Evening Update Thursday 8 October 2020

French Health Minister Olivier Veran has been giving his weekly coronavirus update this evening and said that there has been a significant improvement in Nice. He added that a positive change was also observed in Aix-Marseille and in Bordeaux. However, he said that the health situation nationally "continues to deteriorate" and that the metopolitan areas of Lille, Genoble, Lyon and Saint-Etienne will become "maximum alert" zones as from Saturday morning. He said that as far as Toulouse and Montpellier are concerned, another few days of observation would be made before deciding if they should become "maximum alert" zones.

Also speaking this evening Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced a range of measures to help businesses, including the enlargement of the solidarity fund to include a greater range of business types than those which have already been covered since July. He gave several examples of such businesses including a florist, a laundry business catering to the hotel trade and a bookshop in a tourist area. He said the scheme would also be enlarged for such businesses to cover those with up to 50 employees.

Forty people have tested positive for covid-19 at a hospital reception centre in Avignon. It's currently the largest cluster in the Vaucluse department.

The Regional Health Agency in Paris has told hospitals in the capital to go to the "reinforced" or Level 2 white plan in anticipation of an increase in admissions with covid-19. The level was brought into force during the height of the pandemic earlier this year but has been suspended since that time.

The body of a firefighter who went missing during last week's storm has been found. The man's body was discovered this morning in the river at Carros. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that his thoughts are with the firefighter's family and his colleagues who continue to be mobilized alongside local residents. Six people have now been confirmed as having lost their lives in the Alpes Maritimes as a result of the storm while a further six people are known to be missing with thirteen believed to be missing.

Local authorities on the Riviera are continuing to support those affected by the storm. Several thousand people are still without electricity because of storm damage and according to Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, 60% of the Haut-Pays has been without drinking water as a result of the storm. This morning a new water tank with a capacity of 5,000 litres was flown into Roquebillière by helicopter. 150 agents have been mobilized to restore access to drinking water, delivering water supplies by land if possible but also by helicopter.

A disaster reception platform and airbridge is in operation from Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, which has made its logistics services and its Police and Gendarmerie services available to help in the arrival of helicopters. As of yesterday, 34 tonnes of freight had been transported and about 580 people had been evacuated by air. Over 500 firefighters are engaged in field operations backed up by twelve canine units.  About 380 gendarmes are involved in road traffic management, the securing of isolated dwellings and raising concerns about possible missing persons. About 120 volunteers from civil security associations are also on the ground.

 

BUSINESS

EasyJet has said that it's expecting to make a pre-tax loss of between 815 and 845 million pounds for the full year. The airline said it carried only 38% of the passangers between July and September that it was expecting to carry before the pandemic. It said that it would operate 25% of its normal schedule in the current quarter.The company's chief executive Johan Lundgren said that aviation continues to face the most severe threat in its history and a package of "bespoke" measures to help aviation is urgently needed from the UK government.

Elsewhere in the aviation sector, Manchester Airports Group has announced up to 900 job losses. It said that passanger demand had fallen by over 90% between April and August. The company owns not only Manchester Airport but also London Stanstead and East Midlands airport. Job losses will occur at all three airports.

UK telecoms company TalkTalk has said that it's considering a takeover bid from investment firm Toscafund. TalkTalk said that its board had "agreed to progress the proposal further" and would consult advisers.

UK pub owner Greene King has said that it's not reopening 79 pubs and restaurants and is cutting up to 800 jobs. The figure includes the 11 restaurants which the company said last week would not reopen. It said about one third of the closures would be permanent but they hoped to be able to reopen the others in the future.


SPORT

Cycling... Filippo Ganna won stage five of the Giro d'Italia today. Joao Almeida is still in the lead.

Tennis... Iga Swiatek is through to the French Open final after beating Nadia Podoroska 6-2 6-1.

Rugby Union....Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has included six uncapped players in the squad for the final two rounds of the Six Nations tournament. John Cooney has been left out. Ireland are scheduled to play Italy on 24 October and France on 31 October.

Joe Schmidt has been appointed as director of rugby and high performance at World Rugby. The New Zealander was previously Ireland head coach.

Football... New recruit Thomas Partey has been included in Arsenal's Europa League squad but Mesut Ozil has been left out. The club's first Group B match is against Rapid Vienna on 22 October.

There are lots of European Championship qualifying games tonight with Northern Ireland away at Bosnia Herzegovina in Group B and the Republic of Ireland travelling to Slovakia. Scotland host Israel in Group C while England play Wales in a friendly.

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