Fight to open region’s ski resorts - The president of the Alpes-Maritimes department has said that “authorities will fight to open the region’s ski resorts at Christmas”. During French President Emmanuel Macron's address to the nation on Tuesday, the Head of State said that he considered it "impossible" to open winter sports resorts during the festive season due to the health risks. In the Alpes-Maritimes, the winter sports industry creates 5,000 jobs, and a turnover of 20 million euros. The holiday season represents between 20 and 25% of the turnover of ski resorts.
Universities in France warn of a “social and human time bomb” - Meanwhile, also in reaction to the President’s announcement that university students will not return until two weeks after high school students, planned for the 20th January, ten university presidents have warned of a “real social and human time bomb”. They say that they do not understand the difference in treatment between high schools and universities, calling it a "double standard" which has caused "amazement" and "anger" among academics. In a forum, university presidents denounce differences in treatment with high schools. They claim to have taken "emergency measures" and say they feel "responsible" in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Press conference - French Prime Minister Jean Castex is to hold a press conference this morning at 11am to give more detail on Emmanuel Macron's announcements concerning the new coronavirus measures.
Exceptional aid for precarious workers - Ahead of the Prime Minister’s press conference France’s employment minister Elisabeth Borne has announced an "exceptional aid" guaranteeing “a minimum monthly replacement income" for precarious workers such as seasonal employees. This aid will be paid by Pôle Emploi and should concern "approximately 300,000 people, including 70,000 young people”. According to the minister, current help launched during the Covid-19 pandemic in July by the government already includes up to 4,000 euros to companies hiring a young person and 5,000 euros for an apprentice under 18.
Vaccination refusal on the rise - The number of people in France stating that they would refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19, if a vaccine were available in the coming months, has been increasing for several weeks. According to the latest Elabe survey, 48% of those polled say they would not get vaccinated if a vaccine against the coronavirus were available in the coming months, a figure up two points from last week. 37% (-3) say they are ready to be vaccinated, and 15% (+1) do not yet know.
Toys for the children of the Roya Valley - The Principality of Monaco is participating in an operation to give toys to children affected by Storm Alex. HSH Prince Albert II and his government have contributed 15,000 euros to the operation which aims to give toys for Christmas to almost 600 children aged up to 14 years old. "Solidarity Christmas for the children of the Roya Valley" was initiated by the Deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes Alexandra Valetta-Ardisson and the Agglomeration of the French Riviera. The contribution from Monaco should make it possible to offer a gift to each child. Since the storm in early October, Monaco has paid 1 million euros to each of the affected valleys - Vésubie, Roya, Tinée and the town of Ventimiglia.
World Day of Elimination of Violence against women - Several public buildings in Nice, as well as the famous "I Love Nice" sign turned orange on Wednesday on the occasion of World Day for the Elimination of Violence against women. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said that the city's actions to fight domestic violence aren't limited to a single day but are developed through concrete measures throughout the year. He added that Nice provides a telephone hotline, as well as emergency response and accommodation facilities.
Taxes for online technology companies - France's minister of finance has today announced that online technology companies which operate in France will be forced to pay taxes in France rather than elsewhere in the EU. An official from the French Ministry of Finance said today that the companies to be subjected to the tax notably Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have been notified, while French media suggested that the move is "likely to put France on course for a first clash with Biden". In the past France's finance minister Bruno Le Maire has called the issue of dealing with digital giants "one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century".
Mediterranean episodes forecast - Météo France has warned that “Mediterranean episodes” characterized by "violent storms" with the equivalent of several months of rain in a few hours or days are expected today and tomorrow in the Pyrénées-Orientales and Corsica. “Mediterranean episodes” occur between "three to six times a year".
Asian stocks have risen this morning as investors continued to take the positives from Covid-19 vaccine progress and the prospect of increased political stability under US President-elect Joe Biden. Markets are still factoring in increased US government spending to support the pandemic-hit economy and a smoother attitude to trade talks with China. Analysts say that although equities are high, investors are finding fewer and fewer reasons to sell. Weak economic data hit Wall Street on Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving Day Holiday with figures from the US Labor Department suggesting that an explosion in new Covid-19 infections coupled with business restrictions were resulting in increased layoffs and undermining the recovery. Traders now suspect that the recovery won’t fully get underway until a viable vaccine is rolled out and mass immunisation starts.
The UK Finance Minster Rishi Sunak has warned that unemployment is expected to surge to 2.6 million by mid-2021. Delivering his Spending Review statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the economic emergency caused by Covid-19 had “only just begun”. He said that the government expected to borrow 394 billion pounds this year, the highest level in peacetime history. Latest jobless figures from the UK show that 1.62 million are unemployed, a rise of more than 300,000 since last year. Mr Sunak said that the government would spend 280 billion pounds this year to get the country “through the coronavirus crisis”. The Chancellor also announced that most public sector workers would have their pay frozen with only the lowest-paid and frontline NHS staff getting rises.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned his UK counterpart Lord Frost that he will pull out of negotiations in London this weekend unless there’s a fresh shift in Downing Street’s position. Mr Barnier has given the UK 48 hours to compromise on sticking points and says that further negotiations will be “pointless” unless there’s a change in attitude. The development has pushed the talks into a fresh crisis and presents the most dangerous moment yet for the negotiations with just 36 days to go until the end of the transition period. Sources say that Brussels hopes that the move will put pressure on Boris Johnson to give Lord Frost new negotiating instructions but there are suggestions that it will simply embolden hard Brexiteers in the Conservative Party who think that no deal is a better outcome.
Football - Argentina has declared three days of mourning following the death of national hero Diego Maradona at the age of 60. The former Argentina captain died from a heart attack on Wednesday, two weeks after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Hailed as the greatest footballer of his generation and possibly of all time, Maradona set the world on fire in the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico with his side lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy. It was during the tournament that the infamous ‘hand of god’ incident took place when his goal against England in the quarter finals was allowed to stand despite television replays showing a clear hand ball. He later admitted as much in several television interviews. Maradona’s later career and life was blighted by substance abuse and health problems but he will always be remembered for his mesmerizing skill on the pitch which thrilled millions and made him internationally famous.
In the European Champions League last night Manchester City booked their place in the last 16 with a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in Group C. Liverpool will have to wait though following a surprise 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Atalanta in Group D.
There are a stack of ties in the Europa League tonight including Spurs against Ludogorets Razgrad in Group J. Molde against Arsenal in Group B. Sporting Braga against Leicester in Group G. Sparta Prague against Celtic in Group H. Rangers against Benfica in Group D and Nice play Slavia Prague in Group C.
In the English Championship last night Middlesbrough beat Derby 3-0. Millwall and Reading drew 1-1. Bristol City and Watford drew 0-0. Coventry beat Cardiff 1-0 and Swansea and Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1.
In the Scottish Premiership Hamilton and Aberdeen drew 1-1.
Formula 1 - A cross party group of 30 British MPs has called on the sport to “leverage Bahrain into respecting human rights”. The group has sent a letter to Formula 1 bosses amid concerns of human rights violations ahead of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The letter expresses concern that the Grand Prix is used by the Bahrain government to “sportswash” their human rights record. A spokesman for the Bahrain government said that it takes the “protection of its citizens’ human rights and freedom of expression extremely seriously”.
Cricket - South Africa say that their decision not to “take a knee” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of matches in the upcoming series against England has been taken “unanimously” as a team. The Proteas will wear black armbands as part of a period of national mourning for victims of gender-based violence and the coronavirus pandemic and the South Africa Cricket Board says that the decision does not indicate that it doesn’t care about racism. The first of three T20 internationals against England is being played tomorrow ahead of a three match one day international series.
Tennis - The Australian Open is likely to be delayed by a week or two according to Victoria’s Sports Minister. Covid-19 quarantine regulations in the state mean that players may not be allowed in until the end of December at the earliest. The Australian Open is due to be staged between the 18th and 31st of January but Sports Minister Martin Pakula says that it’s likely to be delayed for “a week or two”.
Becoming quite cloudy with moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 12 degrees on the coast and 8 degrees inland with cloudy skies.
Friday and the start of the weekend - Mainly cloudy tomorrow with a high of 16. Rain for most of Saturday with a high of 15 degrees.