French and Riviera News Friday 15th January 2021

News 

Man shot dead in Saint-Laurent-du Var - A man has been shot dead in Saint Laurent du Var. The shooting broke out on Thursday evening behind the municipal swimming pool in the Saint Joseph district. According to local reports the individual who was in his car at the time, was shot several times. An investigation has been opened to determine the reason behind the shooting.  

Bomb threats - Bomb threats have reportedly been made against two schools in the Var. Reports say that the threats were made by telephone on Thursday afternoon to the College Albrecht in Sainte Maxime and the Lycee Saint-Exupery in Saint-Raphael. Police were on the scene and all students were taken to a place of safety.

Silvio Berlusconi hospitalized in Monaco - The former head of the Italian government Silvio Berlusconi has been urgently admitted to hospital in Monaco after suffering heart problems. The 84-year-old media tycoon is at the Cardiothoracic Hospital in Monaco for tests.' His spokesman said, “he is expected to return home within a few days”.

Shuttle service - A maritime shuttle service based in the port of Cap d’Ail for employees working in the Principality is moving forward. The project which has long been in the pipeline looks likely to come to light and plans to reduce traffic on the roads coming into the Principality during rush hour. Figures for January show that on average 16,233 vehicles come into Monaco on a daily basis that’s 3,000 more than the previous year.

Solidarity restaurant for students - A solidarity restaurant for students is to soon open its doors in Nice. A first in France and under the leadership and coordination of the city of Nice the restaurant will be exclusively reserved for students.

Covid-19 - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that the health crisis in France is “under control” but remains “fragile”. Accompanied by six ministers during Thursday’s press conference the Prime Minister expressed his concern about the “emergence of a new, more contagious strain” announcing new health measures in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

Castex confirmed that the current 6pm curfew in some 25 departments of France will be extended from tomorrow Saturday 16th January, across France “for at least 15 days”. He defended this decision saying that “in the 15 departments where it was first put in place on January 2nd, the number of cases was two or three times lower than in other departments”.

Border controls - The Prime Minister confirmed tighter border controls from Monday the 18th, with all those wishing to travel to France from a country outside of the European Union having to provide a negative Covid test ahead of departure. They will also have to isolate themselves for seven days upon their arrival, repeating a test at the end of this period.

Schools - For schools, Castex said that “it was essential that schools remained open” adding that “the health protocol will be stepped up, testing amongst pupils will continue and be increased and indoor sports activities will be suspended until further notice”. For first year university students, half groups will be able to resume from January 25th.

Vaccination campaign - Concerning the vaccination campaign, Castex announced that vaccination in France will be extended to over 75s on Monday as well as those of all ages with chronic illnesses. To make an appointment you can go to the website www.sante.fr or call 0800 009 110.

Economy - France’s Finance Minister Bruno le Maire announced that the repayment of the government guaranteed loans will be deferred for one year. Fixed costs of businesses closed or experiencing a “limitation of their activity” due to the pandemic with a monthly turnover of more than one million euros will be covered by up to 70%. This exceptional aid will be added to the solidarity fund. For smaller companies the government will work with MPs to define the best ways to lower the one million euro threshold which can be penalizing for a number of very specific small structures. Bruno le Marie also promised specific aid for wine growers “unfairly” affected by US sanctions linked to Airbus.

The Prime Minister warned that a new lockdown was not ruled out and would be introduced “without delay” in the event of a “severe decline of the health situation” stressing that the current situation does not require such a measure.

Travel to the UK - Meanwhile the UK government has said that pre-departure Covid-19 testing will now be required for everyone travelling to England from 04:00 GMT on Monday. The rules had been due to come into force today. Those arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK nationals, will have to take a test within 72 hours before leaving the country they are in. Anyone arriving from places not on the UK's travel corridor list must still self-isolate for 10 days. France currently isn't on the UK's travel corridor list.

Business

A report by Reuters says that while investors have broadly welcomed President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed 1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package, there are concerns about how the United States will pay for it. The proposed stimulus package had been widely anticipated by Wall Street but while a big rise in equities has helped to lift the S&P 500 by 3 percent in the week since Democrats took control of the Senate, the moves have been mirrored by a slide in treasuries due in part to expectations that the new administration will need to fund the spending with more debt insurance. Yields on 10 year notes are at their highest level since March and are pushing borrowing costs throughout the economy higher. Reuters says that high stock valuations are already concerning some investors who are worrying that earnings will have to be exceptionally strong in the coming year to justify the levels. Mr Biden’s plans to stimulate the economy come at a time of rising coronavirus cases which are forcing firms and investors to pare back estimates on how soon the pandemic will end. Fresh unemployment claims rose to 965,000 last week, their highest level since August and well above the forecast 795,000.

Germany’s economy contracted by 5 percent last year according to official figures as the coronavirus pandemic battered production. The German National Statistics Office says that most sectors of the economy were “markedly affected” by the pandemic. However, the contraction was less pronounced than the 2009 downturn caused by the global financial crisis and some economists had expected it to be even worse. There were large falls in Germany in household spending last year which was down by 6 percent while investment in machinery and equipment plunged by 12 and a half percent. There was also a large increase in government spending as the state sought to limit the extent of the economic damage. Many other developed economies including France, the UK, Italy and Spain are set to report significantly deeper contractions for 2020 when figures are published in the coming weeks.

The UK Business Secretary has denied reports that his department is planning to dilute workers’ rights. A report in the Financial Times says that some protections brought in under EU law such as the 48 hour working week, could be scrapped. Kwasi Kwarteng has dismissed the report and says that he wants to “protect and enhance” workers rights, and not “row back on them”. The opposition Labour Party said that the FT report suggested that the Conservative government is “out of step” with public sentiment on workplace rules. The Shadow Business Secretary Ed Milliband said that the proposals are “not about cutting red tape but ripping up vital rights for workers” and that they should not even be up for discussion.

Sport

Cricket - Rain has delayed play on day 2 of the 1st Test between Sri Lanka and England in Galle. On day 1 England bowled Sri Lanka out for 135 and had reached 127-2 at stumps. Conditions today are overcast with intermittent drizzle and the covers are still on.

It’s day 1 of the 4th and deciding Test between Australia and India in Brisbane amid some bad blood between the two sides following allegations of racism, general sledging and cheating which surfaced in the third Test in Sydney. Australia won the toss and decided to bat. At tea, they’d reached 154-3. The series is tied at 1-1.

Football - There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Arsenal and Crystal Palace drew 0-0.

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

Formula 1 - Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has tested positive for coronavirus. The 23-year-old said that he is feeling ok, has mild symptoms and is isolating at his home in Monaco. Earlier this month, McLaren’s Lando Norris tested positive for Covid-19 while on holiday in Dubai.

Rugby Union - The Wales back Liam Williams will miss the start of the 6 Nations after being handed a three match ban for the red card that he received during Scarlets’ Pro 14 defeat by Cardiff Blues. Williams was sent off for a dangerous entry into a ruck and will now miss the match between Wales and Ireland on February the 7th.

The final two rounds of European pool matches that were postponed earlier this week will not be rearranged. The games had been set to take place over the next two weekends but the competitions will now go straight to a knockout phase in April. The European Cup organisers will announce the revamped structure of the competitions next week.

Tennis - Andy Murray may miss the Australian Open after contracting coronavirus. The former world number one had been set to fly out to Melbourne but is now isolating at his London home. The Australian Open starts on the 8th February and all players will have to quarantine for two weeks before the tournament gets underway. Murray is still hopeful that he can make the tournament where he’s been given a wild card entry.

Weather

Rain dying away then partially cloudy with light to moderate westerly winds. Top temperature 12 degrees. Overnight lows of 7 degrees on the coast and 5 degrees inland with clear skies.

The weekend - Partially cloudy tomorrow with a high of 10. Fair on Sunday with a high of 12 degrees.

And finally 

Stefan Thomas has said he long ago "made peace" with the reality he may never gain access to his $22 million bitcoin fortune. The computer programmer is locked out of a digital wallet containing an estimated $220 million worth of Bitcoin with only two chances left to figure out his password before its contents are encrypted and placed out of reach forever. German-born Thomas, who now lives in San Francisco, told the New York Times that he was gifted 7,002 Bitcoins by an early cryptocurrency fanatic in 2011 after creating a 'What is Bitcoin?' explainer video. Yet the same year, he lost his password - known as a digital key - to the online wallet and despite trying all his regular combinations, he has remained locked out as the price of the cryptocurrency has soared in the past month. However he is not the only one who has lost his money in this way, according to reports of “the existing 18.5 million bitcoin, around 20 percent, currently worth around 140 billion dollars, seem to be in lost or stranded wallets”.

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