French and Riviera News Thursday 7th May 2020

End of lockdown –Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe is to address the National Assembly today at 4pm to outline the end of the lockdown in France from Monday 11th May.

While many elements linked to the end of the lockdown in France have already been announced detail and clarification on transport, freedom of movement and the rules of quarantine for those arriving in France are still eagerly awaited.

Edouard Philippe will be accompanied by several members of the government including the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and the Minister of Education Jean Michel Blanquer.

France already has a plan should the end of lockdown fail – Meanwhile referred to by some as “Monsieur deconfinement” Jean Castex, the national coordinator for the deconfinement strategy for the French government has assured that “should the progressive end to the lockdown on May 11th fail, he has already prepared a plan for the “reconfinement” or “return to lockdown”.

Speaking to French media on Wednesday Castex said that from May 11th, "as soon as the number of positive patients, beyond contact cases, is abnormally high, then it will indeed be necessary to give France the means to act immediately ".

He added that “while a plan is ready, should France need to return to lockdown, that is not our objective," concluding that "If we don't want this to happen, one of the best ways is that we respect the essential rules, barrier measures, hand washing, wearing masks in certain situations, and getting tested as soon as “we have symptoms”

According to him, "national mobilization will be a determining factor" for the success - or failure - of deconfinement.

Petition calling for beaches to reopen – Meanwhile a petition calling for beaches in the region to reopen from May 11th has collected over 18,000 signatures. The petition will be addressed to the Prefects of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region.

On Tuesday, an amendment proposing the reopening of beaches for individual sporting activities was approved by the Senate..

New transport plan for Nice from May 11th - The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has unveiled details of a new transport plan for the city from May 11th.  Boulevard Gambetta will be open to buses and bicycles only, from Avenue Thiers to the Promenade des Anglais.

The frequency of buses and trams throughout the city will be increased from the 11th. The method of getting on and off trams will be changed, with access via the middle door only, with the doors at each end being reserved for exit only.

Bus stops will have markings in place to show physical separation distances. The mayor also announced significant help for bicycle riders and those considering buying a bike. Aid of 100 euros will be given to those buying a mechanical bicycle. 200 euros of aid will be given to those earning up to 2,500 euros per month who purchase an electric bicycle. A significant number of bicycle lanes and paths will also be created in Nice over the coming weeks.

Nice International Airport - Nice International airport is currently limited to four daily flights. It’s been announced that a return to normal is pending on clarification from the French government for the deconfinement of airspace.

Since March 16th, Terminal 1 has been completely closed with all flights departing and arriving at Terminal 2. Of the four daily flights three are to Paris, Corsica and London with a third dedicated to repatriation.

As the airport authorities await directives from the state concerning the organization of deconfinement which is hoped to be by mid-June, management and staff are working on implementing sanitary measures to meet the requirements of safe travel.

SNCF- Meanwhile the SNCF has announced several safety measures aimed at protecting travellers from 11 May. Wearing a mask will be compulsory on public transport. Users who do not respect this will risk a fine. Train users will have to bring their own mask as the SNCF will not be providing them. Sanitising gel dispensers will be installed in 165 stations and all trains will be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day. The SNCF is also preparing a transport plan which will be announced at the end of this week. Train passengers will be able to know how crowded their train is expected to be the day before their journey by using the SNCF app.

When possible, teleworking made compulsory in the Principality - The National Council in Monaco has unanimously voted a bill making teleworking compulsory during the health crisis.

In order to help limit the spread of the virus, and in order to protect the health of employees and employers but also of the entire population, teleworking is compulsory for all positions which allow it.

Website pulled by French government - The website Désinfox, designed to combat the spread of disinformation about the Covid-19 and set up on the government official website has been pulled. It was reported last week that journalists had strongly criticised the site due to its choice of sources and subject matter leading to the government’s decision to pull the site, which had aimed to relay verified and trustworthy news.

Plan to aid cultural sector in France - Following a two-hour video conference on Wednesday French President Emmanuel Macron has put forward a plan to keep the cultural sector alive through the coronavirus crisis. Several measures have been announced, including an extension to special unemployment benefits until 2021.

The president, accompanied by the minsters of culture, finance and labour, discussed a number of issues in various fields such as literature, dance, cinema, theatre, music and art.

WHO urges other countries to retest old flu samples - After French doctors reported that Covid-19 was present in France a month earlier than it was thought to have spread to Europe. The World Health Organisation has urged other countries around the world to retest old flu samples.

It was in one of France’s hardest hit areas that French doctors in the northern Paris determined that a man they treated for pneumonia in December had been suffering from the coronavirus.

The United National Health agency said the study opened an important pathway in understanding where the virus originated and how it spread.

Eurobio signs agreement to market serological test - Eurobio the Ile-de-France company, has reportedly signed an agreement to market the test developed by NG Biotech to nursing homes and healthcare personnel, enabling the detection of Covid-19 from a drop of blood.

The test, NG-Test IgG-IgM COVID-19, is part of the so-called serological tests. Its big advantage is to be able to detect in just 15 minutes, from a drop of blood, the body's response to Covid-19, by identifying the two types of antibodies produced against the virus.

This is unlike tests using a nasal swab, which can be falsely negative. The "all-in-one" device from NG Biotech analyzes a droplet of blood pricked at the fingertip.

Extra kilos - New research has confirmed that many of us have put on a few extra kilos during confinement. According to the survey carried out in France in late April, 57% of people have gained weight, with an average amount of 2.5kg per person.

Business

Asian shares have come under pressure this morning as negative economic data pushed investors to safe havens and oil prices fell back again on continued concerns about falling demand.

Analysts say that traders continue to be torn between signs that comsumers and businesses are emerging from the economic paralysis caused by lockdowns but that in reality ,the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to choke global demand.

Fresh hostilities between Washington and Beijing are also being closely watched after President Trump said that he was trying to gauge whether China would meet its commitments to increase purchases of US goods under the Phase 1 trade deal.

Meanwhile ,Oil prices fell by 4 percent after US crude stockpiles increased  and diesel inventories swelled ,offsetting Opec led cuts in production,

On the currency markets the yen has hit a 7 week high against the dollar and a three-and-a-half week high against the euro.

 

A new forecast from the European Commission says that the EU is facing a “deep and uneven” recession.

The executive arm of the bloc is predicting a recovery in 2021 but warned that uncertainty is “exceptionally high”.

The Commission is predicting a decline in economic activity this year of 7.5 percent and slightly more than that for the eurozone.

It also warned that the outcome could be worse if the pandemic turns out to be longer or more severe than currently envisaged.

The Commission described the economic downturn as a recession of “historic proportions” calling it the biggest shock since the Great Depression.

 

And-The embattled UK department store chain Debenhams has said that another 5 stores won’t be re-opening after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Debenhams has struck deals with landlords to keep most of its 142 stores open after it fell into administration for a second time.

However ,its understood that the firm has not been able to agree terms with the shopping centre owner Hammerson.

Around 1,000 staff will be affected by the 5 store closures.

Debenhams said that it continued to engage in constructive talks with landlords and had agreed terms on the vast majority of its stores.

Sport

Football-The German Bundesliga is to resume later this month after being given permission to get going again by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Bundesliga will become the first major European league to return with all matches played behind closed doors.

There are 9 matches remaining in the season with Bayern Munich top of the table 4 points clear of Borussia Dortmund.

 

Meanwhile in England ,the League Managers Association has said that the Premier League season could be scrapped if clubs don’t agree to play at neutral venues.

A vote is set for Monday on proposals for a return to football.

Some clubs including Brighton and Aston Villa have said that they’re not in favour of playing games at neutral venues as they consider that it would affect the “integrity” of the sport.

 

Tennis-The governing bodies of the sport have confirmed the creation of a player relief fund to support those in the game affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund is already worth more than 6 million dollars and will aim to help around 800 singles and doubles players from the ATP and WTA tours.

The figure is set to rise as donations from top players including Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are included.

Djokovic has been campaigning for all players in the top 100 to take contribute.

 

Racing-The organisers of the Oaks and Derby classics are looking to hold the races behind closed doors on the 4th of July.

The date has been requested in a submission to Epsom and Ewell council with other dates in July also provisionally included.

The application will be considered next week.

All racing in Britain has been indefinitely suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic and any resumption would depend on government approval.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds.

Top temperature 20-23 degrees.

Overnight lows of 15 degrees on the coast and 13 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Partially cloudy with highs of 19-23 degrees

 

 

 

 

 

 

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