French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that if the so-called British variant of the coronavirus increases "significantly" then a new lockdown would "probably become an absolute necessity". During a hearing held by the Senate Law Commission this afternoon the minister also stated that we are in a "race against time" and that is "a determining factor for the days, weeks and months to come".
President Macron has revealed measures aimed at improving the lives of students, the day after protests were held to draw attention to the problems being suffered by students as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Talking to students at a university in Paris earlier today, he said that a return to normal can't be expected in the second term but added that students should be able to return to university one day per week if they wish. He announced that students will be able to have two meals per day for one euro per meal and those who are concerned about their mental well being and who wish to consult a psychiatric professional will be able to do so more easily.
Meanwhile, health professionals have been holding demonstrations today to draw attention to their working conditions and demanding a salary incease. Demonstrations were held in several cities including Marseille and in Paris where several hundred protestors gathered in front of the health ministry.
Meteo France have issued several weather warnings for our area. There are yellow warnings in force from 9am to at least 4pm tomorrow (Friday) for heavy rain and flooding and storms in both the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. In addition, there's a yellow warning for those same times for icy conditions in the Alpes Maritimes. There's also a yellow warning in force for avalanches in the Alpes Maritimes. The Var is also under a yellow warning for high waves and coastal flooding from 11am to at least 4pm tomorrow. Full details of the warnings are available at www.meteofrance.com
Bad weather is affecting much of France with three coastal departments in the south west being placed on an orange alert for high winds, heavy rain and flooding. Parks in Paris have exceptionally closed at 5pm this evening because of high winds in the capital.
There was traffic disruption on the A8 at the height of this morning's rush hour after the motorway was closed in both directions because of a major gas leak near the Cagnes-sur-Mer railway station. The situation was brought under control and the motorway was fully reopened shortly before 10am. Meanwhile, a gas leak in the centre of Frejus this morning resulted in the area around the rue des Moulins being cordoned off and closed to traffic.
Renauld Muselier, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Council and Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi visited an innovative marine food business in Nice this morning. Inalve produces microalgae and transform them into premium ingredients for animal feed. The company is housed in the Metropole Nice Cote d'Azur business incubator and has received financial support from the South Region.
The Norwegian government has given a positive response to a proposed restructuring by airline Norwegian Air Shuttle. The carrier recently said it would stop operating long haul flights, would cut over 2,000 jobs and would substantially reduce its fleet. The Norwegian government said today that it would provide a loan to the airline subject to certain conditions.
New data released today by the UK Office for National Statistics shows the continuing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the UK economy. In the week to 14 January, debit and credit card purchases were 35% below their February 2020 average . Over a quarter of UK businesses currently trading said that turnover had decreased by more than 20% compared with what is normally expected for this time of year. According to consumer data company Springboard, in the week ending 17 January, overall retail footfall in the UK is at 33% when compared with the same week a year ago.
Seperately, research from the CBI showed that almost half of UK manufacturers are concerned that access to materials or components may limit their output over the quarter ahead. The figure is the highest since January 1975.
Cricket... Rajasthan Royals have released captain Steve Smith for the 2021 Indian Premier League. England players Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler are all retained. The tournament is still expected to be held between April and June.
Golf... Rory McIlroy has scored an eight-under-par 64 to lead the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He leads by just one from Tyrrell Hatton.
Athletics... Organisers of the London Marathon say that they are "very optimistic" 50,000 runners will be able to take part in this year's race. They said that it's hoped the vaccination programme will allow amateur runners to participate, in contrast to last year's race when only elite athletes ran on a specially adapted course. This year's marathon is scheduled to take place on 3 October.