French and Riviera News Friday 8th January 2021

News

Health situation in France - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that all public venues currently closed would remain so until at least 20th January. He also said the border with Britain will remain closed until further notice in a bid to combat the new strain of Covid-19. Two clusters of the new strain have been detected in France. The clusters were located in Brittany and in the Paris region.

Speaking on Thursday evening as expected, Castex announced that all facilities currently closed in France will remain closed and that the situation for theatres, gyms and ski stations will be reviewed on 20th January adding that “bars and restaurants cannot expect to open before mid-February”. The French government has decided, however, to keep schools open for the foreseeable future.

Health minister Olivier Véran said that the vaccine campaign had been simplified with the aim of having a million people vaccinated by the end of January. He announced that from 18th January those over 75 in France will be invited to get vaccinated, as will handicapped citizens living in special care centers. According to the latest figures, just over 15,000 cases of Covid are currently being detected daily in France and 25,000 people are currently in hospital with the virus.

Monaco - 40 new cases of Covid have been identified in the Principality. The total number of residents affected, to date, stands at 1,018. Twenty-six people are in hospital and 149 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.  

Needles too short - Meanwhile doctors in Nice and Cannes have said that after receiving doses of the vaccine against Covid, several errors have been noted, namely the fact that the needles are too short, and the protocol is incomplete. Head of the Pharmacy division Rémy Collomp confirmed on French radio on Thursday that the syringes delivered by Public Health France are indeed "too short" to administer the vaccine and several hospitals supporting GHT (regional hospital group), such as the Nice University Hospital, have been delivered with this type of syringe.

Vaccination campaign Nice - Meanwhile the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has given an update on the coronavirus vaccination campaign during a press conference on Thursday. From Thursday, the city's vaccination center at Rue Hancy is receiving eligible people by appointment. From Monday, vaccination centres will be opening the Palais des Expositions, the Nikaïa and the Théâtre de Verdure. The mayor said that "in about ten days" they will start the campaign for people over 75 years old, excluding nursing homes and hospitals. This comprises 35,000 people and they will be able to be vaccinated "as soon as we have the green light" from the Regional Health Agency.

Cannes - Meanwhile, a vaccination center is opening on Saturday at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. The Mayor of Cannes David Lisnard said that the center is indispensable to effectively fight the virus, implement a mass vaccination campaign and offer all those who want to be vaccinated a suitable and secure center.

Elected official calls for vaccination of “politicians to show safety of vaccine” - The president of the Ile-de-France region Valérie Pécresse, has called for the French Prime Minister to "get vaccinated in front of the cameras saying, that it is his duty to do so".

Speaking to French media, the elected official said that "Politicians must be vaccinated to show the safety of the vaccine, to restore confidence and they must be vaccinated publicly”. To encourage the French to be vaccinated against Covid-19, doctors have been vaccinated in public in recent days and artists are also committing to the vaccination in an appeal to the public.

Monaco business - A new business incubator is set to open in Monaco. Monaco Boost, which is 100% owned by the state, is located in Fontvieille and occupies over 1,200 m2. A call for applications will be launched at the end of January for individual offices with a view to setting up the first entrepreneurs in the premises in April.

State guaranteed loan (PGE) - Financial organizations in France have asked business leaders to allow more flexibility in the repayment of the state guaranteed loans (PGE). The loan which was set up to help companies get through the health crisis less than a year ago has seen nearly 25,000 companies in the Bouches-du-Rhône benefit from it but, since January 4th, financial organizations have resumed contact with business leaders about the terms of repayment of this loan, with some wanting more flexibility.

In detail, the state guarantee is 70% of the loan amount. For smaller businesses (SMEs), it can cover 90% of the loan. This loan can represent up to three months of turnover. For new businesses or start-ups, the loan amount can be up to two years of payroll. It is possible to apply for several loans. The cumulative amount of these loans must not exceed 25% of turnover or two years of payroll for a business in creation or innovation. Small and medium-sized businesses wishing to stagger the repayment will be able to benefit from bank rates of between 1% and 2.5% depending on the number of years of repayment.

Under the current rate conditions, the banks have undertaken to offer a maximum rate of: 1 to 1.5% for loans repaid by 2022 or 2023; 2 to 2.5% for loans repaid by 2024 to 2026. No loan repayment is required in the first year. There is an administrative fee of 1,000 euros per 100,000 euros and the rates will depend on the market but will not exceed 2.5%.

Reduce electricity consumption to avoid power cut – France’s Electricity Transmission Network the RTE has asked the French to reduce their electricity consumption. With temperatures promising to be particularly cold today across the country the network invites people to reduce their electricity consumption in order to avoid a power cut. In some places temperatures are expected to be between -4 and -5 degrees, well below seasonal norms.

Historical site allocated 300,000 euros - The bastion of the citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer in the Alpes-Maritimes has been allocated 300,000 euros from the “Loto du patrimoine 2020” in aid of renovation work. The monument is one of 18 classified as a "priority" and had been presented at the end of June by the Heritage Foundation. The monument is part of the famous citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer facing the harbour and dates from the 16th century. During the conflicts between France and Savoy, between the 17th and the 18th century, the site was used to defend the area. In 1706, it was spared from destruction by an order of Louis XIV. Between the end of the 17th century and 1870, the structure did not undergo any major transformation. The citadel, which became French, was listed in 1861. Today the amount of allocations dedicated to each renovation project has been revealed, with 300,000 euros allocated to the historical site of the Alpes-Maritimes. The total amount of the restoration work is estimated at 1.1 million euros.

Business

Shares in the electric carmaker Tesla have surged in heavy trade with the firm’s stock market valuation topping that of Facebook for the first time. Tesla shares jumped by nearly 8 percent in New York on Thursday to end the session at 816 dollars putting its market capitalization to 774 billion dollars and making it Wall Street’s 5th most valuable company. Tesla has now skyrocketed by 700 percent over the past 12 months making it the world’s most valuable car company in the world, despite production being a fraction of rivals such as Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors. The rise has also propelled Tesla founder Elon Musk to become the richest man in the world ahead of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Musk’s net worth is now estimated at 185 billion dollars. He reacted to the news by posting a comment on Twitter that said “how strange”. He added that around half of his wealth is intended to help problems on earth and the rest is intended to be spent on establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life of all species in case Earth gets hit by a meteor or World War 3 happens and we destroy ourselves.

Boeing has agreed to pay 2 and a half billion dollars to settle US criminal charges that it hid information from safety regulators about the design of its 737 Max jets. The US Justice Department said that Boeing had chosen “profit over candour” which impeded oversight of the planes which were involved in two deadly crashes. Boeing said that the agreement acknowledged that the firm had “fallen short”. Some 500 million dollars will go to families of the 346 people who were killed in the crashes. The Justice Department said that Boeing officials had concealed information about changes to an automated flight control system which investigators have tied to the crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019. Lawyers acting for the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash said that the settlement would not end their pending civil lawsuit against Boeing.

Hyundai has said that it’s in early discussions with Apple in a deal to work together on self-driving electric cars. The South Korean carmaker’s shares have soared by 20 percent this morning on the news. Last month, it emerged that Apple was moving forward with self-driving car technology with a 2024 launch date. The electric vehicle market is becoming increasingly competitive with Tesla grabbing the headlines with its soaring market valuation. Hyundai has already been pushing ahead with new technologies for electric and driverless vehicles as well as flying cars. Last month, it took a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics which valued the mobile robotics firm at 1.1 billion dollars.

Sport

Football - There are increasing concerns that elite sport may not be able to continue in England owing to increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. There were more than 62,000 new cases of the virus detected in the country on Thursday and increasing numbers of footballers have been testing positive. Some FA Cup third round ties have had to be called off and a number of teams will be fielding young and inexperienced players as top stars go down with the virus. There are two ties tonight. Aston Villa host Liverpool and Wolves play Crystal Palace.

Formula 1 - Lawrence Stroll says that he’s set his Aston Martin team the goal of winning the world championship. Stroll has renamed his Racing Point team after the iconic British car brand and says that his aim is to win. Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel will race for Aston Martin next season after leaving Ferrari. Stroll bought Racing Point in 2018 after it went into administration in its former guise as Force India. He decided to rename it Aston Martin after taking over the British firm in January last year. Aston Martin last raced in Formula 1 in 1960.

Cricket - It’s day 2 of the 3rd Test between Australia and India in Sydney. Australia were dismissed for 338 in their first innings as the tourists fought back. At tea, India had reached 28-0.

Rugby Union - The Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says that he’s “very confident” he can be fit in time for the side’s 6 Nations opener against Ireland on the 7th of February. The 35-year-old hasn’t played since the Autumn Nations Cup match against Italy on the 5th of December after picking up a knee injury. Ospreys coach Toby Booth says that the Wales captain is determined to play a part in the first 6 Nations game and that he’s doing everything he can to get himself ready.

There are two games in the Gallagher Premiership in England tonight. Bath play Wasps and Sale play Worcester. In the Guinness Pro 14 Glasgow play Edinburgh and Leinster play Ulster.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 10 degrees. Overnight lows of 4 degrees on the coast and 2 degrees inland with cloudy skies.

The weekend - Cloudy tomorrow with a high of 11, some rain into Sunday then partially cloudy with a high of 9 degrees.

And Finally

A judge in the UK has ruled that banning male staff from wearing shorts while allowing their female colleagues to wear above-ankle clothing amounts to sex discrimination. The verdict came at a tribunal brought by a Boots distribution worker who was reprimanded for wearing three-quarter length shorts on a sweltering summer day. The man protested that women working in the warehouse in Preston, were permitted to wear garments of the same length and were 'afforded a greater degree of discretion' to show their legs. Although his claim was unsuccessful because he had brought his case too late, Judge Alan Johnson ultimately ruled that he had been discriminated against. 

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