French and Riviera News. Wednesday July 1st 2020

Summer drownings- Shocking swimming accident statistics from the south of France show that there have been 8 deaths in a week.

The latest fatal accident involved a 60 year old man who drowned while swimming off a Cannes beach on Tuesday.On Monday a 90 year old woman died after being taken ill while swimming off Saint Laurent du Var.

Water safety experts are reminding the public of basic rules to follow when swimming in the sea or a private pool.

Parents are urged never to leave children unattended and to get them to learn to swim at the earliest possible age.

Anyone swimming should always tell someone else before they enter the water and where possible ,stay in sight of beach lifeguards or monitors.

Accidental drownings cause more than 1,000 deaths in France annually and statistics show that one in five French adults can’t swim.

 

Open Sky- The new Green Mayor of Valbonne has said that he will take time to negotiate with the developers of the controversial Open Sky commercial centre before deciding how,if at all  the site should be developed.

The French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his willingness for there to be a moratorium on all commercial developments as part of his commitment to an environmental rethink and Mayor Joseph Cesario says that will allow the town council a “valuable breathing space”.

Mr Cesario says that he wrote to the President last December to urge such a moratorium but he hasn’t definitively ruled out development of the Open Sky site at Les Clausonnes but insists that it must be environmentally friendly.

The Open Sky development has caused widespread anger among local residents who question why another commercial development is necessary in an area that is already well served through Cap 3000 , Polygone Riviera and various other commercial centres  and hypermarkets.

 

Air France- Air France is to double the number of flights to and from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport between now and August.

The south of France is the most popular  domestic holiday destination for French people who’ve decided not to go abroad this summer and with the EU lifting travel restrictions for some countries where the coronavirus risk is considered low , there is a need for an increased number of flights.

The move should help tourism and local businesses to increase turnover after what has been a very difficult three months because of the pandemic.

Air France should be offering 70 percent of its normal capacity at Nice by the middle of next month and the regular Orly Shuttle service will resume on the 1st of September for business travellers.

 

No new radar - Authorities say there is no new speed camera on the A57 near Sollies Pont despite widespread rumours on social media.

Bogus reports said that the new radar had been set up on the westbound side of the road but the Var prefecture say that it’s fake news.

Authorities say that they are obliged by law to erect a warning sign to advise motorists in the event of a new speed camera being installed.

Several new generation speed cameras are due to be set up on roads in both the Alpes Maritimes and the Var before the end of the year. The new cameras will not only be able to detect speeding but also a range of other offences such as use of a mobile phone or not wearing a seat belt.

 

Simple Minds- The legendary Scottish rock group Simple Minds have rescheduled their Monaco concert for the 23rd of July 2021.

The band ,whose hits include “Don’t you forget about me” , “Waterfront” , “See the Lights” and many ,many more had been due to play at the Salle des Etoiles on the 7th of August but had to cancel their tour because of the coronavirus pandemic.

People with tickets for the 7th of August should contact the vendor or call the SBM direct on 00377 98 06 36 36.

 

In National News.

 

Panic in Paris- Rumours that an armed man had been seen on the streets of the Defense business district of Paris on Tuesday caused brief panic in the French capital.

Police sealed off several streets in the area following a call to authorities at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The large police operation caused panic on the streets and saw children confined to their classrooms in local schools.

An  extensive search of the streets and a local shopping precinct failed to find any signs of an armed man and the area returned to normal during the afternoon.

 

Coronavirus enquiry-The former French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has been questioned by a Parliamentary commission looking at how well France had been prepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Minister who quit her role to fight the Paris municipal elections for Emmanuel Macron’s  La Republique en Marche party where she was defeated by the incumbent Anne Hidalgo ,said in January that France was “extremely well prepared” to contain the virus just three weeks after the first cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Agnes Buzyn says that she alerted the director of the French National Health Agency about the new coronavirus on the 20th of December last year and informed President Macron on the 11th of January.

The key question which the former Minister is facing is why there were not enough initial stocks of PPE and face masks.

Stocks had dwindled from more than a billion surgical masks in 2010 to 117 million at the start of 2020.In addition ,stocks of other PPE items such as gowns and aprons had been allowed to run to unacceptably low levels.

A number of other former Health Ministers are also due to be questioned by the Commission including Marisol Touraine , Roselyne Bachelot and Xavier Bertrand.

 

Meanwhile ,France reported 30 new deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday bringing the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 29,843.

602 people remain in intensive care with 8,536 receiving hospital treatment.

 

Unemployment fraud -The French government is investigating more than 12,000 cases of unemployment fraud linked to its coronavirus financial rescue package.

Reports say that four firms have already been identified for making false claims and are being sued.

The French Employment Ministry says that as many as 850 firms are being investigated for possible fraud.

12,000 inspections of company books have already been examined and authorities are aiming to complete 50,000 audits by the end of August.

Sanctions for offenders include 2 year jail terms  and fines of up to 30,000 euros.Firms found guilty will also have to pay back any government aid and barred from receiving any more for 5 years.

 

Business.

 

The UK economy contracted more than first thought in the first quarter in the joint largest fall since 1979.

Official figures show that the economy shrank by 2.2 percent in the period between January and March down from a previous ONS estimate of 2 percent.

There was a significant economic impact in March as the coronavirus pandemic started to have an effect.

The UK is expected to officially enter recession when the figures for the second quarter are added and the country may well be in a depression when third and fourth quarter data is factored in.

The news came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a major speech  on Tuesday promising to kick start the post-virus economy with a range of ambitious infrastructure projects. Mr Johnson said that there would be spending on roads ,transport ,schools and hospitals and that the government aimed to provide jobs and training for millions of people.

 

The budget airline EasyJet has announced that its started consultations on plans to close its bases at London Stansted ,Southend and Newcastle.

The move comes following an announcement in May that the airline is considering shedding a third of its workforce because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pilots Union BALPA says that it’s been told that EasyJet is planning to make 727 UK based pilots redundant which would amount to one in three of the airline’s pilots..

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgre  said that lower demand meant that the airline needed fewer aircraft and there is less opportunity for work.He said that the firm was committed to working constructively with employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.

BALPA said that the cuts were “an excessive over-reaction”.

 

And- The fossil fuel giant Shell has warned that the low price of oil could reduce the value of its assets by up to 22 billion dollars.

Shell says that it expects the price of crude to be around 60 dollars a barrel in the long term and for prices to be at 35 dollars this year and 40 dollars in 2021.

Shell joins rival BP in writing down the value of its assets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting falling demand for crude.

Before Tuesday’s update ,Shell had been factoring in a price of 60 dollars barrel for the next three years.

Analysts say that it’s time that fossil fuel firms started investing more heavily in green energy and attempting to wean investors off large dividends without losing too much market capitalisation.

Firms are also facing what could be costly changes to attitudes to international air travel  and the use of fossil fuel burning cars for work.

 

Sport.

 

Football-There was one game in the English Premier League last night.Manchester United kept up their bid for a Champions League spot with a 3-0 win at Brighton.

 

There are 4 games tonight.Arsenal play Norwich.Bournemouth host Newcastle.Everton play Leicester and West Ham host Chelsea.

 

In the English Championship last night-Millwall and Swansea drew 1-1.Barnsley beat Blackburn 2-0. Cardiff and Charlton drew 0-0.Reading lost 3-0 at home to Brentford.QPR went down 2-1 at home to Fulham.Leeds and Luton drew 1-1 and Wigan beat Stoke 3-0.

Leeds top the table with 75 points ahead of West Brom who have a game in hand on 71.

Brentford ,Fulham ,Nottingham Forest and Cardiff are in the playoff places.

 

Formula 1-Ferrari have been forced to make a major redesign of their car as a result of flaws discovered since it ran in pre-season testing in February.

The car will run in pre-season specification at this weekend’s opening Grand Prix of the season in Austria with an upgrade for the Hungarian Grand Prix on the 19th of July.

Team principal Mattia Binotto said work on understanding why the car was off the pace had led to a “significant change of direction” in terms of development.

 

Cricket-It’s been confirmed that Ben Stokes will captain England for the first time in next week’s first Test against West Indies in Southampton. Joe Root is missing the match to attend the birth of his second child.

Stokes says he’s delighted to get the captaincy and will not change his style of play.

 

Weather.

 

Partially cloudy in coastal areas ,some scattered thunderstorms inland this afternoon and light variable winds.

Top temperatures 27-30 degrees.

Overnight lows of 21 degrees on the coast and 18 degrees inland with clear skies.

Thursday and Friday-Fine in coastal areas ,showers inland tomorrow. Possible thunderstorms in coastal areas on Friday. Highs of 27-31 degrees.

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