French and Riviera News Thursday 14th May 2020

Local News

Number of positive cases of Covid 19 in the PACA - 29 people have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region in the past 24 hours, with the number of cases at its lowest in the PACA, according to figures from the Regional Health Agency. The daily decline in the number of people being admitted to hospital continues, with 35 less in 24 hours and the number of intensive care patients continues to drop: 156 compared to 169 patients the day before. Since February 28th, 15,987 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the PACA region. 4,325 people have returned home.

Monaco Scientific Centre - The Monaco Scientific Center (CSM) has announced that due to new technology they are now able to analyse nasal swabs (PCR tests) for coronavirus carried out at the Princess Grace hospital. At the beginning of the epidemic the Covid-19 screening samples in the Principality were sent to Nice, Marseille or even Paris to be analyzed with delays of between 48 to 72 hours before obtaining results. With the new capacity at the scientific centre this time is reduced to just 24 hours. The new technology can process 30 samples simultaneously, making it possible to analyse nearly 90 samples in 24 hours.

Primary school to reopen in Valbonne - Staff at the Ile Verte primary school in Valbonne have confirmed that pupils will have to wait until Monday before being able to return to class. The school was forced to delay welcoming pupils back this week, due to a suspected case of Covid-19 amongst one of the staff last week, which after screening showed a positive result. The school complex has since been "fully disinfected" and any possible contact cases have proved negative.

Masks - The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has issued a third municipal decree to maintain the obligation to wear a mask in public spaces. The measure came into effect on Wednesday. It means that wearing a mask is obligatory when social distancing measures cannot be respected. Controls have begun, with offenders being subject to a €38 fine. The measure is in place until June 1st.

Club Med 2 - Club Med 2 has arrived in La Seyne in the Var. The sailboat will remain there, at least until the end of the summer, as cruise ship activities have been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Club Med 2 is considered to be the tallest five-mast in the world.

Beaches - The Alpes Maritimes Prefecture has said that 16 requests have been received from coastal municipalities for the reopening of beaches. It said that a working group is currently looking at harmonised health and safety measures for reopening and decisions would begin to be made later this week. The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, says that he already has the approval of the Prefecture for the reopening of beaches with limited activities this weekend.

Meanwhile, the 19 departmental nature reserves in the Alpes-Maritimes were reopened to the public on Wednesday. Visitors are required to strictly respect the instructions for social distancing and barrier gestures. Groups of more than 10 people are strictly prohibited and certain facilities within parks will remain closed. Details can be found on the Departmental Council's website.

"Support our traders" - Cannes Town Hall has started an initiative to encourage all Cannes residents to shop locally. The campaign, which uses the slogan "Support our traders - Relocate our purchases", aims to support local traders and "to restore the social bond and the human interactions essential to restart social life while respecting essential barrier gestures." Posters are being displayed around Cannes to draw attention to the campaign.

Nice Etoile - Nicetoile, the historic shopping centre in Nice, will today receive the “health confidence” label, set up by the City of Nice to distinguish companies and commercial, industrial and tourist businesses which engage in protection of their customers, employees and visitors. Nicetoile, which reopened to the general public on Monday 11th May, is the first major brand in Nice to receive this distinction. In order to welcome its traders and visitors in complete safety, the centre has implemented a specific health protocol allowing strict compliance with protection and distancing measures.

Farmer Cédric Herrou dismissed from all prosecutions - After more than three years of legal procedures, farmer Cédric Herrou has been "dismissed from all prosecutions" against him. Cédric Herrou had been sentenced in August 2017 to a four-month suspended prison sentence by the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal for having helped some 200 migrants, on the Italian border in the Alpes Maritimes.

Swiss Holding company fined for sale of villa - In a press release published on Wednesday, the public prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme in Nice announced that a Swiss Holding company has just paid €1.4 million in fines following an investigation dating back to 2014. The investigation was opened in Nice in 2014 for “aggravated money laundering” after the suspicious sale in 2008 of a luxury villa in Cap d’Antibes. The villa officially bought for 36 million had a real value of 128 million with 92 million reportedly being paid by different offshore companies.  

Elderly lady has a lucky escape - An elderly lady has had a lucky escape after police intervened in Marseille on Tuesday. The woman was found walking along the motorway in front of oncoming traffic. Officers managed to halt all traffic and assist the woman to safety. Questioned by police she was reportedly on her way to buy “fruit and veg”. The chances of survival for a pedestrian on the motorway is between 10 to 20 minutes.

Partial unemployment - The French government has said that partial unemployment has reached a plateau and current requests are showing a small decline. Minister of Labour, Muriel Penicaud, said today that cumulative requests under the scheme had reached 12.4 million employees but the current figure is 11.2 million.

Caregivers bonus - The French government has said that the bonus to caregivers and non-medical hospital staff which was announced recently, is expected to be paid on their May or June pay day. The bonus is €1,500 for staff in places that have Covid-19 patients and €500 minimum for all hospital staff.

Support our cheeses - A national campaign has been launched in France, supported by celebrities including Michelin-starred chefs and the French Rugby Federation, to “support our cheeses, our land and our producers”. It was General Charles de Gaulle, who remarked on the difficulty of controlling a country boasting 246 types of cheese. Now the French have been urged to eat more fromage to help save some of the nation’s food heritage and stop thousands of gallons of milk and 2,000 tonnes of cheese being destroyed.

Business

The chair of the US Federal Reserve has warned that America faces a slow and painful economic recovery without additional government support. The comments by Jerome Powell represent a complete turnaround from early in April when he said that he expected a robust rebound. US lawmakers are currently debating additional spending in a bid to shield the economy from coronavirus shutdowns. Employers cut more than 20 million jobs last month sending unemployment to 14.7% with many of the losses affecting poor and ethnic minority households. Mr Powell said that additional spending would be costly but “worth it”. He said that the unemployment rate was likely to remain elevated adding that there is a growing sense that the recovery will come “more slowly than we would like, but that it will come and that may mean that it is necessary for us to do more”. Financial markets fell on Mr Powell’s comments with the Dow Jones ending more than 2% lower.

Uber has said that it will require drivers, delivery workers and riders globally to wear masks as countries around the world start to ease lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. From next Monday, the firm will require everyone using its ride-hailing service in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and most Latin American and Asian countries to wear some kind of face covering with passengers required to sit in the back of vehicles. Uber will also lower the number of passengers allowed on its standard rides to three from four. The company said that failure to comply with the new regulations could lead to account deactivation for both riders and drivers.

The UK Finance Minister has warned that the country is facing “a significant recession” after the government’s latest growth figures showed that the first few days of the country’s lockdown caused a record drop in economic activity. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said that businesses should brace themselves after figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that just 9 days of restrictions caused output to fall by 5.8% in March and by 2% in the first quarter. The ONS said that the hit to the economy in late March had affected almost every sector of the economy and meant that output had dropped by almost as much in a single month as in the 18-month decline during and after the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Services, production and construction were all affected.

Sport

Formula 1 - Reports say that Carlos Sainz is set to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari with Daniel Ricciardo moving to McLaren from Renault. Talks to seal the two moves are said to be ongoing but no final agreements have been reached. An announcement could come before the end of the week with Sainz tempted by a move to a big team and McLaren keen to secure the services of Ricciardo after having chased him for some time. The signs are that Vettel may be left without a seat for next season which could prompt him to retire.

Football - The Spurs star Dele Alli has been held at knifepoint during a robbery. Reports say that two men broke into the 24 year old’s North London home on Wednesday morning and punched and threatened him before making off with valuables including jewellery and watches. The incident was captured on CCTV footage which is now being examined by police. Mr Alli said that it had been a “horrible experience” but that he was OK and thanked people for their supportive messages.

Cricket - West Indies players are said to be very nervous about travelling to England for their summer tour. The chief executive of Cricket West Indies Johnny Grave says that he thinks that the tour can go ahead but that players would not be forced to travel if they didn’t want to. The England and Wales Cricket Board is exploring the use of bio-secure venues and quarantining players ahead of the tour. Mr Grave said that it had to be safety first and foremost and that the ECB would have to get UK government approval to be absolutely certain that bio-secure cricket will work.

Golf - Players from outside the United States will have to quarantine in America before being allowed to join the PGA Tour when it resumes next month. The decision was confirmed as the PGA Tour outlined its plans for a return for action. There’s been no play on the circuit since the abandonment of the Players Championship on the 12th March.

Weather 

Partially cloudy with some scattered showers this afternoon and moderate easterly winds. Top temperatures 21-23 degrees. Overnight lows of 16 degrees on the coast and 14 degrees inland with rain spreading across the region.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Rain clearing tomorrow morning. Mainly fine after that with a few showers inland. Highs of 20-22 degrees.

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