Evening Update Thursday 14 May 2020

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has raised the prospect of cafes and restaurants being able to re-open on 2 June. In a major announcement concerning the tourism sector he said that such a re-opening "may be considered" but would only be permitted in departments classified as green and subject to the evolution of the pandemic and appropriate health measures being respected. A final decision will be taken during the week beginning 25 May. The Alpes Maritimes and the Var are currently classified as green. He said that restaurant and bar owners should prepare themselves to implement health protocols. The limit on the use of restaurant vouchers will be doubled from 19 to 38 euros and will  be usable at weekends and on bank holidays until the end of the year.

As regards the summer holidays, the Prime Minister said that it's "reasonable to think that the French will be able to go on vacation in France, in July and August" subject to what he called "possible very localised restrictions" and to the progress of the epedemic. He said that the government was making what he called an "unprecedented" plan involving "18 billion euros in commitments" to the tourism sector and that partial unemployment for businesses in the sector would be extended until at least the end of September.

Separately, SNCF have said this evening that reservations for this summer will open tomorrow.

The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has issued a third municipal decree to maintain the obligation to wear a mask in public spaces. The measure came into effect yesterday. It means that wearing a mask is obligatory in Nice when social distancing measures can't be respected. Controls have begun, with offenders being subject to a €38 fine. The measure is in place until June 1st.

The French government has announced that private gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed, but are still strongly discouraged. The Ministry of the Interior said that recent decrees do not prohibit "gatherings of more than ten people in private places" but "hygiene measures must be applied in all places and in all circumstances, including in private places".

The French government has said that it would be unacceptable for French pharmaceuticals company Sanofi to give priority to any particular country for distribution of vaccines.  The company's CEO said in an interview yesterday that the United States would have the right to the "largest pre-order" of a coronavirus vaccine because it was providing funding. Deputy Finance Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said today that the government has received assurances from Sanofi, which is based in Paris, that vaccines would be made available to all countries, including France. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that he had received the assurances when he spoke to the Chairman of Sanofi. He added that "equal access to the vaccine is not negotiable".
Unemployment in France fell from 8.1% to 7.8% in the first quarter of the year. However, the French statistics agency INSEE, which released the figures, said that the reason for the fall was that some unemployed people had given up looking for jobs because of the confinement measures and the fact that many businesses had closed.

In other news, a motorcyclist is in a serious condition in hospital after an accident in Nice in the early hours of this morning. The man in his twenties crashed his motorbike on the Voie Rapide. An investigation is underway to establish the circumstances of the accident.

Meteo France have a Yellow weather warning in force for the Var and the Alpes Maritimes for storms until 3am tomorrow, Friday, and for heavy rain and flooding from 10pm this evening until 3am tomorrow.


New figures released this afternoon show that almost 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the United States last week. The latest figures mean that the total number of jobless claims has reached almost 36 million since mid-March, the equivalent to nearly one quarter of the entire US workforce. The weekly figure has, however, been declining since its peak at the end of March.

Honda has announced that it plans to restart production at its plant in Swindon in the UK during the week beginning 1 June. The company closed the factory in March because of the virus outbreak.

Insurance market Lloyd's of London has said it expects coronavirus related claims to cost it between $3bn and $4.3bn. It said that the amount could rise further if lockdowns continue into another quarter.

The head of the World Trade Organization is stepping down. Roberto Azevedo has been the WTO's Director General since 2013 and is expected to relinquish the role in September, a year before his term was due to expire.

Norwegian technology company Pexip, which is a rival to video conferencing business Zoom, made its debut on the Oslo Stock Exchange today.


Motorsports.... It's been announced that Daniel Ricciardo will be moving to McLaren net year. He will replace Carlos Sainz, who is moving to Ferrari. Details were announced by both teams this morning. Ricciardo will partner Lando Norris, while Sainz is replacing Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

Cricket... England players will begin individual training next week in the first step to returning to action after the virus outbreak. About 30 players will be invited to train at 11 venues. The players and venues are being confirmed on Monday. There will be no matches in England or Wales until at least 1 July.

Rugby Union... An in-depth review of Premiership Rugby rules has been published. The review was instigated after Saracens were docked 35 points and fined £5.3m for breaches of the salary cap and then automatically relegated after failing to prove the club would comply this season. Recommendations in the review include  stripping clubs of titles and suspensions if salary caps were broken in the future and the introduction of stronger investigatory powers.

Cycling... This year's Tour of Britain has been cancelled. The race was due to take place in September. The Women's Tour stage race in Britain and the Tour de Yorkshire have also been cancelled for this year. Organisers say the 2021 Tour of Britain will go ahead next September and use the same route which would have been used for this year's race.

Football... Borussia Dortmund have re-tweeted a plea from local authorities asking fans to stay away from the ground and not gather outside the stadium when football resumes. Dortmund are set to play Schalke this weekend.

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