Evening Update Thursday 20 May 2021

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced this evening that vaccination will be open to all adults regardless of age or state of health from May 31. The opening up of vacciantion to all adults was previously scheduled to take place from June 15. He also said that vaccination would be opened to people in "priority professions" such as teachers, regardless of age, as from this coming Monday, May 24.

Earlier today, Jean Castex called for people to act responsibly after the re-opening of terraces yesterday. Speaking on a visit to the Loir-et-Cher department this afternoon he said that "nobody wants to close the terraces" and that it's "in our common interest to respect the rules". The Prime Minister's remarks come after reports that barrier gestures were not being observed in places and CRS riot police intervened in Rennes after crowds breached the newly extended 9pm curfew.

Regarding the summer sales, Jean Castex said that the government is considering changing to dates of the sales on a territorial basis. Last year, the sales dates were postponed by several weeks, leading to complaints from retailers in certain areas.

The World Health Organization's Director for Europe has said that people need to "rethink or avoid international travel" because of "a continued threat and new uncertainty". Hans Kluge said today that the India coronavirus variant has been recorded in at least 26 of the 53 countries in the organization's Europe region. He said that so far 23% of people in the region have received a  vaccine dose with 11% having had both doses. He added that all current variants respond to authorised vaccines.

The European Commission has signed a new contract with Pfizer and BioNTech for an additional 1.8 billion vaccine doses between the end of 2021 to 2023. It will allow for the purchase of 900 million doses of the current vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an additional 900 million doses. The contract requires that the vaccine production is based in the EU and that essential components are sourced from the EU.

The Antibes town hall has produced a useful guide to health protocols. The new guide summarises permitted activities from 19 May, 9 June and 30 June and can be found on https://www.antibes-juanlespins.com/toute-l-actu/agenda-des-reouvertures

A squat of 12 people near the voie rapide in Nice has been dismantled. The municipal and national police as well as SNCF security personnel were involved in the operation. First deputy mayor of Nice, Anthony Borre also visited the site.


BUSINESS

Australian airline Quantas has announced new cost-cutting measures to help it deal with the impact of the  pandemic. It forecast that it would report an annual loss before tax of more than A$2bn in its current financial year which ends in June. CEO Alan Joyce said that the financial figures it released today show the ongoing financial damage of COVID. However, he added that the business is now generating enough cash to start paying back some of the debt it took on to get through the pandemic.

easyJet has said that it expects to fly about 15% of its 2019 capacity levels in its third quarter from April to June with an expectation that capacity levels will start to increase from June onwards. It said that it maintains significant flexibility to ramp capacity up or down quickly depending on the unwinding of travel restrictions and expected demand.

Meanwhile, easyJet holidays has announced that it has become the first major tour operator to offset the carbon emissions from its package holidays – comprising the fuel used for flights and in-destination transfers, as well as the energy used from hotel stays. The move comes in to force from today and has also been retrospectively applied to all holidays since the new operator launched in November 2019.

DIY store operator Kingfisher has reported like for like sales up by 64.2% for the quarter to 30 April and corresponding 2-year like for like sales up 22.5%. CEO Thierry Garnier said that e-commerce continues to be its fastest-growing channel with two-year growth of over 250% and now accounts for 21% of Group sales. Kingfisher owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and several other European brands.

 

SPORT

Motorsports... Charles Leclerc was fastest in second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was in second, Lewis Hamilton in third, Max Verstappen in fourth and Valtteri Bottas in fifth. Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was fastest in this morning's first practice. Carlos Sainz was in second, with Max Verstappen in third, Pierre Gasly fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth. Charles Leclerc suffered an engine problem. Fernando Alonso hit a barrier, damaging a wing, but managed to continue. Third practice is at noon on Saturday followed by qualifying at 3pm and the race itself is at 3 pm on Sunday.

Cricket... It's been announced that the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League will take place in the United Arab Emirates. Games were halted in March after seven cases of coronavirus were reported within the competition bubble. The tournament is set to resume on 1 June with 20 matches remaining to be played.

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