Evening Update Wednesday 29 April 2020

The overwhelming majority of people approve of the deconfinement measures announced by Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe yesterday, according to a new survey. The exception is the return to school. For example, the maintainence of teleworking was approved of by 93% of respondents, the wearing of facemasks on public transport was supported by 91% and approval of  the cancellation of sporting and cultural events is at 82%. However, only 49% of respondents approved of the plans to reopen schools. The opinion poll was published today by French financial newspaper Les Echos.

The French government has said that protective masks will be sold at a price of 2 to 3 euros. An agreement has been signed which will result in masks being sold through certain large retailers next week and at all large retailers from May 11. In addition, large supermarkets will be selling paper masks at cost, according to the Secretary of State for the Economy. Five million reusable masks per week will also be made available for the most vulnerable.

The French Minister of Labour, Muriel Penicaud, has said that 11.3 million people in France are now on partial unemployment. Meanwhile, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has called upon people to return to work after the deconfinement gets underway on 11 May. He said that returning to work activities is "essential for the French nation." The French government is estimating that GDP will fall by about 8% this year because of the virus outbreak.

The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, has said that the number of deaths from coronavirus which have ocurred at home will be made available sometime in June. Addressing the National Assembly today, he said that it was more complicated to establish the number of deaths at home compared to hospitals and nursing homes because it required data to be collected from death certificates, both electronic and non-electronic.

A new update on the condition of the crew of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has been given by the Armed Force Ministry today. Five crew members remain in hospital with Covid-19. 943 personnel from the carrier and its "strike group" are cured. The Ministry also stated that disinfection of the ship has been completed.

Another major event in the south of France has been cancelled. The International Photography Meeting in Arles in the Bouches-du-Rhône, which draws visitors from around the world each summer, has been called off for this year because of the pandemic. The festival would have celebrated its 51st edition this year.

 

BUSINESS

New figures released this afternoon show that the US economy contracted at an annualised rate of 4.8%. It's the first quarterly fall since 2014 but doesn't represent the full scale of economic contraction as many restrictions didn't begin until March.

The French government has increased controls on non-EU investments in some French businesses. Restrictions will begin at a holding of 10%, instead of the previous 25%, and will apply to holdings in large companies in strategic sectors.

Peter Altmaier, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy has said that the country's GDP is expected to fall by 6.3% this year before rebounding by 5.2% next year. The estimates are based on what he referred to as a gradual and moderate lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

The EU has released it's latest survey of confidence and economic sentiment for April. The EU said that there had been an exceptionally strong fall in confidence. In France, the sentiment indicator fell by 16.3%, which was a better reading than in the Netherlands, where it fell by 32.6% and Spain, where the fall was 26%.

Barclays has announced that it's made a 2.1 billion pound provision for bad loans in the first quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic. Net profit fell by 42% in the period. However, the bank said that trading income had risen by 77% and group revenue rose by 20 per cent to 6.3 billion pounds.

Oil and gas operator EnQuest has said that it expects to make 530 redundancies in its North Sea operations. The company said that a 6 week consultation period with employees is beginning. Unions have called for the UK government to intervene to protect employment in the oil and gas sector.

 

SPORT

Golf... The LPGA has announced that it's aiming to restart the Tour on 15-18 July at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational tournament in Michigan. However, the Women's PGA Championship has been postponed to October.

Football... In Spain, La Liga is aiming for clubs to return to training as soon as possible after being given the go ahead by the Spanish government. Reports say that the league may begin again in mid-June behind closed doors. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, it's been announced that the Swiss Super League will probably resume behind closed doors on 8 June, subject to safety measures being put in place and there being no worsening of the virus outbreak.

Derby County have thanked team captain Wayne Rooney for his role in agreeing a wage deferral by players. In a statement, the club also thanked Curtis Davies, the Professional Footballers Association's representative at the club.

Athletics... UK Athletics has announced that the suspension of athletics competitions in the UK will continue until at least 30 June.

Badminton... The Thomas and Uber Cup team championships have been postponed. The tournment was originally due to take place in Denmark in May but was first postponed by 3 months and will now take place from 3-11 October.

Cycling... The Vuelta a Espana has abandoned plans to stage this year's departure in the Netherlands. The cycling calendar is currently being re-arranged because of the pandemic. The race was due to start in Utrecht.

Sailing... One of the best known sailing events, the Transat, has been cancelled this year. The race was originally due to start in Brest in north-west France in May. It was postponed because of the pandemic, but the race has now been called off. The next Transat is expected to take place in 2024.

American Football... Jameis Winston  has signed a new contract with the New Orleans Saints. The new deal is for one year. Winston was recently replaced by Tom Brady at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

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