Evening Update Wednesday 19 May 2021

French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that he hopes to be able to "turn the page on Covid-19" in November or December. Speaking on French television this moring, he said that "in the middle of the autumn or the approach of winter" we will be able to consider that the pandemic "is behind us" if there are no new variants. He said that people will have been sufficeintly vaccinated by that time.

President Macron and Prime Minster Jean Castex visited a cafe terrace before the defence council meeting this morning to mark the partial reopening of the restaurant sector. The President called the opportunity to have a coffee on a terrace "a little bit of rediscovered freedom" but said that people should "remain cautious". Earlier this evening Jean Castex and Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot attended the showing of a film at a re-opened cinema in Paris.

Locally, the Prefect of the Var has issued a decree removing the obligation to wear a mask in certain areas. Wearing a mask is no longer compulsory in the Var on beaches or lakes in areas of sand, gravel or pebbles in the immediate vicinity of the body of water, and in natural areas such as forest massifs. There is also no obligation to wear a mask for users of an individual means of transport, for people practicing physical and sporting activity and for people with disabilities who have a medical certificate justifying an exemption. However, the wearing a mask remains compulsory in several situations including on seafronts, walks and establishments open to the public.

The Prefect of the Var's decree relating to the prohibition of garage and flea markets has been repealed but a strict sanitary protocol must be observed. The Prefect has, however, issued a decree extending many other health measures until Wednesday, June 9. There's still a prohibition on deliveries by restaurants and bars between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. and a ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages on public roads with the exception of furnished terraces and in compliance with health protocols. The sale, carrying, transport and use of  fireworks is still prohibited.  

A large demonstration by police officers from throughout France has been held in Paris after the recent death of an officer in Avignon. According to police unions, 35,000 people were present at the demonstration in front of the National Assembly. Unions are demanding more severe penalties for those who attack officers. Interior minister Gerald Darmanin was present at the gathering but was heckled by some members of the crowd.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has announced the creation of a strategic tourism committee which he said will "position Nice at the forefront of global urban tourism". He said that the Metropole Nice Cote d'Azur has "great ambitions in terms of tourism strategy and upscaling of the hotel industry", adding that by 2025, 3,000 new hotel rooms will be created, 62% of which will be built or restructured in 4 or 5 star hotels. He said that the programme will yield €200 million in economic benefits and the creation of 800 direct jobs.

French Navy clearance divers working with local authorities have removed a wreck from the waters off La Seyne-sur-Mer this morning. The Maritime Prefecture said that a dozen wrecks have been removed from the coastal waters of our region in the past year with the aim of removing navigation dangers and avoiding pollution.


Jaguar Land Rover has reported a loss of £861 million for the full year. Pre-tax profit before exceptional charges was£662 million but the comany recorded £1.5 billion of exceptional charges in the fourth quarter related to its previously announced new global strategy. The company said that its business continued to recover following the onset of the pandemic. Retail sales in the fourth quarter were up 12.4% year-on-year.

Inflation in the UK more than doubled in April, with prices rising by 1.5% in the 12 months to April, up from 0.7% in March according to the Office for National Statistics. On a monthly basis, the CPI measure of inflation rose by 0.6% in April, following a 0.3% increase in March.  Clothing, and motor fuel prices made the largest upward contributions to the increase in April, which were partially offset by a large downward contribution from recreation and culture. The ONS said that household utility prices also increased.

Meanwhile, the ONS said that UK average house prices increased by 10.2% over the year to March which is the highest annual growth rate the UK has seen since August 2007. London continued to be the region with the lowest annual growth for the fourth consecutive month.


Motorsports... Lando Norris has signed a new extended contract with McLaren. The team did not reveal the length of the deal but said that both Norris and fellow driver Daniel Ricciardo would stay "beyond 2022".

Football... Scotland have named their squad for Euro 2020. Three uncapped players, Billy Gilmour, Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull, have been included, as have Liam Cooper, Greg Taylor and Kevin Nisbet. Scotland's first match in the tournament will be against the Czech Republic on 14 June, followed by England on 18 June and Croatia on the 22nd.

There are six games in the English Premier League tonight. Everton play Wolves. Newcastle play Sheffield United. Spurs play Aston Villa. Crystal Palace play Arsenal. It's Burnley against Liverpool and West Brom against West Ham.

Rugby Union... Former All Blacks player Kieran Crowley has been named as Italy's coach. He replaces Franco Smith who will become Italian rugby's head of high performance. Crowley has spent the past five seasons at Italian side Benneton.

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