French and Riviera News Friday 17th April 2020

Coronavirus - The latest figures released  by the French National Health agency have shown that 280 people have died in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var from the coronavirus. The deaths have occurred in both nursing homes and hospitals, since the start of the epidemic.

As reported on Wednesday there has been a slight drop in patients hospitalized and in intensive care, in both the Alpes Maritimes and the Var. 

In Monaco for a fourth consecutive day no cases of the virus were reported in the Principality on Thursday. 

Mayor of Nice wants testing for all - Meanwhile the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has sent a letter to France's  Minister of Health Olivier Véran, saying that the City of Nice wishes to acquire blood tests "for all of Nice" to detect Covid-19 .  Estrosi wishes to know if the tests which the city would like to acquire will be approved.  The mayor went on to say that "He is convinced that we will only succeed in the end of a lockdown, by putting in place a global strategy including, in particular, the compulsory wearing of a masks and a massive screening campaign,"

"After having decided to supply masks for all the people of Nice, we now want to put ourselves in a position to be operational at the start of the end of confinement. All of the suppliers for the tests are currently tell us that they are in the process of being approved by the High Authority of Health". 

Blood tests for nursing home staff, police, but also staff for waste collection and CCAS are in the pipeline but the mayor of Nice would like a screening to also be made available to the people of Nice.

Postal service in the region - The postal service in the region has announced that from Monday 20th April, the public group will open ten additional offices in the Alpes-Maritimes and that the distribution frequency will also be increased to a minimum of four days.
As of Monday. 

At the start of confinement, the number of post offices operating was restricted in order to protect employees. Today, 37 out of 108 offices are open in the Alpes-Maritimes to provide essential services." Namely: banking, withdrawal of proceedings (registered letters, parcels) and mail deliver"..

Pending the full return to normal of its activity, La Poste advises clients to check opening hours on the website which is updated daily to find the nearest contact point.

China's handling of the coronavirus - In an interview with the Financial Times the French President Emmanuel Macron, has questioned China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying things "happened that we don't know about" adding it was "naive" to suggest that China had dealt better with the crisis.

It follows a row sparked by an article on the Chinese embassy's website which led to the French foreign ministry summoning China's ambassador to "express disapproval". China dismissed the row as a "misunderstanding".

France has seen 141,000 cases of Covid-19 and nearly 18,000 deaths while China has recorded 83,400 infections and just over 3,300 deaths. China recently lifted the months-long lockdown in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, where the pandemic started. Other countries including the US and UK have also questioned China's transparency over the outbreak.

Macron's interview in the Financial Times - In the interview published in the Financial Times Macron also expresses his concern about the EU and the euro saying that both the union and the single currency will be threatened if the richer members, such as Germany and the Netherlands, do not show more solidarity with the pandemic-stricken nations of southern Europe.

Mr Macron warns that the failure to support the EU members hit hardest by the pandemic will help populists to victory in Italy, Spain and perhaps France and elsewhere.

For the French Head of State, the richer EU members have a special responsibility in the way they deal with this crisis. “We are at a moment of truth, which is to decide whether the European Union is a political project or just a market project. I think it’s a political project . . . We need financial transfers and solidarity". 

In response to the article this morning, journalists on French radio were questioning as to why? the French President had given such an interview to a British paper bearing in mind the UK's position with the EU.  

Police custody during confinement - The Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, has announced that a total of 1,733 people have been in police custody for cases of repeated violations of confinement since the measures were put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus.

According to other figures from the minister, 12.6 million checks have been carried out by the police and gendarmes since the start of confinement in mid-March resulting in 762,106 fines. 

Property owners to cancel rent for small businesses - The French government has asked property owners not to collect rents owed by very small businesses which have been forced to cease activity in a global effort to stem the Covid-19 epidemic.

The Minister of the economy Bruno le Maire announced on Thursday that he had met with all of the large real estate companies and asked them to allow for small businesses, with fewer than ten employees, which have been forced to close, to cancel three months rent. 

Many businesses deemed non-essential have been forced to close by the government since mid-March to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The Minister of the Economy also requests additional efforts from banks saying that he "intends to closely follow the banks 'refusal rates for loans, ensuring that it does not exceed 2-3% and that therefore the vast majority of businesses find a loan guaranteed by the state. "

In addition to these proposals, Bruno Le Maire also said he did not know when restaurants and bars could reopen. The Minister of Economy is working on a cancellation of charges for the restaurant sector and announces the creation of a site internet for restaurant owners to make proposals to prepare for the end of the confinement.The Minister of Economy, however, wants that "from May 11 hairdressers can reopen" subject to compliance with health measures and social distancing.

SNCF - As the SNCF prepares for post confinement they've announced that it will be mandatory for passengers to wear masks. Less than three months after the longest strike in its history, which cost the company nearly a billion euros, the SNCF is once again largely inactive, hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

Since the start of confinement, the railway company only runs about 3,000 trains on average per working day, "against a nominal program of 15,000 ",  "with traffic reduced  to 100,000 travelers, against 3.5 million normally. "

In an announcement from its CEO the company has said that rail traffic should resume gradually by the summer, after the end of confinement. With services running, new health precautions will be in place starting with the  wearing of masks, which he wants to be mandatory for all passengers.


Survey - Four days after Emmanuel Macron's televised speech, the idea of ​​"progressive deconfinement" from May 11th begins to gain ground in the minds of the French. In an Ipsos opinion survey  published on Thursday, April 16, eight out of ten respondents said they were in favour of banning groups of more than 100 people for several more months. Seven in ten agree that people at risk stay confined longer than others.

To continue to fight against the coronavirus epidemic, 60% approve the implementation of an application like StopCovid to track contacts of patients. Concerning the summer holidays, a little more than one in two French (57%) understand that "traffic on the territory is limited", by "prohibiting for example visit to another region".

On the other hand, those questioned are less in agreement with the wish of the Head of State to let public places remain closed such as cafes, restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas, theatres and museums after May 11 .  62% said they were against the measure.

Business

President Donald Trump has laid out new guidelines for U.S. states to emerge from a coronavirus shutdown in a staggered, three-stage approach meant to revive the U.S. economy even as the country continues to fight the pandemic.

Meanwhile less than two weeks after America approved an unprecedented $349bn in relief aimed at helping small firms through the coronavirus lockdowns the money has reportedly run out, due to being overwhelmed by demand.

The White House has requested an extra $250bn, but the relief has stalled as Democrats and Republicans in Congress fight over how to target the funds. Now millions of business owners across the US are wondering how they will continue.

In China its economy has shrunk for the first time since at least 1992 in the first quarter, as the coronavirus outbreak paralysed production and spending, raising pressure on authorities to do more to stop mounting job losses.

And - In the UK some 150 Romanian field labourers arrived at Stansted Airport on Thursday to pick crops on British farms.

Farmers have defended the transportation of workers from Romania to the UK amid the unemployment crisis caused by COVID-19.

Farmers have voiced fears that without the workforce, crops may be left in the ground to rot and be wasted as the nation moves to feed itself during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport 

Football -  Liverpool's players have held two video conferences with club executives about the possibility of deferring wages, according to reports. 

At an initial video conference last week, chiefs made a presentation to players which explained the financial cost the club will face if the Premier League  season cannot be completed and TV revenue is lost.

The Reds are six points away from securing their first title in 30 years should the campaign be completed. 

Chelsea will provide 78,000 meals to NHS staff and carers over the next six weeks as they look to support the most vulnerable through the coronavirus pandemic.

The club will pay for 13,000 meals a week which will be provided by their catering partner Levy and distributed daily to the five London hospitals under the umbrella of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

And - Uefa is working to plans that would see the Champions League final end the 2019-20 season on 29 August. European football's governing body plans to meet on 23rd April for more discussions about how to complete a campaign which has been disrupted by coronavirus.

It is likely one decision will be to agree that leagues could finish early, although only with Uefa's approval.

Tennis - The fate of this year's US Open will not be decided until June, but it is "highly unlikely" to be staged behind closed doors.

The US Tennis Association (USTA) has set up a medical advisory group to help them determine whether it will be safe to play the tournament.

Formula One - Formula 1's latest plan to get the 2020 season off the ground is to hold the Austrian Grand Prix as scheduled followed by two races at Silverstone. The first nine races have all been postponed as a result of the global coronavirus crisis and F1 is facing a moving target as it seeks a start date.

But the easing of lockdown restrictions in Austria might mean its race could go ahead on 3-5 July behind closed doors.

Weather

Mainly fine less cloud than forecast. Highs of 21 degrees in the Var feeling slightly cooler in the Alpes Maritimes with highs of 17. Moderate south easterly wind. This evening going down to 7 degrees in the Var and 10 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes. 

Outlook for the weekend becoming increasing cloudy with storms across the region forecast for Sunday and highs of 22 degrees. 

 

 

 

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