 97 without loss after 18 overs.

Later today South Africa play England in the first T20 in Cape Town. The match ,which starts at 5pm French time is being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rugby Union-The Autumn Nations Cup continues this weekend with Wales against England at 5pm tomorrow.

Scotland have been awarded a 28-0 victory over Fiji with the game in Group B called off because of a coronavirus outbreak in the Fiji camp.

France play Italy in Paris at 9.10 tomorrow night in Group B.

On Sunday Ireland play Georgia in Group A.

All eyes will be on the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship tomorrow morning with Argentina playing New Zealand.

The All Blacks have lost successive Tests against Argentina and Australia and there are growing suggestions that they might have chosen the wrong coach to replace Steve Hanson.

Ian Foster took over at the end of the 2019 World Cup after having served as Hanson’s right-hand man for 8 years but results have been disappointing of late.

The match kicks off at 9.45 French time tomorrow morning.

There’s one game in the Gallagher Premiership in England tonight.Newcastle play Sale.

Formula 1-First practice for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix takes place at noon today with second practice at 4pm.

Qualifying is at 3pm tomorrow with the race at 3.10 on Sunday.

Drivers will be competing for individual pride this weekend with both the constructors and drivers’ championships already wrapped up.

The race is controversial because of Bahrain’s alleged human rights abuses.

Lewis Hamilton has said this morning that the sport must do more to promote the issue.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate to strong easterly winds.

Top temperature 16 degrees.

Overnight lows of 13 degrees with rain spreading across the region.

The weekend-Windy with rain tomorrow morning ,clearing during the afternoon.Fine on Sunday. Highs of 14-16 degrees.

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