French and Riviera News Friday 12th February 2021

News

Man dies in paragliding accident - A paraglider has died in Gourdon. The accident occurred on Thursday afternoon shortly after 1pm. Witnesses alerted emergency services after the paraglider hit the rock face. The 60-year-old man from Nice died on the spot.

Ski lifts open in northern Italy – A region of northern Italy has announced the reopening from Monday February 15th of its alpine ski facilities. The Lombardy will be the first to authorize the opening of ski lifts in the country after weeks of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Classes close in Alpes Maritimes due to Covid - 20 classes have closed this week in schools in the Alpes Maritimes due to Covid. The closure concerns mainly nursery section classrooms which following the health protocol are requested to close as soon as a case of Covid is identified whereas three cases are needed to close primary and secondary classrooms.

Health situation in the Var - Meanwhile in the Var on Thursday 14 classes closed. Four of them are in nursery schools. Despite the health situation on a national level being described by the Health Minister during a press conference on Thursday as “stable”, admissions to intensive care as well as deaths are increasing in the Var department. In three days, the Regional Health Agency has announced 12 additional deaths in hospitals. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus has claimed 1,169 victims in the Var (797 in hospital, 372 in nursing homes). However, the incidence rate continues to decline. While it remains one of the highest in France, it stood at 305 on February 7th (latest data available), compared to 350 on January 25th.

Man takes new Ferrari for a spin and gets caught for speeding - A man in his forties from Villeneuve-Loubet has been arrested by police in the Isère, after being caught for speeding. The motorist was flashed at 153km an hour in a zone limited to 80. According to local reports the driver was taking the car which he had just purchased for a test drive.

Seborga launches Mimosa art challenge - The self-proclaimed principality of Seborga, just across the border in the heights of Bordighera in Italy, has launched its "Mimosa art challenge" inviting internet users from around the world until March 10th to share their creations using the canary-yellow flower. Flowering from January to March on the Côte d’Azur, the mimosa is a sign of warmer days ahead.

Monaco post office - The Monaco Condamine Post Office will be closed from midday today Friday 12th February until Saturday March 13th. The closure is due to renovation work which is to be carried out. All post will be collected at the Monte Carlo Post Office during the works, Palais de la Scala, located at 1, avenue Henry Dunant.

Health minister to visit Metz today due to “worrying” health situation - The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, is to visit Metz today to "evaluate the health situation in the region and hold discussions with elected representatives, the prefect and managers of the regional health agency”. The department is under close surveillance by the French government due to the large number of cases of South African and Brazilian variants of the coronavirus. Speaking on Thursday the minister said that the situation may “justify additional health measures. 300 cases of South African and Brazilian variants have been identified over the past four days.

France deploys police to Mayotte - France’s Interior Ministry has announced that France is to send more police to its overseas territory of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean, where there has been a wave of violent crimes and a worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic. In an announcement on Thursday the ministry said that 20 police officers will be deployed in Mayotte by March and an additional 13 gendarmes will be sent in the coming weeks through summer 2021. According to the Regional Health Agency, the incidence rate of Covid in Mayotte currently stands at 812 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Right to stay in France - Finally, officials from the Interior Ministry have stated that the calculation of the 90-day right to remain in France for British people staying in second homes and other visitors is to be counted from January 1st 2021.

Business

The US President Joe Biden has warned that China will “eat our lunch” if America doesn’t step up its infrastructure spending. Speaking at a meeting with a group of Senators in Washington on Thursday, Mr Biden said that China is investing billions of dollars dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and many other things and that the United States had to “step up”. During his election campaign, Mr Biden proposed spending 2 trillion dollars over four years to create jobs and invest in clean energy infrastructure. In its 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States only 13th in a broad measure of infrastructure quality, down from 5th place in 2002. The President has also voiced his concerns over what he described as China’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices as well as the country’s worrying crackdown in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

The value of Bitcoin topped 48,000 dollars several times on Thursday as more big players said that they would embrace the digital currency. The latest rise in the cryptocurrency came after the Bank of New York Mellon said that it is to launch a new digital currency unit and Mastercard said that it will soon allow merchants to accept payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Analysts say that market sentiment on Bitcoin continues to be bullish and that there are no fundamental factors that would drive the price down. Some analysts say that in the longer term, its realistic to think that Bitcoin is on a run towards 100,000 dollars by the end of the summer.

The dating app Bumble has soared to a market value of more than 13 billion dollars after listing its shares. Shares in the firm opened at 43 dollars each, valuing it at 8 billion dollars before rising to more than 76 dollars giving Bumble a value of 13 billion dollars. Bumble was launched by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 with backing from the Russian billionaire Andreey Andreev. She said that she was inspired to launch the site where “women make the first move” by her frustration with archaic gender norms controlling dating. Unlike most dating apps, only female users can make the first move with matched male users while in same sex matches, either person can send a message first.

Sport

Football - There were two 5th round FA Cup ties in England last night. Southampton were 2-0 winners at Wolves while Chelsea scraped past Barnsley of the Championship 1-0. In the quarter finals Bournemouth will play Southampton in a south coast derby while Chelsea host Sheffield United, Everton face Manchester City and Leicester play Manchester United. Ties to be played on the 20th of March.

In the English Premier League this weekend, on Saturday Leicester play Liverpool. Crystal Palace play Burnley. Manchester City host Spurs and Brighton play Aston Villa. On Sunday Southampton play Wolves. West Brom play Manchester United. Arsenal face Leeds and Everton play Fulham. West Ham play Sheffield United on Monday and Chelsea play Newcastle.

Formula 1 - The double world champion Fernando Alonso is reported to be conscious after being involved in a cycling accident in Switzerland. Reports say that the Spaniard was hit by a car near his h