French and Riviera News Friday April 30th 2021

News

Macron - President Macron has unveiled a timetable for the easing of coronavirus restrictions. In an interview with regional journalists, the President said that he hoped that life in France will slowly return to normal over the coming weeks. From May the 3rd, the public will no longer need to fill in a form justifying daytime activities and people will be allowed to travel to different regions of the country. Colleges and high schools will reopen but the night time curfew will be maintained from 7pm and non-essential shops will remain closed. From the 19th of May, the curfew will be pushed back to 9pm and there will be limited reopening of cinemas and museums. Bar and restaurant terraces will also be allowed to reopen and sporting events will be allowed to welcome limited numbers of spectators. A ban on gatherings of more than 10 people will be maintained. From June the 9th, the curfew will be pushed back to 11pm and cafés, restaurants and fitness services will be allowed to reopen. Home working regulations will be relaxed and sporting events will be allowed to welcome up to 5,000 spectators. Foreign tourists will be welcomed to France as long as they can provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. From the 30th of June, the curfew will be scrapped and outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people will be allowed as long as those present are in possession of a health pass. Discotheques will remain closed and social distancing measures are to be maintained. Mr Macron will explain the measures further in an address to the nation later.

Masks - The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes is coming under pressure to lift the requirement forcing people to wear face masks in public places. Several local politicians have contacted the prefect saying the regulation should now be scrapped. The government may announce the easing of the requirement as part of plans to relax coronavirus restrictions but nothing definite has yet been announced.

Current situation - Five more deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the Alpes Maritimes over the last 24 hours. Despite the sad news, the situation does seem to be improving with hospitals under less strain and vaccinations rising. 1,911 people in the department have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic and hospital occupancy is still running at 70.5%. The incidence rate which for so long was way above 400 people per 100,000 inhabitants has now fallen to 157. The national incidence rate is 289. So far 308,822 people have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

Cap d'Ail - A fresh vaccination programme is taking place in Cap d’Ail today. Anyone aged 60 or over as well as those working in childcare, schools or youth activity centres will be able to receive their first jab of the Pfizer vaccine. Anyone who  already received a first shot on April 2nd can now get the booster jab. To register go to website or call 04 93  78 87 65.

Siege - Police in Le Cannet have arrested a 60-year-old man who had barricaded himself inside an apartment. Reports say the man, who was armed, had caused considerable damage inside the building which he was sharing with a former partner in the Breguieres area of the town. It’s understood that he was upset because the relationship had come to an end. He eventually gave himself up and police have confiscated a revolver. Nobody was injured.

Let the train take the strain – Plans to link Paris and Toulouse with a high speed train service have been accelerated. Currently, the journey between the two cities requires a diversion to Bordeaux, taking the total travel time to 4 1/2 hours. The government is to now sink €4.1 billion into the project for a direct service which has been under discussion for nearly 40 years. The new service is now due to open in 2024, the year France hosts the Olympic Games and will cut the journey time to just three hours.

Monaco concerts – Music fans in Monaco and the surrounding area now have something to look forward to with The Sporting Summer Festival set to go ahead. Organisers SBM plan to announce in the middle of May the lineup for the summer but mystery still surrounds who will actually be appearing. One date is set, the legendary Simple Minds will be playing at the Salle des Etoiles on July the 23rd. The Monaco government has yet to set out the conditions for the holding of live events and how many people will be allowed to attend. An announcement is expected within the next few days as Monaco gears up for the summer while at the same time making every effort to keep the virus in check.

Weather – Heavy rain and thunderstorms have caused localised flooding in some places and more rain, although not as heavy is forecast for Saturday. On Thursday, much of the region experienced extremely heavy rain with scattered thunderstorms but the forecast for today is better. Things should start to improve markedly on Sunday and next week is looking good.

Business

US economic growth accelerated in the first quarter as the government gave money to mostly low income households, fueling consumer spending and setting a course for what is expected to be the strongest performance this year in nearly four decades. The government handouts also extended to businesses especially in the service industry. The massive fiscal stimulus and easing anxiety over Covid-19 has resulted in a stronger economic rebound in the United States compared to its global rivals. The second fastest GDP growth since the third quarter of 2003 left output just 0.9 percent shy of its level at the end of 2019. Economists expect a full recovery from the pandemic recession in late 2023. The report is a boost for President Biden as he celebrated 100 days in the White House.

Amazon has posted record profits and signalled that consumers would keep spending in a growing US economy. Since the start of the pandemic, shoppers have relied increasingly on Amazon for deliveries of home staples and the firm sees the trend continuing post pandemic particularly for groceries. Amazon has now posted four consecutive record quarterly profits, attracted more than 200 million Prime loyalty subscribers and recruited over half a million employees to keep up with  demand. The firm said it expects operating income for the current quarter to be between 4 1/2 billion and $8 billion which includes around 1.5 billion in costs related to COVID-19. Amazon shares rose 4% in after hours trading.

Bars and restaurants in the UK are struggling to recruit enough staff and some may not be able to fully reopen in May after thousands of workers left the sector. Owners say they are expecting huge demand from customers and staff shortages may mean they have to limit opening hours. Figures show that more than one in 10 UK hospitality workers left the industry in the past year. Recruitment agencies say that the pandemic and Brexit are to blame. The UK Trade Association says that chef vacancies are among the most difficult to fill but shortages of staff are being reported across all types of roles. Before Brexit, much of the UK’s hospitality workforce was made up of workers from overseas, including from the EU but hundreds of thousands of foreign workers have left the country over the last year.

Sport

Football – Manchester United have booked their place in the final of the Europa league after thrashing Roma 6-2 last night’s semi-final first leg tie. Arsenal lost 2-1 at Villareal but take a precious away goal into the second leg next week.

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

Formula One – Lewis Hamilton says that he intends to remain in Formula One for at least another season after this year. The seven time world champion signed a new one-year deal with Mercedes at the start of 2021 and said yesterday he still plans to be in the sport next season. First practice for this weekend‘s Portugal Grand Prix takes place at 11:30 this morning with second practice at 3pm. Qualifying is at 3 pm on Saturday with the race at 3pm on Sunday. Hamilton leads Max Verstappen by one point in the drivers’ championship heading into the weekend.

Rugby Union – The semi finals of the European Champions Cup are being played this weekend. Tomorrow, it’s the all French clash between Toulouse and Bordeaux and on Sunday La Rochelle play Leinster.

Weather

Partially cloudy with light to moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 13 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend - Rain tomorrow. Clouding over tomorrow with afternoon rain. Fine on Sunday. Highs of 17-21 degrees.

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