Evening Update Thursday 24 April 2020

French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire has said that he wants "all businesses" to re-open on May 11, excluding bars, restaurants and cafes. He said that "nothing would be worse" for that sector than to re-open "in a rush". He said that no date has been set for the re-opening of bars, restaurants and cafes, despite speculation that June 15 is being considered. The minister added that the re-opening of all businesses must be done "under conditions of total health security for employees, entrepreneurs and traders". As regards the possibility of opening some regions of France before others, he said that a health assessment must be made and it will be up to health authorities to make recommendations to the government. He added that the government is preparing a "national deconfinement protocol" and will be consulting all sectors during the preparation of the protocol.

President Macron this morning held a four hour video-conference with mayors from throughout France, including several from our region. The Elysee commented on the planned re-opening of schools from May 11, saying there would be a "gradual, concerted, adapted reopening" and emphasised that the return to school would be without obligation - it would be up to parents to decide whether their children should return. During the meeting, the President reportedly said that deconfinement will not be done in a "regionalised manner". The President's staff said that a national framework will be set but room for maneuver will be given to local elected officials, particularly in regard to school re-openings and local transport.

Locally, a large-scale distribution of masks has got underway in Mandelieu La Napoule. A total of 135,000 masks are being sent out by the town hall over the next 10 days. Delivery of a package of masks with instructions is being done by post and will be in order of descending age group, with those over 75 years of age receiving their masks first. The town hall will contact recipients by text message or landline after the delivery for each age group has been completed.

A man is in police custody after allegedly biting a police officer in the hand during an exit documentation control. According to reports, the incident took place on rue Arson in Nice. The hotel worker in his thirties has requested a postponement of his court appearance in order to pepare his defence.

A building in central Nice was evacuated because of a gas leak this afternoon. A security cordon was set up and reports say that 16 fire personnel attended the incident on rue Arson. It's thought that the leak may have been caused by construction work.


New data has been released by the US government this afternoon showing that 4.4 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total so far to 26.4 million since March, which is about 15% of the total US workforce. However, it's the third week in a row that the number has declined. Earlier in the pandemic over 6 million Americans per week were filing jobless claims.

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has said that he's hopeful 80% of flights could resume by October if travel restrictions are eased in July. However, in an interview with the Financial Times, he said that the idea of flying with the middle seat of a row empty was "idiotic" as it did not ensure a safe 2 metre distance between passengers and was not profitable for the airline. He added that if the Irish government imposed the rule, it would have to pay for the middle seat or Ryanair would refuse to fly.

Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that the UK government's budget deficit hit £48.7bn in the 2019-20 financial year. However, the ONS said that the numbers didn't capture the large spending announced by the UK government to cope with the virus. Speaking to the BBC, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the figures were "the numbers before the storm" and that the UK's budget deficit is set to see "an absolutely colossal increase to a level not seen in peacetime".

A new survey of UK purchasing managers has shown a large contraction in economic activity. In the IHS Markit/CIPS survey a figure above 50 shows expansion, below 50 shows contraction. The reading for April came in at 12.9, which is by far the worst figure since comparable surveys started over 20 years ago.

Athletics... The Diamond League has postponed meetings in Eugene, Orgeon on 7 June and Paris on 13 June. 7 Diamond League events have now been postponed this year because of the virus pandemic.

Football..  Uefa says that it plans to relese 70 million euros of benefit payments to European clubs relating to Euro 2020 immediately. The payments will be made to 676 clubs in total, in all 55 Uefa member countries and the amounts will range from 3,200 euros up to 630,000 euros.

Uefa have confirmed the postponement of  the 2021 Women's European Championship. It will now take place from 6 - 31 July 2022. The Championship has been delayed because the men's European Championship and the Tokyo Olympics were both postponed until 2021.

Golf... A charity golf tournament is set to take place in the United Sates next month to raise funds for the coronavirus relief effort. Reports say that the event is likely to be held in Florida and will feature Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as well as American football players Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It would take place behind closed doors but would be televised.

Horse Racing... Australian jockey Luke Tarrant has been banned for 6 months for assaulting another jockey and breaching coronavirus separation rules. Horse racing has continued during the lockdown in Australia but races have been held without spectators being present and have been subject to strict distancing rules.

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