French and Riviera News Monday 20th September 2021

Local News

Armed individual arrested in Nice - An armed individual has been arrested in the centre of Nice after injuring someone. The incident occurred on Sunday morning in front of a bar on the Rue de France when a fight broke out. A security perimeter was set up by police and an investigation has been opened into the incident.

Traffic disrupted after vehicle catches fire - Traffic has been disrupted on the A8 motorway after a vehicle caught fire on Sunday evening. Fire services intervened shortly after 7pm when the vehicle parked on the hard shoulder, near to the motorway exit of Mandelieu la Napoule, burst into flames. Strong winds enabled the fire spread to nearby vegetation. No one was injured in the incident.

Meanwhile an accident on the Promenade des Anglais near Cap 3000 brought traffic to a standstill on Sunday evening causing a 3km tail back. One person was slightly injured following the collision between a car and a motorbike.

National News

Easing travel restrictions - There has been an easing on the travel restrictions for those vaccinated travelling to England. From October 4th, vaccinated travellers to England will no longer need to be tested before leaving a country that is not on the red list. Then at the end of October, the PCR test required on the second day after arrival on English soil will be replaced by an antigen test. Travellers who test positive will have to isolate themselves and then perform a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost.

Eight countries are leaving the red list, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives. The orange list will disappear. In contrast, unvaccinated travelers from countries not classified in red will have to undergo PCR tests before their departure and on the second and eighth day after arrival, with the option of taking a third test to reduce the 10-day quarantine. Also from October 4th, the British government will recognize the vaccination of 17 additional countries and territories, including Japan and Singapore.

France’s health minister suggests that there is hope that the worst of the health crisis is over – Meanwhile in an interview published at the weekend France’s health minister Olivier Véran has suggested “that for France there is hope that the worst of the health crisis is over”. Hospital admissions in France have been decreasing for several weeks, both in standard stays and in intensive care. New daily cases are also decreasing by nearly 30% per week to the point of being recently passed below the symbolic bar of 10,000 daily contaminations.

The milestone of 50 million vaccinated has just been reached, in part thanks to the implementation of the health pass. With 9 out of 10 French people having received at least one dose of the vaccine. On Sunday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal evoked for the first time the possibility of a "local health pass", the application of which would depend on the health situation in each region justifying the need to “adapt things”. The “local health pass” is to be discussed at the Defense Council which is planned for this Wednesday 22nd September.

Meanwhile in response to the local health pass, epidemiologist Catherine Hill referred to it as a “monumental error”. As according to Hill “people will just go to a nearby department if they do not have a vaccination pass, and will contaminate those around them in restaurants, cinemas etc.” Adding that "17 million French people have not yet been vaccinated" which is enough to allow the virus to continue to circulate.

Joe Biden requests talks with Macron over submarine contract - In an effort to mend relations, following a row over a submarine contract, US President Joe Biden has requested talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. Sunday's announcement came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected French accusations that they had lied about plans to cancel the contract to buy French submarines, saying he had raised concerns over the deal "some months ago". Australia's decision to cancel the deal in favour of American nuclear-powered vessels sparked outrage in Paris and saw Macron recall France's ambassadors to Australia and the US in an unprecedented move. Biden and Macron are expected to hold the telephone conversation “in the coming days”.

United Nation’s report - A recent report published by the United Nations has warned that the reduction in carbon emissions caused by the covid pandemic has done nothing to slow the earth’s warming. Ahead of next month’s Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, the report shows that the world is not meeting emissions reductions targets set out in the 2015 Paris agreement. The global economic downturn caused by Covid only temporarily reduced CO2 emissions, and was not enough to reverse temperature increases.

Working from home has changed people’s behaviour and hygiene habits according to study - According to a recent European study conducted by Poly (an audio and video equipment specialist) working from home has changed people’s behaviour as well as hygiene habits. Researchers found that employees can suffer from “home comfort syndrome“ due to the lack of boundaries between home and work. The syndrome is illustrated by new behaviours which are often positive but can sometimes be negative. On the positive side, 23% of respondents in Europe and in France exercise (such as yoga, walking or stretching) during a conference call or video conference. As for new negative habits, 46% of French employees admit to working from their sofa, and 27% feel less embarrassed to watch video streaming services, like Netflix, when they are supposed to work. Worse still is that the study revealed that as colleagues only see each other through a webcam, home comfort syndrome has also caused some of us to abandon personal hygiene with 57% of employees in Europe and 53% in France saying they are less concerned about their appearance since working from home. Among them, 50% in Europe compared to 49% in France admit to using less deodorant and 34% brush their teeth less often in Europe compared to 33% in France. 33% of French people wash less frequently and 41% were more likely to work while having a hangover. 77% spent less time grooming and getting ready for work, while 74% used fewer products, such as makeup and hair gel. And 14% of respondents in France saw an employee picking their nose during a video conference (compared to only 7% in Germany).

Tightrope walker crosses the Seine in Paris - A French tightrope walker has crossed the river Seine in Paris. 27-year-old Nathan Paulin completed the breathtaking feat some 70 metres up in the air as crowds watched from the Eiffel Tower and along the riverbanks. Paulin is the holder of several world records and performed on Saturday to celebrate France's annual Heritage Day, when people are invited to visit historic buildings and monuments that are usually closed to the public.

Business

Shares in Evergrande have continued to tumble today as investors take a negative view of its business prospects with a fast approaching deadline for payment obligations this week. The company’s property management unit dropped by more than 8% while its electric car unit was down by 2%. Evergrande has been scrambling to raise funds to pay its many lenders, suppliers and investors with regulators warning that its $305 billion of liabilities could spark broader risks to China’s financial system if not stabilised. Evergrande shares have plunged by 15 percent overall in Hong Kong today. The firm is due to pay $83.5 million interest on September 23 for its March 2022 bond. It also has another $47.5 million interest payment due on September 29 for the March 2024 notes. The bonds would default if Evergrande fails to pay the interest within 30 days.

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has issued a fresh appeal for Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling, arguing a default on US debt would trigger a historic financial crisis. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Janet Yellen said that the crisis triggered by a default would compound the damage from the continuing coronavirus pandemic, upsetting markets and plunging the US economy back into recession. Ms Yellen has previously said that a default could come during October when the Treasury exhausts its cash reserves and borrowing capacity under the 28.4 trillion dollar debt limit. She said that America can borrow more cheaply than almost any other country and defaulting would jeopardise an enviable fiscal position. She added it would also make America a more expensive place to live in as the high cost of borrowing would fall on consumers.

The UK government is considering offering emergency state backed loans to energy companies as firms battle to stay afloat amid surging gas prices. Smaller suppliers are facing potential ruin as price hikes have made their promises to customers undeliverable. The process for dealing with failing firms is under pressure as adopting customers has become unattractive for surviving companies due to price rises. The loans are expected to be offered to encourage firms to take on customers. Some smaller energy firms have already ceased trading and more are expected to go out of business within the next few days.

Sport

Football – Tributes have been paid to the former Chelsea, Spurs and England star Jimmy Greaves who has died at the age of 81. A host of former Spurs players lined the pitch at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday before the match against Chelsea. Greaves started his career with Chelsea before spells at AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham. He holds the record for the most goals scored in the English top flight with 357 and was a member of the 1966 England World Cup winning squad.

There were three games in the English Premier League on Sunday. Brighton beat Leicester 2–1. West Ham lost 2–1 at home to Manchester United and Chelsea were 3–0 winners at Spurs.

Rugby Union – There was one game in the Gallagher English Premiership on Sunday. The champions Harlequins were 26–20 winners at Newcastle.

Cricket – New Zealand say they were warned of a specific and credible threat against the squad before abandoning their tour of Pakistan. New Zealand pulled out of the one day and T20 series before the opening game in Rawalpindi last Friday following a government security alert. The players have now flown to Dubai. The England and Wales Cricket Board is to decide within the next 24 hours whether the men’s and women’s tours of Pakistan in October will go ahead. England’s men have not toured Pakistan since 2005 and the women’s team have never visited. The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the government is not in a position to give further information as to the nature of the intelligence, other than to say that it was a direct threat and that it was a credible threat.

Weather

Partially cloudy with light to moderate westerly or variable winds. Top temperature 25-27 degrees. Overnight lows of 17-19 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Partially cloudy with highs of 24-26 degrees.

And Finally 

Scientists have issued a warning that koalas could become extinct with just 30,000 left in the wild. New figures from the Australian Koala Foundation - which has been monitoring koala numbers for about a decade - reveal populations have plunged by 30 per cent in just three years. 

The most recent population estimate is that the country is home to between 32,000 and 58,000 koalas, down from between 46,000 and 82,000 in 2018. That's just a fraction of the eight million koalas in Australia when European settlement began. 

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