French government to announce new restrictions this evening - French Prime Minister Jean Castex will this evening announce decisions taken by the government following Wednesday's defence council meeting. At 6pm Castex is expected to give an update on the health situation in France along with new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, as well as plans to try and contain the more aggressive strain of the virus which is now circulating in France, with cases being detected in the Alpes-Maritimes and also the Var. According to reports two family clusters in Biot and Fréjus have been identified, in both cases, it was a young man in his twenties, studying in the UK who upon his return to the region infected those around him.
Health authorities have said that the health situation in France has not improved over the last weeks, with numbers of new cases hovering around 20,000, although the rate of infection has remained stable. A new full lockdown is not favoured by the government and Castex is likely to announce stricter measures with the new curfew of 6pm, which currently affects 25 departments, being extended throughout France. There is also the possibility of a lockdown at weekends and a limit on travel between regions, for those departments the worst affected.
Vaccination - As far as the vaccination campaign is concerned France started vaccinating elderly people in nursing homes as well as staff on 26th December. Phase 2 of the campaign started in January, with health professionals over 50 and on Monday 18th January, all people over 75 will be able to be vaccinated. However, the campaign for this age group has started earlier in the Alpes Maritimes with the first vaccinations being carried out on Wednesday for the over 75s. According to the medical platform Doctolib the rest of the population will have to wait “until spring”. On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, reacted to criticism of the vaccination campaign in France saying that “those who say it’s not going fast enough should note that the government is acting responsibly and that it takes longer than a tweet”.
Monaco - In Monaco, the vaccination campaign is already underway with the elderly in nursing homes, residents over 75 and those between 65 and 74 years old with comorbidities. For any questions about the vaccination campaign you can call +377 92 05 55 00 from 8am to 8pm or go to the gouv.mc website.
On Wednesday, the Principality declared 33 new cases of Covid-19 bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,128. Twenty-nine people are currently hospitalized and 122 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.
Rentals to be prohibited – The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, has said that he has requested from the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes a decree prohibiting seasonal rentals in the region for the upcoming February holidays. Estrosi added that if the state refuses to do so, the city of Nice will pass a municipal by-law. He also said that "faced with the worrying situation of the department and Nice in terms of health", he would like reinforced protection measures on travel for the February holidays.
Rail traffic interrupted for four hours – In other news, rail traffic in the region has been interrupted after a man had installed himself on the tracks not far from the station in Antibes. The incident occurred at 4pm on Wednesday with trains halted in both directions for four hours while emergency service intervened. As a precaution power was cut and coaches were made available to passengers as an alternative.
Investigation - An investigation has been opened against the French Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti for alleged "illegal taking of interest". The investigation centres around allegations of conflicts of interest in connection with his former role as lawyer. The minister has previously denied the accusations.
Recycling programme - A Christmas tree recycling programme in Nice has resulted in the collection of 3,400 trees. Deputy Mayor of Nice Pierre-Paul Leonelli said that the collected trees would produce five tonnes of compost and thanked local residents for their participation.
New York City has announced that it’s cutting its financial ties with the Trump Organisation, joining a growing list of corporations who are turning their back on the US President who was impeached for a second time on Wednesday. The firm has contracts with New York City to run two skating rinks, a carousel and a golf course. On Wednesday, the Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio said that the city will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organisation. As Mr Trump prepares to leave office next week, his problems away from the White House are mounting. Earlier this week both Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank said that they were ending their relationship with the US President and the process of closing his accounts were underway. The US Professional Golf Association has said that it’s moving the 2022 US PGA Championship from Mr Trump’s golf course in New Jersey and he’s also facing a number of civil court battles for alleged financial irregularities. The US House of Representatives voted to impeach the President for a second time on Wednesday. He’ll now face a Senate trial in the early days of Joe Biden’s occupancy of the White House which could see him banned from running for office for life.
The US government posted a record December budget deficit of 144 billion dollars due to high outlays on coronavirus relief and unemployment spending according to figures released by the Treasury Department. The Treasury said that the December deficit compares with a 13 billion dollar deficit in December 2019 before the Covid-19 epidemic started in the United States. The cumulative US deficit for the first three months of fiscal 2021 which started on October the 1st hit 573 billion dollars-up from 357 billion at the same time last year. Revenues were up slightly while outlays were up by 18 percent at 1.376 trillion dollars.
The UK Food and Drink Federation has warned the government that Brexit red tape is set to increase supply chain costs. The Federation said that the costs would either be passed on to consumers or absorbed by retailers. Other business bodies have warned of further shortages in Northern Ireland and more costs for manufacturers. The extra supply chain costs are due to increased paperwork including customs clearance with the Federation warning that unless there’s some change to the trade deal with the EU, supply chains will have to be completely re-engineered over the next 6 to 9 months.
Cricket - It’s day 1 of the first Test between Sri Lanka and England in Galle. Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. The home side had been reduced to 16-2 after just 7 overs with Stuart Broad taking the wickets of Thirimanne and Mendis.
Football - There were 2 games in the English Premier League last night. Manchester City beat Brighton 1-0 and Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw by Fulham. There’s one game tonight. Arsenal play Crystal Palace.
Rugby Union - The England prop Kyle Sinckler will miss the start of the 6 Nations after being banned for 2 weeks for swearing at a referee. Sinckler was sanctioned for failing to respect the authority of a match official during the Premiership game between Bristol and Exeter. He contested the charge but was found guilty by a disciplinary panel and will miss England’s 6 Nations opener against Scotland on February 6th.
Tennis - Great Britain’s Francesca Jones has qualified for the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time ever. Jones beat Lu Jiajing of China in qualifying for the Australian Open and will take her place in round one of the competition on the 8th February.
Racing - Prince Khalid Abdullah who owned and bred a number of great racehorses including Frankel and Enable has died at the age of 83. The Saudi Prince’s green, pink and white colours were carried to victory in 118 Group or Grade one races. The racing community said that the Prince would be remembered as a quiet, dignified and benevolent man whose horses spoke for him. On racecards he preferred to be known simply as Mr K. Abdullah.
Clear skies with light variable winds in the Alpes-Maritimes and a strong Mistral across the Var gusting at up to 90 km/h in coastal areas. Top temperature 13 degrees. Overnight lows of 8 degrees with rain spreading across the region.
Friday and the start of the weekend - Rain tomorrow giving way to sunshine and showers. Cloudy on Saturday. Highs of 9-11 degrees.