Evening Update Wednesday 12 May 2021

French Government spokesperson Gabrial Attal has said that the incidence rate of the virus is now below 200 in many regions of France and there has been an especially strong decline in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region where the incidence rate "has fallen by more than a third this week". However, he added that circulation of the virus remains stronger in the Hauts-de-France, Normandy and Ile-de-France regions and pressure on French hospitals remains high. He said that five new countries will be added to the list of those requiring quarantine upon arrival in France and details would be released "in the coming hours".

Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot has confirmed that the annual Fete de la Musique will go ahead on 21 June. Speaking on French television this morning she said that her department is working with the Ministry of the Interior to establish health protocols for the day and a health pass wouldn't be required.

The French governernment has said that restaurants with a small teracce with just a few tables won't have to adhere to the 50% occupancy restriction when they re-open on 19 May. Instead, partitions will have to be put in place between tables.

Minister of Health Olivier Veran is on an offical visit to the Var this evening. He is visiting the Maison Garnier in Brignoles to launch the deployment of self-tests for people in precarious situations. He'll then go to the Jean-Marcel hospital centre.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi and PACA Region President Renaud Muselier have visited the Palais des Expositions in Nice to inspect what the mayor called "the state-of-the-art vaccination system" which is open to all adults registered on the Nice vaccination website. The mayor added that 15,000 injections are expected to be carried out this Ascension weekend.

The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has issued a reminder that the state departmental services will be exceptionally closed this Friday May 14, because of the Ascension weekend. The closure affects various services including the Prefecture of Nice and the sub-prefecture of Grasse, DDTM, DDPP and DDETS.

A court in Paris has ruled that Air France and Airbus should be referred to trial for involuntary manslaughter in connection with a crash almost twelve years ago. The Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on 1 June 2009, killing all 228 people on board. Both Air France and Airbus have said that they plan to appeal the ruling.


BUSINESS

New data released today by the UK Office for National Statistics shows that the UK economy contracted by 1.5% in the first quarter of this year. However, strong retail spending helped the economy grow by 2.1% in March. The ONS said that the economy is still 8.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic.

Travel Operator Tui has reported an 89% fall in revenue to €716m for the six months to March. Losses widened to €1.5bn. The comany said that there had been a sharp increase in demand for holidays this winter as more people defer their holidays. As at 2 May, total summer bookings were down 69% due to continued uncertainty over travel rules. It also said that bookings for holidays in Portugal had "skyrocketed" since it was placed on the UK's green travel list last Friday.

UK goods exports to Ireland fell by 13% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Estimates from the ONS also show that imports from Ireland were down by 4% in the same period. However, imports and exports both increased in March and the UK's trade with the wider EU also increased in March.


SPORT

Tennis... Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are both out of the Italian Open. Osaka lost to American Jessica Pegula 7-6  6-2 while Williams was beaten by Argentina's Nadia Podoroska 7-6  7-5.

Olympics... The United States track and field team has cancelled its pre-Olympic training in Japan because of coronavirus concerns.

Rugby Union...Harlequins player Mike Brown has been given a six-week ban for for treading on the head of Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor in a match last Sunday. The ban for the accidental incident was reduced from twelve to six weeks because of his unblemished disciplinary record and guilty plea.

Football...Liverpool and Netherlands player Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of Euro 2020. He's recovering from surgery after suffering knee ligament damage last October.

Still in the Netherlands, Ajax have melted down their Dutch title trophy to make 42,000 stars to give to season ticket holders. The gesture was made because fans haven't been able to attend matches this season because of the pandemic. The Royal Dutch Football Association has given Ajax a second trophy to put on display in place of the one they've melted down.

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