French and Riviera News Tuesday 31st March 2020

 

Announcement from British Embassy in Paris - Over the last few weeks, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked tirelessly to help hundreds of thousands of British travellers get home to the UK. On Monday evening, the Foreign Secretary announced a repatriation plan for British Nationals who are currently stranded overseas and who are unable to return home due to border closures and/or because commercial options are no longer available. In these cases, the FCO, in partnership with commercial carriers, will facilitate special chartered flights to get UK Nationals back home. The Government has pledged £75 million to the effort. Vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with underlying health issues, will be given priority.   

However, the UK/France border remains open and commercial travel options are still available, although becoming increasingly restricted. UK Nationals who live in the UK and that are currently in France, whether working, on holiday, or travelling, should return home now while commercial options are still available. At the time of writing, there are still flights, trains, ferries and the Eurotunnel that can offer return to the UK. The Foreign Secretary emphasised that airlines are standing by to help and will be offering greater flexibility with tickets and carriers. 

Please note: this advice and this evening’s announcement do not relate to UK nationals who are permanently resident in France. British Nationals resident in France should continue to stay at their home location and follow French Government and local authority guidelines. 

For enquiries, please email  france.enquiries@fco.gov.uk .

Coronavirus in the region - 8 patients have died from the coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var as reported on Monday 30th March. 3 died in the Alpes Maritimes and 5 in the Var.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic 38 people have died in the two regions fore mentioned. 20 in the Alpes Maritimes and 18 in the Var.

30 coronavirus patients are still in intensive care in the Alpes Maritimes and 43 in the Var.

In stage 3, as in stage 2, the message remains the same, reminds the prefecture.

"To limit the spread of the epidemic, the most effective measure is the simplest, based on individual responsibility, that is to say: respecting barrier gestures."

Wash your hands regularly. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue. Greet without shaking hands, avoid kissing

Use and dispose of single-use tissues. Respect the distances. Stay at home and only go out for the bare necessities

In case of symptoms (cough, fever) that make you think of COVID 19, the only action is to stay at home, repeat the authorities and call your doctor or 15.

For questions about the COVID 19 coronavirus, a toll-free number answers permanently, 24/7: 0 800 130 000.

Monaco coronavirus cases - The health authorities of the Principality were  informed on Monday, March 30th, that 3 new patients had tested positive for Covid-19.

This brings the number of people affected in the Principality, by the coronavirus to 49, including one who is now cured.

The Princely Government recalls the importance of remaining fully mobilized while respecting the rules of health precautions and travel restrictions.

In Marseille - On the website of the Institut hospital universitaire Méditerranée Infection (IHU) in Marseille, directed by Professor Didier Raoult, the IHU indicates that 16,506 people have been tested on the AP-AM / IHU site, 1,988 people have been tested positive for COVID 19 and 13 people died from the disease.

The IHU adds that 1,003 people were treated with the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azytromycin (antibiotic), within the IHU and there was one death after more than three days of treatment.

National level - On a national level France reported on Monday evening that it had reached the 3,000 mark with 3,024 deaths registered due to the virus with an additional 418 deaths in 24 hours. Nearly 21,000 people are hospitalised due to coronavirus of which 5,107 are in intensive care. 

The date of the peak of the epidemic is difficult to estimate, whether in the Paris region or in Paca. "It all depends on compliance with confinement", specifies Philippe de Mester, "we noted a loosening of confinement this weekend compared to the previous weekend".

Man shoots his neighbour - Police in the Var have opened an investigation after a man opened fire on his neighbour in Toulon. The incident occurred on Monday afternoon. The victim did not survive and died on the spot. According to reports the victim was a 70 year old pensioner

The suspect was taken into custody at the Toulon central police station. At this stage of the investigation, the causes of the dispute are not yet known.

Investigation into deaths at a nursing home in Mougins - An investigation has been opened to determine if 12 deaths, reported in a nursing home in Mougins were caused by the coronavirus. According to the Regional Health Agency some residents died, inside, others in the hospitals of Cannes and Grasse. Those still in the home are currently confined to their rooms. 

Financial plan announced by the President of the region - Renaud Muselier, president of the region has detailed, on Monday afternoon the emergency and solidarity plan for the community, which totalled 1.4 billion euros. 
To cope with the medical situation and clarify perspectives for entrepreneurs and employees alike, the plan is broken down into two parts: 227 million to respond to the immediate crisis and 1.2 billion intended for the “post-Covid” recovery.

The envelope dedicated to emergency and solidarity amounts to 227 million euros, intended primarily for healthcare staff. The Region has already ordered four million masks. It will also pay a bonus of 200 euros to some 14,000 health students mobilized on the front line and it grants free regional transport to all caregivers.

Sixty-five million will come specifically to support companies in difficulty, through immediate aid of 1,500 euros for very small companies and the self-employed, then a second aid, of 2,000 euros. For those concerned more details are availble by calling 0 805 805 145. 

Five million are more specifically dedicated to the agricultural world, including.103.5 million are also devoted to a multifaceted solidarity chain, which notably includes the opening of Creps de Boulouris to the homeless and support for the cultural world.

To allow the economy to restart faster when the time comes, the Region will allocate no less than 1.2 billion to support actions.

Of this total, 88 million will be used to support the intermunicipal and town halls in their projects, 50 million to modernize high schools and or, digital development.

762 million will be used to modernize regional transport (trains and coaches). One hundred million will support road works, a hundred others will be earmarked for the development of research, the improvement of working conditions for carers and the proliferation of nursing homes, reaching a total of 150 in 2023; In addition, 155 million will be devoted to renewable energies and the energy transition.

2.6 million has already been planned in order to revive tourism, but the allocation can only be truly targeted once the health crisis is over, at home and elsewhere.

French schools and the baccalaureate - Jean Michel Blanquer France's Education Minister has said he would announce details of the baccalaureate final exams by the end of the week as French schools entered their third week of a lockdown aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.

Blanquer assured worried parents that the exams would be held this academic year so that “students are not wronged” and “don't lose a year”.

Blanquer explained that he had "been in discussions for several days and throughout the past week with all the representative organisations, teachers, parents and high-school students” to accommodate different opinions and try to arrive at a consensus.

Schools in France have been shut since March 16th, a day before the entire nation was put under a strict lockdown. Schoolchildren across France have since been following their curricula with their teachers by video and email and via televised school programmes on national television.

France's finance minister - France stepped up on Monday its calls for firms using state aid to keep afloat during the coronavirus crisis to not pay out dividends to shareholders this year. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said "I call on all companies who are putting staff on partial unemployment, that are having their wages paid by the state, to show the greatest restraint possible in terms of paying dividends," adding "Even better is to set an example and not pay dividends". 

Coronavirus: Philippe and Véran heard on Wednesday by the Assembly's fact-finding mission

The Head of Government and the Minister of Health will be heard on Wednesday by the fact-finding mission of the National Assembly concerning the measures taken in the context of the fight against Covid-19, as well as their application.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Health Olivier Véran will be heard together by the fact-finding mission of the National Assembly this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

The fact-finding mission of the Conference of Presidents of the National Assembly on the Covid-19 will start its work at 4 p.m., and Edouard Philippe will be heard at 6 p.m.

This hearing, which will be held by videoconference, will be broadcast. Its purpose is to question the head of government on the measures already taken and their application. At this stage of the crisis, the fact-finding mission has no investigative powers.

« Prime » in France could be doubled to 2,000 euros - Meanwhile French media has reported that the 1,000 euro « prime » planned for employees forced to go to work despite the confinement could be doubled to 2,000.  The order may well  be presented to the Council of Ministers this Wednesday. 

On Monday morning Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance announced that "He was open to reflecting on the increase in the premium of 1000 euros," 

The amount of this bonus could thus reach 2,000 euros. The period to be able to pay it should be extended until August 31, 2020.

French television reports record audiences - Due to the confinement measures, currently in place in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus. It may not come as a surprise that a "historic level" of television audience has been reached. According to Médiamétrie the "highest" record has been receached with the French watching on average 4 hours twenty nine minutes of television per day even the listening time of young people (15-24 years old) went from 1 hour and three minutes to 1 hour and 29 minutes, reports Médiamétrie.

Confined since March 17, the French notably favoured news channels BFMTV achieved the best month in its history, becoming the 5th channel in France with 4.1% audience share (+1.9 point over one year). LCI equaled its historic monthly record at 1.5% (+0.5). President Emmanuel Macron's speech on March 16 was followed by a total of 35.3 million viewers on all the channels that broadcast it (TF1, France 2, France 3, M6, C8, TMC, L'Equipe , BFMTV, LCI, CNews and franceinfo). The French also followed entertainment such as "Koh Lanta" on TF1 (6.5 million viewers on Friday March 20 and 27).

French plumber and talented dog leave for UK to help Covid-19 research - A French plumber and his dog have left the Paris region for the UK to help research into the coronavirus. Sidi Drici and his dog Ila left on Monday March 30th. Ila is a 6 year old sheperd dog who has achieved a remarkable feat and was awarded in 2019 with the "Dog Hero Trophy" for her ability to detect gas leaks. 

Trained since she was six months old to detect gas molecules Ila has to date, carried out 209 interventions, up to 2.45 meters underground, and been 100% successful even leading to Drici her master, attached to his hometown in france, refusing a few years ago an offer from the United Arab Emirates to train dogs to detect gas leaks on oil pipelines in the Middle East. 

Now Ila has been requested along with her master, by a charity in the UK specializing in dog training for scientific purposes. Research will be carried out by a university located in the north-east and a medical school specializing in tropical diseases in London.

Ultimately, dogs looking for Covid-19 would be trained in the same way as dogs that the charity has already trained to detect cancerous tumors, Parkinson's disease and bacterial infections, by sniffing samples and stating when they found it.

A system which is faster and less expensive than testing and a useful approach, especially at airports to identify carriers of viruses. This would help prevent the reoccurrence of the disease after the current pandemic is under control.

Asked about the departure of Sidi Drici for London, the mayor of Melun Louis Vogel, affected by the Covid-19, says  "he encourages all initiatives that give hope and help overcome this pandemic".

 

Business.

 

A report by Reuters says that while each of Wall Street’s three main indexes are down by more than 20 percent since their February highs ,investors are now trying to assess the economic damage and identify which firms will be on a solid footing when growth starts to accelerate again.

Analysts say that investors should be looking at stocks that will give them an opportunity to participate.

However ,extreme caution remains with not many traders buying into statements from President Trump that America is in a good place to ride out the crisis and a strong feeling that the selling is not yet over.

Over the weekend ,JP Morgan said that it expects real US GDP to fall by 10 percent in the first quarter and by 25 percent in the second quarter.

Along with healthcare firms ,tech stocks were the big beneficiary of Monday’s rally with Microsoft up 7 percent.

In the healthcare sector Johnson & Johnson and Abbot Laboratories both rose by 8 percent on news that the US government is planning to help fund the creation of enough manufacturing capacity for its coronavirus vaccine which is currently under development.

 

American Airlines is to seek 12 billion dollars in financial support from the US government because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Employees have been told that the financial aid package will help the airline “to fly through even the worst of potential future scenarios”.

The firm said that the package would mean no involuntary furloughs or cuts in pay rates or benefits for the next six months.

Staff are also to be offered enhanced voluntary leave and early retirement options.

Last year ,American Airlines made a profit of 2.9 billion dollars and returned 1.3 billion to shareholders via dividends and buybacks.

 

 

And-Oil prices have slumped to their lowest levels for 18 years as demand for crude collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent Crude fell to 22 dollars 58 at one point on Monday -its lowest level since November 2002.

West Texas Intermediate fell below 20 dollars close to an 18 year low.

Crude prices have fallen by more than half during the past month as firms cut back or close production and the number of vehicles on the roads and planes flying drop dramatically because of lockdowns.

 

Sport.

 

Olympics-The Tokyo Summer Games will be held between the 23rd of July and run until the 8th of August 2021 following a decision by the International Olympic Committee.

The games were due to be held this summer but have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Summer Games will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite not taking place untol next year.

The president of the IOC Thomas Bach said he hoped that the games could be “the light at the end of the tunnel” as the world grapples with the impact of the coronavirus.

 

Formula 1-There’s been a negative reaction to news that the Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko advised his drivers to become infected with the coronavirus while the season is in hiatus.

The 76 year old is reported to have had the idea to “bring his drivers and juniors together in a camp which would be the ideal time for the infection to come”.

He said that they were all young men in good health and that way ,they would be prepared for when the action starts.

Other Red Bull management poured cold water on the idea which was abandoned.

 

Football-The former Blackburn striker now BBC pundit Chris Sutton has said that Harry Kane would “be stupid” not to leave Spurs if he wants to have a chance of winning the English Premier League title.

Kane has said that he could leave the club if Spurs don’t progress as he wants to win trophies “sooner rather than later”.

Sutton said that he understood the predicament that the player is in and that if he wants to win the Premier League he should move to a team which has a better chance of doing it.

 

Rugby Union-Ireland’s summer tour of Australia is under threat because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ireland are due to play two Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane and Sydney in July but Rugby Australia says that’s looking less and less likely.

It said a final decision would be made in consultation with World Rugby.

 

Weather.

 

Sunshine and showers with light to moderate easterly winds.

Top temperature 15 degrees.

Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 7 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday-Mainly fine with highs of 13-15 degrees.

 

 

 

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