Evening Update Thursday 16 September 2021

President Macron has said that the requirement for a health pass will be lifted in certain regions "as soon as conditions allow..where the virus circulates the least". He welcomed the results produced by the health pass requirement so far. However, speaking to French media today he added that "we are not yet in a situation" which allows measures to be reduced.

Several Covid-19 restrictions are set to be lifted in the Var. As of tomorrow, Friday, September 17, at midnight, the following three health measures are lifted in the Var, namely the obligation to present a health pass at the entrance to 6 Var shopping centers of more than 20,000 m², the ban on consuming alcohol on public roads and the obligation to wear a mask in 58 towns along the coast, the Pays de Fayence and the Gapeau valley. However, many other health measures will still remain in force. The Prefecture said that until October 4, the obligation to wear a mask for anyone over 11 years old is maintained in all municipalities in outdoor spaces open to the public with high densities of people. Examples include outdoor markets, sales and funfairs, large gatherings of people including certain demonstrations on public roads, festivals, outdoor concerts and outdoor sporting events, on the forecourt, waiting areas and platforms of bus, railway and maritime stations, in all sports arenas, in queues and also in the open-air shopping centres Avenue 83 in La Valette-du-Var, Galerie - Géant in Fréjus and the Village des Talents Créatifs in Puget-sur-Argens. Wearing a mask also remains compulsory until October 4 inclusive throughout the department in all establishments receiving the public subject to the health pass. More details can be found at www.var.gouv.fr

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has said it is closing 11 of its French stores because of problems supplying them with fresh and chilled foods since Brexit. It said all 11 franchise stores it operates with partner SFH in France will close by the end of this year. However, nine M&S stores at French travel hubs run by Lagardere Travel Retail will continue to operate and are unaffected by the decision. Marks and Spencer's online presence in France is also unaffected. The stores which will close are located mostly in Paris. M&S used to have a store in Nice which closed about 20 years ago.

President Macron has announced plans to introduce new laws for self-employed people. The changes include easier access to unemployment insurance and greater protection of personal assets.

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian has expressed his anger after the cancellation by Australia of a contract with France to purchase 12 conventional submarines. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the cancellation is "not a change of mind, it's a change of need". Australia, the United States and the UK have announced an historic security pact which will see the US and UK provide Australia with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.

People learning to drive in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region will be able to make an appontment for a driving test online. The online reservation system is already operational in 17 departments of Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine, and is now being extended to the six departments of the PACA region. Details are available on the Interior Ministry's website https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/actualites/communiques/rdv-permis-systeme-de-reservation-en-ligne-des-places-pour-lexamen-pratique

A world congress of Artificial Intelligence has been announced for Cannes next February. The event will be held at the Palais des Festivals and will bring together industrialists, researchers, funders, academics, politicians, scientists and the general public. New discoveries and new products in the Artificial Intelligence area will be presented and the event also aims to educate the population on the benefits and risks of the technology.

 

BUSINESS

Ryanair has announced new expansion plans. It said that subject to no adverse Covid developments, and vaccinations remaining at 90%+ across Europe, Ryanair will take delivery of 210 Boeing 737 Max aircraft over the next 5 years. It said that it will open 10 new bases across Europe this year and expects to create over 5,000 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers over the next 5 years. Ryanair said that its pre-Covid traffic of 149 million is expected to grow to over 225 million guests by March 2026.

The UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the Co-op, has reported an underlying operating loss before tax of £15m for the first half of its financial year, which is down by £71 million from 2020. It said that "the unplanned supply chain challenges" and ongoing Covid costs will bring greater levels of uncertainty. It also announced a partnership with Amazon Prime for online grocery deliveries. As well as being a food retailer, the Co-op is also a funeral services provider, a major general insurer and has a growing legal services business.


SPORT

Motorsports... Aston Martin have confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will continue at the team for the 2022 season alongside Lance Stroll. Vettel said today that he was looking forward to the new style of car which will be introduced next year and said it will be a great opportunity for Aston Martin.

Football...The group phase of the Europa League gets underway tonight. Leicester play Napoli in Group C while West Ham travel to Dinamo Zagreb in Group H. Rangers host Lyon in Group A with Celtic away at Real Betis in Group G. Monaco are at home to Sturm Graz in Group B. Kick off at the Stade Louis II is at 9pm tonight.

Horseracing... Jockey Benoit de la Sayette has been banned for six months after failing a drugs test. The positive test was announced in April by the British Horseracing Authority and the six month ban has been backdated, meaning he could potentially race again in October if all other requirements are met.

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