French and Riviera News Friday 20th November 2020

News

Amazon France postpones 'Black Friday' - The CEO of Amazon France has announced the postponement of Black Friday from November 27th to December 4th. Frédéric Duval made the announcement on TF1 on Thursday evening. In a statement Amazon France confirmed that "Today, like other large French distributors and taking into account the government's recommendation, we have decided to postpone Black Friday if it allows businesses to reopen before December 1st". In 2019, Black Friday generated 6 billion euros, 5 billion in stores and 1 billion on the Internet. 76% of purchases relate to clothing, 58% to high tech products and 28% to toys.

Bird Flu - A second case of bird flu has been detected in a pet store in the Paris region. The news comes just three days after the announcement by France’s Ministry of Agriculture of a first outbreak in Corsica. Specific measures to monitor and limit movement around this second outbreak have been put in place to prevent any spread. Investigations are underway to identify the origin of the contamination.

Organised crime - 35 arrests have been made as part of a crackdown on organised crime in the region. The investigation which has lasted more than a year saw 35 people taken into police custody this week in the Alpes Maritimes, the Var, Corsica and the south of Spain. The criminals, who mainly engaged in extortion, had set their sights on many establishments and companies in the Alpes Maritimes including restaurants, nightclubs and private beaches on the Côte d´Azur.

Radical Islam - As part of a broad clampdown on radical Islam, French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Muslim leaders to accept a "charter of republican values". France’s Head of State has given the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) a 15-day ultimatum to accept the charter. The CFCM has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation which could be withdrawn. It follows three suspected Islamist attacks in little more than a month.

Climate change - France’s top administrative court has given the French government a three-month deadline to show it is taking action to meet its commitments on global warming. The Council of State said that “while France has committed itself to reducing its emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, it has, in recent years, regularly exceeded the 'carbon budgets' it had set itself.” It also noted that President Emmanuel Macron's government had, in an April decree, at the height of the first wave of Covid-19 infections, deferred much of the reduction effort beyond 2020.

Covid-19 - The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, has spoken of the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic during a press conference. Veran said that during the first confinement, one in three young people had been affected by some form of psychological distress and that the mental health of people had deteriorated significantly between the end of September and the beginning of November.

The minister issued a reminder that a helpline exists by calling 0800 130 000. The helpline is currently receiving almost 20,000 calls per day and had received 2 million calls since April. He said that the virus has circulated less quickly since curfew and confinement measures were introduced. The health burden in hospitals has started to gradually reduce. He added that "we must not relax our efforts".

The Director-General for Health, Jerome Salomon was also present and said that the incidence rate of the virus over seven cumulative days has been falling but remains well above the target set by the President. The 'R' rate of the virus has been below 1 for several days and has been between 0.65 and 0.89, meaning the circulation of the virus has been slowing. He added that one person is entering intensive care with Covid-19 every four minutes.

Antibes – Meanwhile in the region 26 patients and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in an area of Antibes Hospital. The hospital said that 20 patients out of the 50 patients in the M1 Pavilion and at least 6 personnel had received positive tests. Entries to the pavilion have been frozen and a crisis unit established. The Antibes Juan-les-Pins Hospital Center said that it wishes to remind people that continuity of care must remain paramount and they have taken measures to contain the outbreak. They said that it's important to remember that the pavilion is distinct from the main building.

Power cuts - The French minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, has said that power cuts this winter can't be ruled out. However, she said that any such cuts would be "very short" and made if there was a "big cold wave". She said that power outages were the most extreme scenario and the government would first work with French industry in order to limit demand. Speaking on BFMTV the Minister said that the possible cuts are the result of normal maintainance work on nuclear power stations earlier this year being disrupted because of the lockdown. Meanwhile, electricity network operator RTE has said that it expects a calm month for supplies in December but "a difficult month" in February. However, it said that it had many options at its disposal including the purchase of electricity from other countries.

Storm Alex - Almost 1.5 million euros has now been collected to help the victims of Storm Alex, according to Alpes Maritimes Deputy Eric Ciotti. Donations can still be made via the department's website.

Virtual conference - A virtual conference on Artificial Intelligence is taking place this week on the Riviera. The 'Sophi.a Week' brings together the world's leading specialists in AI for 3 days. Normally the event is held at venues in Sophia Antipolis, but the 3rd edition of the event is being held online because of the pandemic.

Business

Global stock markets have been hit by a wave of uncertainty after the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for an end to coronavirus pandemic relief for struggling businesses in direct contradiction to the Federal Reserve. In a letter to the Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mr Mnuchin said that the 455 billion dollars allocated to the Treasury under the CARES act should be made available to Congress for reallocation. Although the programme has not been widely used, the Fed felt that its presence reassured investors and financial markets that credit would remain available to help businesses, local agencies and non profit making organisations through the pandemic. Mr Mnuchin’s comments have added to market anxiety about broader economic growth as data out on Thursday showed that the early and fast recovery is fading with more than 10 million people who had jobs in January still out of work. Investor sentiment has also been affected by figures that show Covid-19 hospitalisations in the United States have jumped by nearly 50 percent in the past two weeks.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the global economic recovery may be losing momentum as coronavirus infections surge again. The IMF says that more economic help is needed and warned countries about the dangers of withdrawing aid too soon. The IMF has predicted that the global economy will shrink by 4.4 percent this year in the worst annual plunge since the 1930s. The organisation is forecasting growth of 5.2 percent next year but says that recovery is likely to be “partial and uneven”.

The UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is preparing to announce a new squeeze on public sector pay as he prepares for next week’s Government Spending Review. Sources say that an announcement on pay restraint will form part of next Wednesday’s mini-budget as the Treasury starts a savings drive to tackle record levels of government borrowing incurred during the coronavirus crisis. Mr Sunak is expected to say that public sector earnings should move into line with the private sector where pay rates are coming under severe pressure as the UK battles through the deepest recession in history. Reports say that NHS staff will be exempt from the new measures in a bid to avoid an angry public backlash.

Sport

Tennis - Rafael Nadal is through to the last 4 of the ATP Finals in London. The 34-year-old Spaniard beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 4-6 6-2 at an empty O2 Arena and will now play Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals tomorrow. Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev will fight it out for the remaining semi-final place this afternoon with the winner to play Dominic Thiem.

Rugby Union - One of the highlights of the Autumn Nations Cup is coming up tomorrow with England against Ireland in Group A. The match kicks off at 4pm French time with Wales hosting Georgia at 6.15. On Sunday Scotland play rapidly improving France in Group B. There are two games in the Gallagher Premiership in England tonight. Harlequins play Exeter and Sale play Northampton.

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

Golf - Tiger Woods is to team up with his 11-year-old son at next month’s PNC Championship in Orlando. The event, which was formerly known as the Father and Son Challenge, sees PGA AND LPGA major winners joined by a family member to compete as a team. Charlie Woods won back-to-back Florida Golf junior championships last summer and Tiger says that “he’s starting to get into it”. The 15-time major winner has been spotted caddying for Charlie at various junior tournaments.

Weather

Clear skies with light to moderate variable winds. Top temperatures 17-18 degrees. Overnight lows of 10 degrees on the coast and 3 degrees inland with clear skies.

The weekend - Clear skies with highs of 13-15 degrees.

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