Evening Update Thursday 29 October 2020

President Macron has arrived in Nice this afternoon with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti after the attack in Nice this morning which claimed the lives of three people. Several other people were injured. The President has been to the scene where he has talked to security and rescue forces. A man with a knife entered the Notre Dame Basilica in the centre of Nice this morning and attacked several people. Reports say that two of the victims, a woman in her seventies and a man in his fifties died inside the church where they were working. A woman in her forties died in a nearby cafe where she had taken shelter. The attacker was arrested and is in the Pasteur Hospital with serious  injuries.

Speaking in Nice this afternoon President Macron denounced what he called "an Islamist terrorist attack" and said that the number of soldiers deployed throughout France as part of "Operation Sentinel" would be increased from 3,000 to 7,000. French Prime Minister Jean Castex earlier announced that the Vigipirate alert system for the whole of France has been increased to its highest level, the "emergency attack" level. A crisis meeting was held at the Interior Ministry this morning attended by President Macron, Prime Minister Jean Castex and Gerald Darmanin. A defence council meeting will take place tomorrow morning at the Elysee Palace.

The Interior Minister has asked prefects to increase the surveillance of places of worship and cemetries immediately. Churches across France have been tolling their bells this afternoon in tribute to the victims. President Macron said that security around schools would also be increased.

A nationwide psychological help unit has been set up to help support those affected by the attack. The contact number is 01 44 49 24 30.

In Avignon in the Bouches-du-Rhone an armed man was shot dead by police this morning after threatening passers by with a gun. Inquiries are continuing and its not known at this stage if the incident was terrorism related.

Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to give further details of the lockdown announced by President Macron last night during a press conference this evening. The new lockdown involves staying at home as much as possible. Travel will be limited, with a certificate, only to go to work, to go to a medical appointment, to assist a loved one, to do your shopping or to exercise near your home. Private meetings outside the family nucleus, public gatherings and travel between regions will be excluded, with the exception of returns from holidays from All Saints' Day until Sunday. Shops defined as non-essential and establishments open to the public, such as bars and restaurants, will be closed. Nurseries, schools, colleges and high schools will remain open with reinforced health protocols. Universities and higher education institutions will provide online courses. Work can continue but wherever possible by remote working. Public service counters will remain open. Factories, farms and construction will continue to operate. Visits to nursing homes and retirement homes will for the moment be authorized in strict compliance with health rules.


BUSINESS


French luxury goods company LVMH and US jeweller Tiffany have reached agreement regarding LVMH's acquisition of the company. LVMH will pay about $425m less to acquire Tiffany than was originally envisaged when it announced plans to buy the jeweller last November. The two companies have been engaged in an acrimonious dispute over the deal. The chairman of Tiffany Roger N. Farah said that the new deal was in the best interests of their stakeholders to achieve "certainty of closing".

UK telecoms company BT has announced a fall in pre-tax profits of 20% and a fall in revenues of 8% in the six months to the end of September. BT suffered from the suspension of live sport during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the company increased its profit guidance and said that it planned to reinstate its dividend from next year.

New figures released today by the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals for house purchases in September reached their highest level since September 2007. The number of approvals was also 24% higher than in February this year.

Unemployment in Germany has fallen. The German Labour Office said today that the number of people out of work in October fell by 35,000. There was also a large fall in the number of people on short-time work programmes designed to help employees and businesses during the pandemic.


SPORT

Rugby Union... In Six Nations news, Jonny Hill is set to make his England debut against Italy in Rome. Meanwhile, Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his debut for Wales in the match against Scotland on Saturday.

Ireland Women's Six Nations game against France on Sunday has been called off. The decision was taken after a covid-19 outbreak in the French camp but reports say that the match may be rescheduled to November.

Motorsports... Alfa Romeo has extended its deal with  Sauber meaning that the Alfa Romeo name will remain in Formula 1 next season. Alfa Romeo has had a commercial arrangement with Sauber since 2018 which enabled the Italian brand to return to Formula 1.

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