A press conference has been held this evening in Paris at which the Director General of Health Jerome Salomon gave an update on the pandemic. He began by saying that the number of infections reported each day has not fallen and remains particularly high in those aged over 75. He said that despite everything that has been done there is still a high risk of the epedemic rebounding and that despite an earlier sharp drop, the number of positive cases has "stalled" in the past week. He said that "we are still a long way" from the goal of less than 5,000 cases per day set by President Macron for the next stage of deconfinement on 15 December. The impact on hospitals remains high and the drop in the number of hospitalisations has slowed down. He said that the virus will continue to circulate actively over the next few months, the end of year celebrations raise fears for the circulation of the virus and he called for "awareness".
As regards the number of cases in hospitals, he said that today 26,365 people are in hospital with the virus, including 3,198 in intensive care and there are 3,411 more cases in 24 hours. He said that the French "had behaved very well" but reminded people that the authorities had called for "common sense" over the festive period. Asked if it is still reasonable to set the date for deconfinement at 15 December he responded that "if the current conditions continue it will indeed be very difficult to achieve this objective" and that any change in the deconfinement schedule will depend on the evolution in the next few days. He added that "we are in front of a powerful wave" which "takes advantage of the prevailing conditions in Europe" and that the winter season "will be very difficult".
The alleged perpetrator of the attack at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice has been charged with several offences. The anti-terrorism prosecutor said that the 21 year old Tunisian national had been charged with assasinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise, attempted assasinations in conection with a terrorist enterprise and participation in a criminal terrorist association. Three people died in the attack on 29 October. The accused is still in hospital in the Paris area.
Nice mayor Christian Esrosi has said that he's decided to open Auron and Isola2000 for high-level athletes and also for licensed minors within a sports association affiliated to the Fédération Française de Ski. The mayor pointed out that like all ski resorts in France, local ski stations are awaiting government decisions to open ski lifts for the school holidays. He reminded winter sports enthusiasts that Nordic skiing and snowshoeing activities are already open, especially in Saint Dalmas le Selvage.
SNCF has said that the date for exchanges and refunds of mainline tickets will be extended. The rail operator said that changes and refunds for TGV INOUI, OUIGO and InterCity trains will remain free of charge, up to 3 days inclusive before departure, for journeys until March 7, 2021. However, if the price of the new exchanged ticket is higher than the original ticket, travellers will be required to pay the difference.
Next year's Paris Air Show has been cancelled because of the pandemic. The event was scheduled to take place from 21 to 27 June but organizers said today that the next edition of the airshow, which is held in alternate years, will now be in June 2023.
Locally, the 88th edition of the Menton Lemon Festival has been postponed. The event was due to take place next February. The Menton Town Hall said that in the context of the current health crisis and in the absence of journeys offered by tour operators representing a quarter of visitors, it had been decided to delay the festival until 2022. The Fête du Citron normally attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.
Meteo France have a yellow warning for storms in the Var in operation from 2am to midday tomorrow, Tuesday. There's also a yellow warning for avalanches in the Alpes Maritimes until at least 4pm tomorrow.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi held a meeting this morning with Dr Philippe Pouletty, a pioneer in the field of biotechnology and medical devices. The discussion centred around the opportunities for surgical robotics in the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole.
A mobile coronavirus testing station will be in several towns in the Var this coming week. The station will be in Cuers tomorrow, Gonfaron on Wednesday, Flassans-sur-Issole on Friday and in La Seyne-sur-Mer on Thursday and Saturday. Tests are free but don't forget your Carte Vitale or identity documents. You can get more information at www.var.gouv.fr
The Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has reminded people that Christmas decorations are the cause of many accidents every year. A reminder of the dos and don'ts can be found on the French government's website at https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites/L-actu-du-Ministere/Decorations-de-Noel-evitez-les-accidents
Societe Generale has said that it will merge the retail banking networks of Credit du Nord and Societe Generale. It said that the branch network would still have the same territorial footprint but the total number of branches will be reduced. Societe Generale said that the changes would not require any compulsory redundancies.
Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, has become the latest UK retailer to repay business rates relief it obtained from the governement during the pandemic. Many UK supermarket chains and discount retailers have also agreed to repay the relief in the past week.
Retail footfall in the UK over the weekend was down 30% on last year according to figures released this morning. Market research firm Springboard said that the number of shoppers in London was about half the normal figure in the run up to Christmas.
UK high street retailer Frasers Group has said that it is in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams regarding a potential rescue deal for the UK operations of the department store chain. However, Frasers added that there is no certainty that any transaction will take place.
Cricket.... England's tour of South Africa has been called off after two members of the touring party returned "unconfirmed positive tests" for coronavirus. A one day international had been planned for Wednesday, with England expected then to depart on Thursday.
Cycling.... Geraint Thomas has said that he'll be back on a bike today after a crash in training yesterday. The 34 year old received treatment after dislocationg his shoulder in a crash on an icy surface.
Athletics... A new half-marathon record has been set in Valencia in a highly competitive race in which the top four finishers all broke the previous record. Kenya's Kibiwott Kandie finished in first place with a time of 57 minutes 32 seconds, which is 29 seconds faster than the previous world record.