Evening Update Wednesday 9 December 2020

A fire broke out at the Lenval hospital in Nice this afternoon but was quickly brought under control by firefighters. The Lenval Foundation said that a mattress had caught fire in a room at the hospital but there had been no serious injuries. One child was taken to the emergency room suffering from slight effects of smoke inhalation. Three municipal police officers were also treated for smoke inhalation.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced details of a controversial "anti-seperatism" bill which the government presented to the Council of Ministers today. The Prime Minister has said that the bill aims to counter radical Islamism and President Macron has said that it aims to counter attempts to establish "a counter-society". The title of the bill refers to "consolidating the principles of the Republic". The bill contains a large range of measures including increased control over associations and places of worship, restrictions on home education and measures to control online hate speech.

President Macron chaired a meeting of the Defence Council this morning. Prime Minister Jean Castex is still scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow at 6pm at which he's expected to give details on whether the planned deconfinement scheduled for 15 December can go ahead as planned.

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has announced that 2 million euros has now been raised to help in reconstruction works after Storm Alex. In total, 528,787 euros in cash donations and just over 1.4 million euros of in-kind donations were collected from more than 500 donors. The mayor added that he'd like to thank the collective “Les Week-ends solidaires”, an initiative that brings together hundreds of volunteers in the valleys to help victims of the storm.

New figures released today show a large fall in the number of deaths on French roads in November compared to the same month last year. Surete Routiere said that 170 people lost their lives, a fall of 33.9%, a figure which the organization said was strongly impacted by the imposition of a second confinement. The number of cyclists and motorcyclists who died remained similar this November compared to last November.

Flags on many public buildings across France have been flying at half-mast today in tribute to former French President Valery Giscard d'Estang who died a week ago. A minutes silence was held at many institutions at midday today. However, there has been no national tribute ceremony, at the late president's own request.

The French Catholic Church has suffered a large fall in income because of the pandemic. In its annual financial report presented today, the church said that there had been a net loss estimated at 90 million euros caused by the full or partial closure of places of worship as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

A serious fire broke out last night in the port of  Saint-Aygulf in the Var. About a dozen boats were destroyed or damaged in the blaze. Reports say that a specialised chemical risk team has been on site to contain any pollution.

Traffic was seriously disrupted in Garéoult in the Var during this morning's rush hour because of an accident. Firefighters issued a call for motorists to avoid the area on the route de Brignoles.

Some of the famous blue chairs have returned to the seafront in Nice. The chairs were completely removed last month in the fight against the virus and a reduced number are now back in place with every other seat being cordoned off for social distancing.

 

BUSINESS

The UK government has said that it plans to drop tariffs against the United States in a long running dispute over subsidies for aerospace firms. In November the EU imposed duties of up to 25% on $4bn of US goods in retaliation for state aid given to planemaker Boeing. UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the UK wanted to find compromise and "as an independent trading nation once again, we finally have the ability to shape these tariffs."

Boeing 737 Max commercial flights are resuming today for the first time since the plane was grounded in March 2019. Brazilian airline Gol says it will resume commercial flights with the aircraft and that 140 of its pilots have undergone training on the overhauled plane in the US. So far, only the US and Brazil have recertified the plane.

In the UK, Tesco says that it is stockpiling non-fresh food ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit. The supermarket's chairman John Allan warned that leaving the bloc without an agreement could mean shoppers face shortages and a 3-5% rise in prices in January.

 

SPORT

Cricket... England have confirmed that they'll be travelling to Sri Lanka in January for a two-Test series. The tour was originally due to take place in March but was cut short during the warm-up games because of the pandemic.

It's also been announced today that South Africa will tour Pakistan for the first time in 13 years in January and February next year.

Australia's David Warner has been ruled out of the first Test against India. Warner was injured during a one-day international on 29 November. However, Australia say he could return for the second Test which gets underway on 26 December.

Rugby Union... Two players have received suspensions from the RFU for foul play in two separate incidents. Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen was sent off in the match against Gloucester after replays showed he elbowed another player in the face. Exeter scrum-half Stuart Townsend was cited following an incident at the team's game against Leicester.

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