Evening Update Thursday 22nd April 2021

The number of cases of Covid 19 per 100,000 people in the Alpes-Martimes has dropped to its lowest level in six months today. The region had 192 cases per 100,000 people over the past week. The Var remains at the national average of 321 while the Bouches-du-Rhone remains one of the worst affected areas of France with 504.

There has been mixed reaction to last night’s announcement by Prime Minister Jean Castex that restrictions confining people to a 10-kilometre radius of their homes, will be dropped from May 3rd, but that the 7pm curfew will remain in place

Several high-profile mayors along the Cote d’Azur have jointly called for an accelerated end to lockdown`, including the reopening of local shops, beaches & terraces and abolishing curfew. Health professionals have expressed concern saying the reopening schedule is likely to increase epidemic pressure and further saturate hospitals in France.

Shootings continue in the Moulins area of Nice. A man reported to be in his fifties or early sixties, was shot in the leg outside a boulangerie yesterday afternoon.  Police are looking for two youths who fled the scene to help with their enquiries.

Many people have chosen to avoid cancer screening tests over the past twelve months, in the fear they may catch corona-virus. This is according to a report by the Antoine Lacassagne Centre based beside Pasteur Hospital in Nice, which is known as one of the best hospitals in the world for the treatment of cancer. They estimate almost 100,000 cancers will not have been detected last year, which is the same number as victims claimed by Covid. The Centre urges people to make and keep their appointments for standard cancer screenings.

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has been fined €3,000 for defaming an academic, who was acquitted in 2007 of transporting three migrant women into France. At the time Monsieur Estrosi made comments on Twitter, which the court decided today were defamatory and painted the academic Pierre-Alain Mannoni as a smuggler of terrorists. The Mayor is to appeal the decision.

There is a little bit of France in space this evening as Thomas Pesquet blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral in a SpaceX rocket to spend the next six months on the International Space Station.  The 43 year old from Rouen regularly flew into Nice as an Air France captain before joining the European Space Agency in 2009.  This is the third manned flight for SpaceX the private company founded by Elon Musk.

BUSINESS

The French Economy Minister has said the country will support SME’s and family businesses which, would have been strong, had it not been for Corona Virus. Bruno Le Marie said any business with a wall of debt caused by the pandemic will be able to access new supports in the next three weeks. He also hinted at extending the state loan guarantee scheme to possibly eight years.

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are plunging today, as a proposed capital gains tax hike from US President Joe Biden has led to a wave of selling.  Bitcoin is down to almost €40,000 a coin after trading around the 50,000 mark since Easter.

President Biden is expected to raise long-term capital gains tax for the wealthiest Americans to 43.4% including a surtax. That would be higher than the top federal tax rate on wage income.

SPORT

Football - Ireland has lost four of the Euro 2020 games it was due to host because of Covid-19 issues.  Three of the games, due to be played in Dublin, will move to St Petersburg, while its last 16 knockout match will held be at Wembley in the UK instead.

Bilbao's four games have been moved to Seville, while Munich will keep the matches it is scheduled to host.  Ireland lost the matches because it was unable to give UEFA assurances on the minimum amount of spectators who would be allowed attend the games.

Tennis - Benoit Paire has been barred from representing France at the Tokyo Olympics in July because of his deeply inappropriate behaviour. The French number four and world number 35 has been criticised for his on-court behaviour most recently for spitting at the Argentina Open in March. After his first-round exit in Monte Carlo this month, Paire said tennis does not make him happy anymore and criticised the Covid-19 bubble protocols. The French Tennis Federation said his behaviour was totally incompatible with the Olympic spirit.

Formula 1 - Red Bull have hired Ben Hodgkinson from rivals Mercedes to be the technical director of their all-new engine division. Red Bull say Hodgkinson, who has worked for Mercedes for two decades, will join them once the terms of his current contract are fulfilled.

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