Evening Update Thursday 17 September 2020

French Minister of Health Olivier Veran has been providing an update this evening on the government’s coronavirus strategy and has specifically addressed the circulation of the virus in the Alpes Maritimes. He said that the government has asked the prefect of the department, as well as the prefect of the Rhône department, to propose by Saturday "measures that must be taken to limit the spread of the virus". He said that the limit of available hospital beds is near being reached in the Alpes Maritimes. He added that the incidence rate is particularly high in these departments. He said that in areas such as Marseille and Guadeloupe it may be necessary to take even stronger measures than at present if intensive care admissions increase and the health situation doesn't improve.

The minister confirmed that an acceleration of the virus had been observed over the past few weeks. He said the number of new infections per 100,000 people stood at 83 last night compared to 10 at the end of July and 40 at the end of August. However, he added that on average one sick person infects two other people every 15 days at the moment, which points to a slower circulation of the virus than earlier in the pandemic. The minister also mentioned prioritisation of testing and that antigenic testing experiments will be carried out in Paris hospitals. It's envisaged that this will be the first of a series of weekly updates on the coronavirus situation presented by the minister.

Organizers of the Tour de France have said today that only 5,000 spectators will be allowed to gather to watch the finish on the Champs Elysees on Sunday. The limit is in line with crowd restrictions applied in coronavirus Red Zones. The public won't be allowed in paddock areas or certain areas just before the finish line.

A demonstration was held in the centre of Nice this morning as part of a national day of industrial action by unions. At least several hundred demonstrators gathered in the Place Massena at about 10.00 for a march towards the Place Garibaldi. Organizers put the number at 1,000. Demonstrations were also held in several other towns and cities in our region including in Toulon, Draguignan and Marseille. Public transport is also disrupted today. Tram services in Nice aren't operating and many Lignes d'Azur bus lines are disrupted. You can get more information at www.lignesdazur.com SNCF say that various TER trains in our area are either cancelled or rescheduled and say that disruption is possible through until 7.55am tomorrow. You can find details about specific services on the sncf website www.sncf.com   or on the SNCF Mobile App.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has announced today that special recognition will be given to certain couples separated by coronavirus restrictions. The new measures will concern couples consisting of a French national and a foreign national who are not married and not in a civil partnership. Many such couples have been separated during the pandemic because of lack of official reconition of their status.

An earthquake has been recorded in the Loire-Atlantique department this afternoon. The quake, of magnitude 3.5, occurred just after midday and was centred about 41 km SSW of Nantes at a depth of 2km below the earth's surface.

Another event on the Cote d'Azur has been postponed because of the pandemic. The Gourmet Escapade in Bormes-les-Mimosas was scheduled to take place from September 24 to 27 but has now been postponed to next year. The municipality said that it regretted having to take the decision but said it was "faced with the impossibility of making restrictive measures coexist with the festive atmosphere desired" for the event.

 

BUSINESS

The Bank of England has left interest rates unchanged at 0.1%. The Bank also left the amount of Quantative Easing unchanged.

New figures from New Zealand's official data agency Stats NZ show that the country's economy contracted by 12.2% between April and June compared to the previous quarter. GDP fell by 1.4% in the first quarter, meaning that New Zealand entered its first recession since the global financial crisis.

UK retailer John Lewis has announced a pre-tax loss of 635 million pounds for the six months to 25 July. It wrote down the value of its stores by 470 million pounds. However, it reported that sales increased by 1%. The partnership confirmed that staff will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953.

P&O Cruises have announced that all cruises will be cancelled until early next year. The company's sailings are currently suspended and will now remain so until January or February depending on location. The company said that affected passangers will either receive a 100% refund or credit of 125% to be used against a future trip.

 

SPORT

Tour de France... Michal Kwiatkowski has won Stage 18 today. It's his first individual Grand Tour win.

Football... Liverpool have agreed a deal for Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara. The midfielder has signed a four year contract with the club.

The Premier League has agreed a new broadcast deal in China for the rest of the 2020-2021 season. A contract has been signed with Tencent Sports and viewers in China will have access to matches from this weekend.

 

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