French and Riviera News Monday 18th January 2021

News

Vaccination campaign - As the vaccination campaign against Covid continues in France with today, all people over 75 and at high risk being vaccinated, the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, which began vaccinations a little earlier at the end of last week, has asked for “no more appointments to be made for the time being”. Telephone switchboards were taken by storm over the weekend with all vaccination centers in the region asking for people “not to make an appointment beyond February 14th”. While health authorities organize the distribution of the vaccine as well as the second dose, the postponement of appointments is also reportedly “linked to a lack of vaccines available in the Alpes Maritimes”.

Motorists stuck on the region’s roads returning from ski resorts - Hundreds of motorists returning from ski resorts in the Alpes Maritimes region found themselves stuck in very heavy traffic jams on Sunday afternoon. In an attempt to return ahead of the 6pm curfew, many who had taken to the hills over the weekend in the resorts of Tinée and Valberg were blocked on the road taking up to an hour to drive just ten kilometres.

Meanwhile, the president of Club Med has called for the reopening of ski resorts for the winter holidays. In an open letter to French Prime Minister published on Sunday, Henri Giscard d’Estaing pleads with the French government to reopen resorts saying that the “survival of resorts is at stake”. The French government is expected to make an announcement on January 20th on the future of mountain resorts in the face of Covid-19 restrictions. 100,000 seasonal jobs are at stake as well as thousands of other jobs such as ski instructors, local businesses and construction workers for a sector which generates nearly 10 billion euros.

Fight breaks out in front of supermarket in Nice - Police have intervened after a fight broke out between a young individual and a supermarket security guard. The incident occurred at the Monoprix supermarket on Place Garibaldi on Sunday evening, when a group of young people attempted to enter the store at 6pm despite the current curfew. The incident saw five municipal police vehicles deployed along with fire fighters and the tram traffic was temporarily interrupted. Both suffered minor injuries.

Monaco - The Monaco government has announced plans to pay employees who are not attending work because they are awaiting completion of PCR testing. The measure is in place until February 15th. When an employee or civil servant of the Principality is prescribed a work stoppage pending the completion of a PCR screening test, he or she will receive a daily allowance from the first day of absence from work. There was previously a waiting period of three days. These allowances guarantee the employee 50% of their remuneration, which may be topped up by the employer.

Digital identity - The mayor of Monaco Georges Marsan, has announced that as part of the digital transition in the Principality a new Monegasque identity card will be distributed this year which will allow each Monegasque, if they wish, to have a secure digital identity, which will greatly facilitate administrative procedures.

Military shell - A military shell of Italian origin has been discovered on the beach of La Garoupe in Antibes. The discovery on Sunday afternoon led to as a precaution, the area being evacuated. This is not the first such discovery in Antibes. In July 2018 and July 2019, shells were found on the beaches of the city of the ramparts.

Travel restrictions - New travel restrictions will come into effect today for the French overseas territory of Martinique, while international air and sea links with the island of Mayotte were suspended on Sunday after a case of the south African variant was detected there. Neighbouring Reunion island has also confirmed its first case of the variant. There is growing concern about the spread of the Covid-19 virus in France’s overseas territories after many mainland French tourists spent their Christmas holidays there. 100,000 travelled to Martinique alone.

Cannabis - Despite having some of the continent’s toughest laws against cannabis, France is Europe’s biggest cannabis consumer and in response, a group of MPs have launched an initiative to encourage France's political class to be more open to the idea of legalizing cannabis. A citizens’ consultation was launched on January 13th and is open until February 28th, with two objectives: to better understand the French public’s views about cannabis, and to understand what government policies on the drug people want.

Business

Asian markets have bounced back this morning, paring early losses as data confirmed that China’s economy had grown in the last quarter as factory output jumped. The Chinese economy grew by 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter according to official data-topping forecasts of 6.1 percent. Industrial production for December also topped estimates although retail sales missed the mark. The pick-up in China was in marked contrast to the United States and Europe where the spread of coronavirus has dented consumer spending, a fact underlined by dismal US retail sales figures which were reported on Friday. There are also doubts over how much of President-elect Joe Biden’s stimulus package will make it through Congress given Republican opposition as well as concerns about more mob violence at his inauguration on Wednesday.

Oil prices have fallen back this morning, extending losses last week that ended a rally driven by production cuts and strong Chinese demand. The market’s recovery is once again being called into question as coronavirus infections rise. Brent crude was trading down 1 percent a little earlier this morning at 54 dollars 65 with West Texas Intermediate down 1 percent at 51 dollars 93. The falls follow declines of 2.3 percent on Friday. Benchmark crude has risen in recent weeks, buoyed by the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and a surprise cut in output by Saudi Arabia. However, surging new global coronavirus infections have cast doubt on how long demand will hold up. In China where new Covid-19 infections have been rising, more than 28 million people are now in lockdown as Beijing tries to avoid a resurgence of the virus.

A group of business leaders has written to the British government calling for financial support for the struggling rail firm Eurostar. Bosses from firms including Fortnum and Mason, the West End property firm Shaftsbury and the ExCel Conference Centre have signed the letter which asks for access to government loans and business rates relief. Eurostar is being threatened by a large drop in customer numbers due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. In November, it reported a 95 percent drop in passenger numbers since March. In normal times, Eurostar offers two trains per hour at peak times. It’s currently offering just two services a day between London, Paris and Brussels.

Sport

Cricket - England have beaten Sri Lanka by 7 wickets in the first Test in Galle. The tourists secured the win on the final morning of day 5 having been set a modest total of 74 to win the match. After losing three wickets in the final session of day 4, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence steered England home as they reached 76-3 to take a one nil lead in the two match series. The second Test starts in Galle on Friday.

It’s day 4 of the fourth and final Test between Australia and India in Brisbane with the series tied at 1-1 and the match still very much alive. At tea, Australia had reached 243-7 in their second innings, leading India by 276 runs with a session and a day to go.

Football - There were 3 games in the English Premier League on Sunday with the big match at Anfield ending Liverpool 0 Manchester United 0.

In the other games Spurs were 3-1 winners at rock bottom Sheffield United, while Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 4-0. In the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, Motherwell and Rangers drew 1-1.

Tennis - More than 70 players are being confined to their hotel rooms as a result of positive coronavirus tests on flights taking them to Melbourne for the Australian Open. Tournament organisers say that there is no way around the problem with the event due to start on the 7th of February and strict quarantine regulations in force in Australia. Some players have said that they wouldn’t have travelled to Australia if the rules had been made clear to them. The organisers say that the rules had been made clear and the event will go ahead as planned.

Formula 1 - The former Suzuki MotoGP team boss Davide Brivio has been appointed as the new racing director for Alpine. Alpine, formerly known as Renault says that Brivio’s exact role will be announced in the coming weeks and that he will report directly to chief executive Laurent Rossi. Brivio replaces Cyril Abiteboul who left the team last week.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 12 degrees. Overnight lows of 4 degrees on the coast and -1 degree inland with a widespread frost and clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Mainly fine tomorrow, rain on Wednesday. Highs of 10-12 degrees.

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