Evening Update Wednesday 5 January 2022

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said that the government is going to expand the list of "compelling reasons", "in particular professional" for travel between France and the UK. He said that the restrictions between the two countries could also be eased further next week, saying that the Omicron variant is now affecting both countries in a similar way. Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting this morning, he said that Covid-19 cases in France had reached what he called "stratospheric levels" in several regions including the Ile-de-France and Corsica but he said that data is showing the Omicron variant is "two to three times less severe" than the Delta variant. However, he said that what he called the "supersonic" rise in infections "will continue over the next few days, if not the next few weeks". He also announced that eight million self-tests will be distributed in pharmacies next week.

Debates in the French National Assembly have resumed this afternoon on proposed legislation to convert the health pass into a vaccine pass. Debates were suspended again last night after opposition members protested at President Macron's colourful use of language to describe his attitude to the unvaccinated in an interview last night.

The French government has introduced a state of emergency in the overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy because of the health situation. Meanwhile, Health Minister Olivier Veran has denounced an attack on the director of a hospital in Guadeloupe by anti compulsory vaccination protestors, saying that "an ideology will never justify a group of individuals kidnapping and striking a hospital director".

President Macron is scheduled to visit our region next Monday, 10 January. He will first visit Nice where he will lay the foundation stone for a modern new police complex before moving on to the Roya Valley. The president last visited the valley just after Storm Alex devastated the area in October 2020.

A group of Municipal police officers in Nice have successfully completed their remote drone pilot training. Nice deputy mayor Anthony Borre said that the training ensures that the city of Nice has qualified police officers in its ranks, ready to use such new technologies, in particular in the context of major crises.

Meteo France have a yellow weather warning for storms in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var until 1am tomorrow, Thursday. There is also a risk of hail this evening.


BUSINESS

UK travel industry groups have called for all remaining Covid restrictions on travellers to be removed in the latest UK government review of Covid measures. In a joint statement Manchester Airports Group and Airlines UK said that research they had commissioned has shown that the removal of all testing requirements on international travel this month would not impact the spread of Omicron in the UK. Manchester Airports Group CEO Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade said that travel restrictions "come at huge cost to the travel industry, and to the UK economy as a whole, placing jobs at risk and holding back the recovery of one of our most important sectors".

A widely watched survey of purchasing managers in the Eurozone fell to a 9-month low in December, driven by a weakening service sector as Covid cases rose amid the Omicron variant. IHS Markit said that growth fell across the region, especially in Germany where output stalled. However, French service businesses saw a strong end to 2021, despite a weakening of new order growth amid a rise in Covid cases.

 

SPORT

Football... Arsenal's Carabao Cup semi-final match against Liverpool tomorrow has been postponed because of a severe outbreak of Covid-19 at Liverpool. The first leg has now been rescheduled to 13 January at Anfield and the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on 20 January.

Cricket... On the first day of the Fourth Ashes Test in  Melbourne Australia decided to bat and closed on 126-3 under grey skies with just 46.5 overs being possible. The start was delayed by half an hour and there were two interruptions in the morning session and a further delay either side of tea.

Bangladesh have beaten New Zealand for the first time ever in a Test with an eight-wicket win in the first Test. New Zealand started day five on 147-5 but lost five wickets for just 22 runs.

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