Evening Update Wednesday 29 December 2021

French Minister of Health Olivier Veran has said that there is a "tidal wave" of coronavirus numbers in recent days, with 208,000 cases recorded in the past 24 hours. Speaking before a committee of the French National Assembly this afternoon he said that ten per cent of people in France can be considered as contact cases. He said that "we have never experienced such a situation" and positive cases "are everywhere" with "surely at a million infected" people in France plus asymptomatic people. He described the hospital situation as "worrying" and said that 70% of people in intensive care are unvaccinated. He added that "we are facing two enemies - Delta and Omicron" and that the Delta variant is decreasing in some regions and increasing in others. The committee of the National Assembly before which Olivier Veran was speaking is examining the government's proposed vaccination pass to replace the current health pass. The measure is scheduled to be debated in the National Assembly early next week followed by the Senate.

Nightclubs in France will remain closed for three additional weeks until January 24 inclusive. The venues had closed on December 10 for a period of four weeks because of the health situation. When the restrictions were announced in early December President Macron assured nightclub businesses that they would be compensated for having to close.

Monaco's Minister of State H.E. Monsieur Pierre Dartout and several members of his family have tested positive for Covid19 after returning from a holiday in the Alps. The government said that he is in confinement in accordance with the protocol in force in the Principality, and he and his family are doing well. The schedule of the Minister of State will be adjusted so that he can pursue his activities at a distance.

The Monaco government has said that because of health measures the Christmas village and the ice rink will close on New Year's Eve at 9:30 p.m. and reopen on New Year's Day from 11 a.m. There will be no New Year's Eve fireworks display this year.

The Prefect of Reunion has announced a three week curfew from this Saturday evening. The curfew will be in force on the French island in the Indian Ocean from 9pm to 5am daily. Various other measures were also announced including a ban on many events in public spaces and limits on the number of people in establishments open to the public.

A woman has been taken into police custody after she threatened to blow up her house in Tourves in the Var earlier today. She was with her child in the house at the time. Police negotiators were brought in and the situation ended peacefully.

As from January 1 FrenchNational Police officers will be able to travel by train free of charge. The measure, first announced by President Macron earlier this year as part of the Beauvau de la Securite, will affect 115,000 active National Police officers. The officers will be required to report their presence on the train to the chef de bord and will need to be armed.


BUSINESS

A new European battery gigafactory has produced its first cell. Northvolt has assembled its first lithium-ion battery cell at its gigafactory in northern Sweden. The company said that the cell is the first to have been fully designed, developed and assembled at a gigafactory by a homegrown European battery company. Commissioning and upscaling of the factory will continue through into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made.

2022 is set to be the ‘year of the squeeze’ in the UK as wages stall and families face a reduction in income from next April as energy bills and taxes rise, according to research from think tank the Resolution Foundation. It said that real wages are set to be no higher next Christmas than this Christmas, and families face a typical income hit of around £1,200 a year from April as a result of tax rises and increased energy bills.

Air travel to and from the UK fell by 71% in 2021 compared to pre-pandmic 2019 levels according to a report by aviation analytics firm Cirium. It also said that domestic UK flights were down by almost 60%.


SPORT

Tennis....  Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from Serbia's ATP Cup team. The ATP tournament is set to take place in Australia from 1 to 9 January. It's not yet known if the world number one will compete in the Australian Open later in the month. All players and staff at the Open must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption but Djokovic hasn't spoken publicly about his vaccination status.

Football... Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time. He first tested positive in March 2020. The new test result means that he will miss the match against Manchester City on New Year's Day.

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