French and Riviera News Tuesday 14th April 2020

Lockdown in France extended to May 11th - French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that there will be an extension on the lockdown in order to continue attempts to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11th. He said progress had been made, but the battle was not yet won. He also said non-European borders would remain closed. Acknowledging his country had not been sufficiently prepared early on to face the challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus, Macron said the unprecedented restrictions put in place were showing results. Macron’s prime time address came as France ended a fourth week under lockdown, with residents ordered to stay at home except to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise on their own. After a relentless increase until the first week of April, the number of patients in French hospitals’ intensive care units has started to decline, prompting health authorities to call a plateau in the deadly epidemic. But if French hospitals are just about coping, helped by a massive effort to transfer patients by plane, helicopter or even high-speed train from hospitals in the east and Paris to the west, nursing homes have been overwhelmed. By Monday, the coronavirus had claimed 14,967 lives in France, the fourth-highest death toll in the world, with more than 98,076 confirmed cases, according to official figures. Macron said that by May 11th, France would be able to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms. Schools and creches would progressively re-open. Although Macron’s popularity initially shot up after he followed Italy and Spain in introducing drastic curbs on public life, his government has faced accusations of failing to address a shortage of masks and testing kits. The French government is expected to set out in detail the exact measures intended in the coming weeks.  

Reactions to Macron's speech - In reaction to the President's speech Charles-Ange Ginésy, president of the Alpes-Maritimes departmental council described it as "A message of confidence, but too vague". Adding that "I do not hide my disappointment, even if he succeeded in giving back a message of confidence to the French. On the economic level, it is too vague, no medium and long term perspective. Poverty should not do more damage than the virus. Finally, I was waiting for a clarification on the masks and the tests and this is not the case."

Meanwhile Renaud Muselier, president of the Paca regional council accused the speech of being "Light on the health aspect". He said that "the announcements on festivals, restaurants, bars, are important, but we know the economic difficulties that this will cause in our region. On the health side, we need more concrete answers on masks, gel, the tests, the treatments, and a vaccine.

Finally among the teachers' unions, the declarations of the President of the Republic caused concern with many claiming "It is anything but serious to reopen schools on May 11th because we are told that all public places are closed, cinemas, theatres, but not schools, when we know that it is a place of high transmission, high contamination, there is a lack of precaution, it seems to be in total contradiction with everything that has been declared previously". 

Coronavirus - In both the Alpes Maritimes and the Var 241 people have died from Covid-19 both in nursing homes and hospital. 289 people are currently being treated in hospital and 79 other patients are in intensive care. In Monaco no new cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday evening. 

Supplies from China - A plane from China carrying urgent medical supplies landed at Nice Cote d'Azur airport on Monday lunchtime. The cargo included almost one million face masks as well as other protective equipment and weighed 25 tonnes in total. The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, was present next to the runway at the airport to greet the plane. The mayor also said today that 88 to 90% of the population of Nice are respecting the confinement measures.

Police in Cannes receive masks - Police in Cannes have received 400 "made in Cannes" masks, 200 surgical masks and 200 FFP2 masks as well as thermometers. The masks made in Cannes with health protection standards were delivered to the Cannes police station, to meet the needs of the police which have been hard hit by the Coronavirus epidemic, with forty officers in self isolation and 20 positive cases of Covid-19 declared. 

60 year old man dies - A 60-year-old man has died on private property while gardening. The accident occurred on Easter Monday in the Trinité district of Nice after the man was crushed by his electric wheelbarrow. Investigators have yet to determine if it was due to a technical problem.

Child found wandering the streets - A mother has been placed in police custody after her seven year old daughter was found by a police officer wandering the streets of Nice. The officer, who was at the time on his way back to the police barracks spotted the young child with suitcase in hand in the street. The child has been placed with her grandparents while an investigation is carried out. 

Stress and anxiety during confinement - A recent studied showed that a majority of French people are dealing well with confinement measures however there are others that on the contrary, are anxious and stressed. For the past three weeks, a group of psychotherapists have been offering online consultations to help them get through this unprecedented period. The therapists have noted that most of the calls concern people aged between 30 and 50 years old, while studies carried out, especially in China, have revealed peaks of anxiety among 18-30 year olds and those over 60 years old. Among the calls, there are also caregivers. Facebook page 'Soutien psy coronavirus'. The confinement measures have also generated an increase in domestic violence. The government has opened special numbers like 3919 or 114 by SMS. Pharmacies can also collect reports.

Arthur Leclerc - In Monaco during the confinement period it's the younger brother of the Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, Arthur Leclerc who has competed in the second round of the F1 Virtual Grad Prix Series. Confined to his home in Monaco, 19 year old Arthur Leclerc took part in the virtual race finishing fourth. 

Business

MPs in the UK are to summon a leading UK-based firm today over security concerns. There are concerns that the Chinese owner of Imagination Technologies has renewed efforts to transfer ownership of sensitive security software to companies controlled by China. Lawmakers worry the coronavirus crisis is diverting attention from controversial technology transfers. The fear is that networks in the UK, Europe and the US could be compromised.

Apple is planning a major redesign for its next generation of 5G-compatible iPhones, according to a reports. The new design for Apple's flagship products will be heavily influenced by the latest generation of iPads, according to Bloomberg News, which reports there could be four new iPhone models.

Sport

Formula One - The French Grand Prix is set to be the next Formula 1 event to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address to the nation on Monday that restrictions on public events would continue until mid-July. France's round of the F1 championship is set to be held at the Circuit Paul Ricard, near Marseille, on 28 June. Macron said France's lockdown would be extended until 11 May, after which creches and primary and secondary schools would progressively reopen, while bars, restaurants, and cinemas would stay shut. There would be no summer festivals "before mid-July". The move seems to make it impossible to hold an event that was attended by 135,000 people last year.

Football - The Italian Football Federation has announced that it hopes that players can be tested for coronavirus at the start of May in preparation for the season to restart. Serie A has been suspended since March 9th due to the global pandemic. There is no set date for when the campaign can resume in Italy, with 12 full rounds and four outstanding fixtures still to play.

Golf - World number one Rory McIlroy has said that staging the Masters in November may boost his quest to win a career Grand Slam. The first men's major of the year was moved from its traditional April slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Weather 

Clear skies with highs of 22 degrees in Saint Tropez in the Var and 18 degrees in Nice. Moderate south easterly wind. This evening going down to 10 degrees with clear skies. 

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday remaining much the same, becoming increasingly cloudy by Thursday midday. 

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