French and Riviera News Wednesday 1st April 2020

Two police officers run over - Two police officers have been run over during a road check in La Seyne sur mer. The incident occurred on Tuesday evening shortly after 9.30pm. The two officers aged 48 and 49 were taken to hospital nearby, the motorist fled the scene. An investigation has been opened. 

Coronavirus figures - The regional health agency has reported 104 deaths from the coronavirus in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region. 5,078 people have tested positive in the PACA region. 1,321 are currently in hospital of which 321 are in intensive care. These figures include 39 deaths in the Alpes Maritimes region of which 16 occurred in nursing homes in the region. As of today the mayor of Nice has announced that a consultation centre will be open at Vauban. Tents have been set up to examine those who show signs of the virus. Before going you must make an appointment by calling 06.17.10.21.02

Monaco - Three more cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Principality bringing the total number of cases to 52, two of which have been cured. 11 people are in hospital, of which 2 are in intensive care. Only patients with serious symtoms of the virus are admitted to hospital, those showing mild symtpoms are asked to remain at home and are being medically assisted and assessed by a medical team. There are currenly 90 people being monitored by the health service from their home. 

Meanwhile during a telephone press conference on Tuesday from the State Ministry, the Prince's Government detailed the measures to support workers affected by the health crisis. The objective of the Princely Government is to support as much as possible all the economic actors hit hard by the containment measures. To date, 21,650 employees have been placed in reinforced temporary total unemployment. Between 2000 and 2500 self-employed workers are being deprived of income. Faced with this exceptional situation, the Monegasque authorities are deploying an range of support measures, including a boost to low wages, an “Extraordinary Minimum Income” for the Self-Employed, a gesture towards temporary workers,  and teleworking becomes compulsory when possible. 

Use of CTTR (Reinforced temporary total unemployment) - This system, which claims to be in solidarity with the situation of employees, 75% of whom live outside the Principality, was requested by 2,625 employers and concerns 21,650 employees, or 40% of Monegasque employees. As a reminder, the state reimburses employers up to 80.6% of the net salary of each employee. The cost of the measures amounts to  €50 million per month. 

Boost to low wages - Up to €1,800 monthly, the employee will receive, not 80%, but 100% of his salary thanks to the guaranteed state supplement. This affects up to 9,000 people. Cost of the measure: €1.6 million per month. Concretely, the employee who earns up to 1,800 euros per month retains all of his income.

An “Extraordinary Minimum Income” for the Self-Employed -  Self-employed workers in the Principality will be able to claim an “Extraordinary minimum income” fixed at €1,800 per month, allocated on simple supporting documents by the General Treasury of Finances. Cost of the measure: €3 million per month (based on an estimate of 2,000 to 2,500 applicants).

Gesture towards temporary workers - 6,000 temporary workers have been hit hard by the crisis, since they are not eligible for the CTTR. To relieve them, the state will make advance payments to temporary work agencies for the paid holidays due.

Special premiums paid by the private sector for the Covid-19 - The Government pleads for total exemption from charges on the amount of the premium paid. A dialogue must still take place with the social partners.

Cash for very small businesses - Regarding state premises, March rents will be reimbursed. Rent for the next 3 months will be fully exempt. Regarding private commercial rents, the State has decided to intervene with various owners to make them aware of this crisis situation. Since the State cannot do this directly, it will immediately inject an amount initially set at €50 million intended for the smallest of SMEs through banking establishments. On the basis of simplified procedures, these entrepreneurs can benefit from a sum of up to €50,000 to pay in particular the wages or rent which constitute their main fixed costs. These amounts loaned by the banks are guaranteed by the State. This means that in the event of default by the borrower, the government will reimburse the bank. For the bank, the risk is therefore zero.

No social security contributions on salary supplements - Employers who would like, as part of a CTTR procedure, to pay the additional 20% of their employees' wages so that they receive a 100% amount will be exempt from social charges on this additional part.

Teleworking becomes compulsory when possible - 993 companies in the Principality have adopted teleworking; to date, it concerns 10,381 employees compared to 1,300 before the Covid-19 crisis. Teleworking is becoming the norm, it is made compulsory whenever possible. This means that each refusal must now be clearly justified.

Prohibition on dismissals during the health crisis - The Princely Government, in agreement with the National Council, has taken a decision to make any dismissal impossible except in the event of proven gross negligence.

As of today, the costing of economic measures intended to support all the actors of the Monegasque fabric and to prepare recovery actions will be examined in the Council of Government, before being presented to the National Council in draft an exceptional amending budget. The amount of these additional expenses is estimated for the coming quarter at €280 million, to which must be added a drop in expected revenue of around €180 million.

HSH Prince Albert makes full recovery - Finally in Monaco, doctors who treated His Serene Highness Prince Albert have confirmed that the Prince, who tested positive for Covid-19 is cured and in good helath and have authorised the end of his quarantine period they announced on Tuesday 31st March. Prince Albert was able to join his wife Princess Charlene and their two children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. The Prince will continue, with his family, to observe the period of confinement at the Prince's Palace, while remaining in close collaboration with his government and his close collaborators.

Number of cases in France - 52,128 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in France since the start of the epidemic, according to Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon on Tuesday evening, which is 7,578 more cases than on Monday. 22,757 people are currently hospitalized, including 5,565 serious cases which require intensive care. 468 people have been admitted to intensive care in the last 24 hours. 34% of people in intensive care are less than 60 years old and 60% are between 60 and 80 years old. Jérôme Salomon also clarified that 68 people in intensive care are under 30 years old. France has 3,523 hospital deaths on Tuesday, 499 more than Monday, but also 9,444 hospital discharges of people who have been cured. Jérôme Salomon recalled that it was a "severe deadly epidemic with a highly contagious virus" and that France was in a "completely new situation".  

Vaccination - The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has estimated  "that it may take at least a year to have a Covid-19 vaccine ready for approval and available in sufficient quantities to allow large-scale use". The Amsterdam-based agency added that two vaccines have already entered a first phase of clinical trials, conducted on healthy volunteers. This estimate is based on available information and past experiences in vaccine development, says the EMA.

Emergency number for victims of domestic violence - France's minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner, has announced that 114, an emergency number will be available from today to women victims of domestic violence during confinement. Reports of domestic violence are up by 32% in one week during this period of confinement due to the coronavirus. To get in touch with this free national line, all you have to do is send a text message to 114. This number is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Regulatory agents will then receive the message and contact the emergency service. the closest: the Samu (15), the police or the gendarmerie (17) or even the fire brigade (18). Other alert systems have been put in place in recent days to help abused women. An alert system has been set up in all pharmacies, and reception points  in shopping centers were announced on Sunday. 

Tax returns postponed by one week - The French government has announced that the opening date for income tax returns will be postponed by one week from April 9th to April 20th. The postponement is due to the current  containment measures which have been introduced to fight against the epidemic of the coronavirus.

Mask stocks secured by the army - In a statement on Tuesday, the French army wrote that "stocks of masks will be secured by soldiers of Operation 'Resilience", a mission dedicated to the fight against the Covid-19. In addition to various masks, transport and storage missions, two logistic officers have reinforced the Public Health France (SPF) crisis unit. The statement also said that on Tuesday, eight patients were "transferred as part of the operation 'Resilience', to relieve hospitals in the Grand Est region of France have been admitted to hospitals in Germany. 

Roman Abramovich offers help to local commuity on the Riviera - Russian billionaire and owner of the Chelsea football club, as well the owner of a huge estate in Cap d'AntibesRoman Abramovich has reportedly announced that he wishes to engage with local authorities to help during the coronavirus epedemic. Owner of Château de la Croë and seven hectares of land in Cap d'Antibes, where he regularly stays Abramovich wants to help the local community on the Côte d'Azur. "He is very keen to help, but no decision has yet been made on how this will translate into action. We have asked the authorities to let us know their most pressing needs so that we can make a decision." Also owner of the Chelsea football club in London, he has made the club hotel at Stamford Bridge available free of charge to NHS staff. Abramovich said he "will bear the costs".

SNCF - The SNCF has announced that TGV and TGVmax subscribers will be "given free of charge, the subscription for the month of April". In this unprecedented period of confinement, the SNCF, said they were aware of this imposed 'demobility', and has decided to take exceptional measures for its customers". Concerning TER subscriptions, the regional councils, have all decided on similar measures. The SNCF also confirms, as announced on March 9, the free exchange and reimbursement of TGV Inoui, Intercités and Ouigo, as well as the TER.

Dressmaker looking for volunteers - A dressmaker in Roquebrune has appealed for volunteers. Valérie Raibaut and her friends have already made more than 200 fabric masks. It all started with the creation of around 40 cloth masks. The seamstress creates washable masks composed of two layers of fabric (polyester and cotton), an elastic band and a slit on the top. "Of course, they will never be as reliable as the FFP2 or surgical masks. However, these “homemade” masks can be a first protective barrier for doctors or nurses of certain services but also police officers and gendarmes", said Raibault adding "We must help all those who risk their lives". Slowly but surely, the dressmaker has increased donations and nearly 300 masks have already been distributed to the Lenval Hospital in Nice, supermarkets, paramedics and pharmacies in Menton and Roquebrune. If you know how to sew (professional or amateur) or if you have fabric at home (cotton, polyester) and you want to donate it, you can contact Valérie Raibaut on Facebook via the "Creativ'handmade" account or on the account "Menton Solidaire". 

Popularity poll - The latest poll carried out by Ifop and published on Tuesday has on the whole, shown a strong increase in popularity of Emmanuel Macron linked to the health crisis. With 46% of respondents positively judging his actions, the Head of State is at a level he had not reached since February 2018. However, if the French close the ranks behind the Head of state, their confidence in the government to manage the crisis is rapidly decreasing. The rating of Edouard Philippe, very exposed in the management of the epidemic, climbs to 43% and returns to its level of June 2018, yet, a clear majority 57%, judge his actions unfavorably as the head of the government.

 

Business.

Global stock markets have suffered their worst quarter since 1987 amid a massive sell-off due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average in New York and the FTSE 100 in London saw their biggest drops for 33 years ,plunging 23 percent and 25 percent respectively. The falls have come as authorities around the world have ordered a halt to most activity in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Economists have warned that the hit to the global economy is likely to be far worse than the 2008 financial crisis with forecasters predicting that growth will shrink by 2.8 percent this year compared with a 1.7 percent drop in 2009. Growth in China is expected to slow to 2 percent while the UK economy is forecast to shrink by 4.5 percent with the outlook for Italy and other countries hard hit by the virus even worse. In the United States, central bank analysis has suggested that unemployment could rise to a staggering 32 percent over the next three months with some 47 million people losing their jobs. Energy and financial firms have been among the worst affected in the first quarter and retailers have also taken a big hit.

Some of the UK’s largest banks have agreed to scrap dividend payments and hold on to their cash. The Bank of England has welcomed the development and has urged banks not to pay bonuses to senior staff as well. The banks, including Barclays, NatWest and Santander had been due to pay out billions of pounds to shareholders but have been coming under increasing pressure to hold on to the money. Major banks had been expected to pay a total of 15.6 billion pounds to shareholders but will now not pay out anything until at least the end of the year. The Bank of England said that the move should help the banks to support the UK economy through 2020.

The US printer maker Xerox Holdings has walked away from its 35 billion dollar hostile cash and stock bid for HP as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision is a victory for HP and also a blow to the billionaire investor Carl Icahn who owns big stakes in both firms and had been pushing for a merger. Xerox said that it was disappointed by the development but stressed that its first priority was to its employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders. The firm added that it still believed that there were compelling long-term financial and strategic benefits in a potential tie-up with HP adding that it might look at the issue again once the coronavirus crisis has subsided.

 

Sport

Tennis - The cancellation of this year’s Wimbledon Championships seems all but inevitable following a series of emergency meetings by the All England Club. The Club says that a final decision is yet to be made but widespread reports say that the Championships are set to be cancelled for the first time since the Second World War. The French Open has already been pushed back by 4 months but because of the short grass court season it seems unlikely that Wimbledon will be able to go ahead at all. A final decision is expected within 24 hours.

Cricket - The Australia captain Tim Paine has said that he would “fully support” Steve Smith’s restoration to the skipper’s role. Paine took over the captaincy in March 2018 after Smith was banned from international cricket for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. He’s since returned to the national side and his two year ban on holding a leadership role is over. Paine said that if Smith wants to return to the role then he’d fully support his decision. Smith led Australia in 36 Tests between 2014 and 2018 with a record of 18 wins ,10 defeats and 6 draws.

Football - The Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has warned that “people need to wake up to the enormity of the coronavirus pandemic” as the club announced that 550 non-playing staff are to take a 20 percent pay cut. Levy is among the staff who will take a pay cut. He earned 7 million pounds last year  and said that the crushing devastation on industries in many countries  is only now beginning to be felt. He said that the virus knew no boundaries and that football was no exception.

Formula 1 - The revolutionary new Mercedes steering system will remain banned in 2021 despite regulations staying the same over the next two seasons. The move comes as part of a series of changes made by the sport’s governing body to tidy up the rules in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Mercedes “dual-axis” steering system was set to be outlawed under rule changes due in 2021 that have now been delayed. The DAS alters the toe of the front wheels between cornering and straights to reduce tyre wear and could be a significant advantage once racing finally gets underway this year.

 

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate westerly winds. Top temperature 14 degrees. Overnight lows of 7 degrees on the coast and 4 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Partially cloudy with highs of 13-15 degrees.

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