Evening Update Wednesday 22 September 2021

The French government has announced plans to remove the obligation for children to wear masks in schools  in certain departments. Spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that from 4 October the wearing of a mask will be optional for children in schools in departments where the incidence rate of the virus is less than 50 per 100,000 people. According to the government's Covid-19 dashboard, as of 18 September the incidence rate in the Alpes-Maritimes was 107.4 and in the Var was 92. Gabrial Attal confirmed that the health pass is being maintained in all departments. Speaking after the health defence council meeting this morning, he said that the improvement in the health situation is continuing, with the number of daily cases detected falling by 30% in one week and the number of hospitalized patients decreasing by 11%.

France's ambassador to the United States is to return to Washington next week after a telephone call between President Macron and President Biden regarding the dispute over the cancellation of a submarine contract by Australia. Gabriel Attal said that the discussion was to clarify the conditions under which the announcement was made and "clarify the conditions for an American re-engagement in an allied relationship". The two leaders agreed this afternoon to meet at the end of October.

The persons who leaked President Macron's health pass details on social media have been identified, according to the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie. It said that the health professionals who had access to the President's details in violation of the code of ethics had been identified.

Amazon France has announced the launch of a campaign to recruit 12,000 temporary employees to help process orders for the end-of-year holiday season. The positions are in the French logistics network of Amazon, which includes distribution centres, sorting centres and local delivery agencies. The announcement comes as the company inaugurates its new distribution centre in Metz in north-east France.

The French government has asked the SNCF to drastically scale down its plans for the redevelopment of the Gare du Nord railway station in Paris. Under previous plans the station was to undergo development which would have tripled its size in anticipation of increased traffic during the 2024 Olympic Games and the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said today that costs for the project had ballooned to 1.5 billion euros and the government was now asking the SNCF to put in place a project costing about 50 million euros.

A reminder that major works are underway on railway infrastructure in our region, meaning that there are changes to train services between Nice and Ventimiglia in both directions right through until April 2 next year. The works involve reinforcement of the Villefranche-sur-Mer tunnel and renewal of the track in the Cimiez tunnel. Train traffic can only be carried on one track between Nice and Eze-sur-Mer throughout the work period and timetables are being modified accordingly. You can find out more information and timetables on the SNCF ASSISTANT app or on the SNCF TER SUD website  https://www.ter.sncf.com/sud-provence-alpes-cote-d-azur/horaires/les-grands-chantiers/travaux-ca-2021



The UK government has said that it will meet the full operating costs of a key plant which produces carbon dioxide. CF Industries had halted two of its fertiliser factories, which produce carbon dioxide as a by-product, because of increasing gas prices. The government will meet the full operating costs to run the plant at Billingham on Teeside for three weeks. There have been concerns in the UK recently that a shortage of CO2 will affect many industries including food production and the civil nuclear industry.

UK food retailer Pret a Manger has said that it has received a £100m investment from Luxembourg based JAB Holdings and founder Sinclair Beecham to accelerate its expansion plans. The company said that it aims to hire 3,000 staff by the end of next year after cutting the same number of jobs last year. It also plans to open 200 additional stores in the UK over the next two years and to expand into five overseas markets by the end of 2023.



Football... Championship club Derby County have entered administration and face a deduction of 12 points by the English Football League, sending them to the bottom of the table. The owner of the club, Mel Morris, said that the pandemic had cost them about £20m in lost revenue.

Cricket... Today's Indian Premier League fixture between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals in Dubai is going ahead despite one of the Sunrisers players testing positive for Covid-19. The remaining players and staff have returned negative tests. The IPL resumed in the UAE at the weekend after the tournament was postponed from May.

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