Gatherings limited to six adults at Christmas - French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has clarified the instructions from the French government for end of year celebrations during a press conference on Thursday. The government recommends a limit of “six adults at the table, not including children”. Some have since criticized the clumsiness of the Prime Minister words pointing out that it would be clearer to say “six people not including children, as of course six adults suggests no children?”.
Jean Castex also announced the French government's vaccine rollout strategy by saying that "we have not yet come to the end of this virus" and the situation remains "fragile" although the health situation is improving. France will receive enough vaccines to vaccinate 100 million people. The Prime Minister said that there will be three stages of vaccination distribution with the elderly, particularly in nursing homes, be vaccinated first. One million priority people will be able to be vaccinated in January and February.
Phase two in March will involve the 14 million people who have risk factors and certain health professionals. The third and final phase will involve the remainder of the population and will run from the spring. The vaccine will be free of charge to everyone. He said that it is desirable that local GPs be at the heart of the vaccination process and that the roll out process must be subject to "security, transparency and proximity", which is why the strategy will be presented to parliament.
Italy bans travel between regions - Meanwhile Italy on Thursday has announced a ban on travel between its regions from 21st December to 6th January as part of strict coronavirus curbs over the Christmas holidays. A curfew from 10pm to 5am will be introduced with restaurants in some regions able to open until 6pm and only takeaways allowed in other parts of the country. As far as skiing is concerned ski slopes will remain closed until 7th January.
The announcement comes as Italy announced its highest daily Covid death toll since the pandemic started, with 993 fatalities. On top of the regional travel bans, people will not be allowed to leave their hometowns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
Covid-19 cluster identified at hospital in Menton - Several dozen patients, caregivers and doctors have tested positive for Covid-19 at a hospital in Menton. Nearly 80 people have been affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 contamination at La Palmosa hospital in Menton, announced the management of the establishment on Thursday. The establishment calls on patients to maintain their scheduled or emergency care. Visits have been suspended, except in exceptional cases. Management will give families "regular, daily information" as the unit has been closed. A cluster had been detected two weeks ago at La Fontone hospital in Antibes after a series of tests had also been carried out to detect patients positive for Covid-19.
Adriana Karembeu pays tribute to nurses - Former model Adriana Karembeu has paid tribute to the nurses of Monaco, Beausoleil and Menton by donating masks. Deeply touched by the current conditions for caregivers, Adriana said that the gesture is to celebrate the “Year of the Nurse”. 2020 had been declared by the World Health Organisation as the “Year of Nurses”. 2020 also marks the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and 200 years after her birth, the work and concerns of Nightingale are as relevant today as they ever were.
Nice Carnival postponed - The 2021 edition of the Nice Carnival has been postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic. The event, which is one of the main winter attractions in the city, was due to be held from 13 to 27 February.
Bathing ban in Antibes - A temporary bathing ban decree has been issued by the Municipality of Antibes Juan-les-Pins because of the planned shutdown of a wastewater facility. The bathing ban affects the Marineland, Fontonne Est, Fontonne Ouest and Fort Carré beaches until midnight on Sunday 6th December.
Black Friday - Black Friday which was officially supposed to start on Friday 27th November begins today following a decision from the French government to postpone the “day of bargains” in support of local businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. A large number of retailers will be organizing Black Friday for the entire weekend, from today through until Sunday.
Investigation into missing consoles for customers in Monaco - Meanwhile an investigation is currently underway concerning customers of the Fnac here in Monaco who have not yet received Sony’s Playstation 5 despite written proof that their consoles were delivered by FedEx to the Fnac Monaco on November 20th.
Horse racing - Horse racing kicks off today at the Côte d’Azur racecourse in Cagnes-sur-mer albeit behind closed doors due to Covid19. The winter races will be held without an audience at least until mid-January. The president says that while “it’s with great frustration he remains hopeful of being able to welcome the public from mid-January”.
Patrick Vieira no longer the coach of OGC Nice - OGC Nice has announced that Patrick Vieira is no longer their coach. Vieira arrived at the club in the summer of 2018 but following a catastrophic series of performances, with the club losing 3-1 to bottom-of-the-table side Dijon on Sunday evening there were doubts over his future with news of his departure being announced on Thursday. The 44-year-old ex-Arsenal player’s contract was set to expire in June 2021.
National day of mourning - Following the death of former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a national day of mourning on December 9th. In his address on Thursday evening Macron paid tribute to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, nicknamed VGE, who died on Wednesday as a result of Covid-19 at the age of 94. VGE was 48 in 1974 when he entered his seven-year term as France's Head of State.
EuroMillion Jackpot – Finally, feeling lucky? This evening’s EuroMillions will reach a record 200 million euros. Previously the highest amount up for grabs was 190 million euros, an amount won only four times (twice in the UK, once in Portugal, once in Spain). In France, the winning record is 170 million euros, it dates from 2012.
The European Union and Britain talked until late on Thursday to try to secure a Brexit trade deal, with an EU official saying an agreement was closer than ever but a UK government source warning chances for a breakthrough were receding. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is due to update Brussels today on the latest in the talks.
Meanwhile a new "business traveller" exemption from quarantine has been announced by the UK government. From 4am on Saturday, people in a number of categories will no longer have to self-isolate upon returning to England, even if they are travelling from a country not on the travel corridors list. The measure is set to apply to "High value" business travellers, certain performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists and recently signed elite sportspeople. The Transport Secretary said the move will allow "more travel to support the economy and jobs" and full guidance will be issued soon.
And also in the UK, a committee of MPs has said that the Bank of England should be trying to track down £50bn of "missing" UK currency. The cash is not used in transactions or held as savings, but may be overseas, tucked away in homes unreported or being used in the "shadow economy". The issue was first identified by the National Audit Office (NAO), which highlighted it in September. Now the Public Accounts Committee has said the Bank should "get a better handle" on the currency. However, the UK is not the only country to face this problem - and other major global currencies could well be more seriously affected.
In other business news Nasa is paying a company $1 (74p) to collect moon rocks after it was accepted as a winning bidder. On Thursday Lunar Outpost was awarded a contract to collect samples for the US space agency. It is one of four contracts awarded by Nasa under its low-cost lunar resource collection programme.
And Asian shares scaled a record high on Friday on the growing prospect of a large U.S. economic package, while hopes that vaccine rollouts will boost the global economy underpinned investor sentiment.
Football - Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has questioned the attitude of some of his players as Spurs drew 3-3 last night to progress to the Europa League knockout stages. And it was a ”very special night” for Arsenal in the Europa League with the return of fans to the home stadium and a 4-1 win against Rapid Vienna. It had been 271 days since Arsenal fans had last been at their home, for the victory against West Ham United on 7 March.
Meanwhile in the Premier league this weekend, this evening’s match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United has been postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases. In tomorrow’s Premier League action Burnley play Everton (kick off is at 1.30pm French time), Manchester City play Fulham (at 4pm French time), West Ham face Manchester United at 6.30pm and Chelsea host Leeds United in the last match on Saturday at 8pm. On Sunday West Brom play Crystal palace in the lunchtime game at 1pm, Sheffield United play Leicester City at 3.15 French time, Tottenham face Arsenal at 5.30pm and Liverpool play Wolverhampton, kick off is at 8.15 on Sunday evening. On Monday Brighton play Southampton at 9pm.
Formula One – George Russell says he is under “no pressure” as he prepares to race Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Hamilton has had to miss the race because he tested positive for coronavirus and Mercedes negotiated a temporary release for Russell from his Williams team.
Rugby Union – In the Autumn Nations Cup on Saturday Georgia play Fiji, Ireland play Scotland and Wales play Italy. The final on Sunday will see England play France with kick off at 3pm French time.
Showers are forecast for Nice and the Alpes Maritimes with a moderate breeze. In the Var gusty winds with light showers. Meteo France has issued several yellow weather warnings for both the Var and the Alpes Maritimes today with possible storms expected along the coast.
Today and tomorrow highs of 13 in Nice, Saint Paul de Vence Antibes and Saint Tropez. This evening going down to 5 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and 4 degrees in the Var.
The outlook for the weekend - Saturday cloudy clearing by Sunday with sunshine and highs of 12 degrees.
A new study has revealed that drinking a lot of alcohol makes it harder to concentrate, as alcohol blocks a chemical in the brain responsible for focusing our attention, Researchers set out to explain the process in the brain that causes alcohol to make someone less focused. While it is known that alcohol affects the brain's functions leading to people being unsteady on their feet when they walk, this is the first time that research has shown that boozing affects a person's attention span. The study found alcohol leads to a rise in calcium in the brain which then in turn affects brain function - including the ability to focus.