Evening Update Wednesday 16 February

France’s Minister of Health Olivier Veran has indicated that the obligation to wear a mask indoors could be lifted in most places within the next four weeks. He also said an easing of requirements for the Pass Sanitaire could also follow in mid-March. The Minister will be in Nice tomorrow to visit L'Archet hospital and deliver a speech about the current health situation.

The Nice Chamber of Commerce and Industry is being investigated, following a report claiming numerous malfunctions and lack of respect for procedures. The public prosecutor for Nice Xavier Bonhomme confirmed there are ongoing investigations. In particular, they are looking at the granting of a public road contract to two companies belonging to an elected member of the Chamber.

France is facing a drastic shortage of magistrates, with over 2,000 new judges required immediately. This is according to the Presidents of the Judicial Courts who have denounced an overwhelmed system and the resulting working conditions. They estimate 35% more judges are needed but that would take ten years to implement.

Three police officers are recovering after being attacked by a group of youths at St-Laurant-du-Var last night. The attack happened around 2am when the officers were accosted by three young males and two females. To deter the gang, the officers – who were in plain clothes - identified themselves officially as police, after which the youths started to throw stones at them. Reinforcements were called and three of the youths were arrested.

It’s been confirmed the annual Battle of Flowers will resume this year in the bay at Villefranche-sur-Mer. The battle, which has been re-enacted for 118 years was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. It will take place, this Friday lunchtime at the port in Villefranche, and while the event is free a current vaccination pass will be required to attend.

A new application called “Troov” can help people find lost items in Antibes. The app which is associated with the city council will increase the chances of finding lost objects in the city. The service is free and available via an application or simply from the website; troov.com

BUSINESS

The European Central Bank has hinted that its net asset purchases could end in the third quarter of this year. However, tweaks to the bank’s monetary policy could mean that rate hikes might not immediately follow. The Governor of France’s Central Bank, who is a prominent member or the ECB’s Governing Council, said that inflation and geopolitical risks, mean that the central bank should have a level of ‘optionality’ with its thinking when it meets in March.

The concept of a digital metaverse took another step forward today, as Disney appointed an executive to specifically lead their entertainment strategy on the new platform. Technology giants, including Facebook and Microsoft, are pouring billions of dollars into the metaverse, which is described as a 3D virtual world which will become the new social media.

The German government has introduced a fourth tax relief package today to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on Europe's largest economy. The package includes a batch of tax relief measures for businesses worth 11 billion euro between now and 2025.

SPORT

Football - The semi-final of the French Cup between Versailles and OGC Nice will be played at the Allianz Riviera on Tuesday March 1st, as the Parisian area club does not have an approved stadium. The match will be shown on the subscription television service Eurosport 2.

The hottest player in European Football Kylian Mbappe has refused to confirm any move to Real Madrid, after his extra-time goal against the Spanish team put Paris St Germain ahead, in the last 16 of the Champions League. Speaking after the match, the striker said he has not decided on his future yet, and for now he’s happy to play with his childhood local club Paris St-Germain, which he described as one of the best clubs in the world. The 23-year-old's contract is due to expire at the end of the season.

In Champions League tonight, Liverpool are in Italy to meet Inter Milan in the first leg of their last-16 tie. The Reds reached the finals in 2018 and 2019 but have not progressed past the quarter-finals in their two campaigns. This year, after a perfect group stage in which they won all six of their games to top the group, Jurgen Klopp’s men are firm favourites to win. The other big match tonight is RB Salzburg against Bayern Munich. Both games kick-off at 9pm.

Winter Olympics - The Monegasque bobsleigh team are celebrating today as Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain put on a terrific performance, finishing in sixth place, Monaco’s best-ever ranking at the Winter Olympics. Earlier, flag-bearer Arnaud Alessandria secured the highest finish of any Monégasque skier, with his 13th place in the Men’s combined race.

Reports are emerging that the anti-doping sample from Russian skater Kamila Valieva contained three drugs which can be used to treat heart conditions. Only one of the three is banned, which Valieva says got in through contamination from her grandfather’s medication. The IOC has confirmed that no medals will be awarded if Valieva finishes in the top three on Friday, but an asterisk will be applied against her name until a final decision on the case has been made.

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