Port of Dover closed to all vehicle traffic leaving the UK for the next 48 hours – The UK has closed the port of Dover to all vehicles leaving the country for the next 48 hours and France has imposed a travel ban on the UK. The ban was introduced after the UK reported a more infectious and “out of control” coronavirus variant. Other European nations are also halting flights including Ireland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium. The ban is initially short-term, and an EU meeting will be held today to discuss a more co-ordinated response.
It has also been reported that Italy detected a patient infected with the new strain of the coronavirus on Sunday. The patient and his partner returned from the United Kingdom in the last few days with a flight that landed in Rome and the couple are now in isolation. Top health officials in the UK have said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly, or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.
Corsica introduces testing at ports and airports - Meanwhile Corsica has this weekend introduced compulsory Covid-19 testing at all ports and airports. The measure will control travellers arriving on the island and is in place until January 8th, 2021.
Miss Provence subjected to anti-Semitic abuse - Police have launched an investigation after the runner-up of Miss France, Miss Provence, was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse on social media. 21-year-old April Benayoum was awarded second place in the competition ceremony on Saturday. She revealed her Israeli origins in an interview at the event, leading to anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter. The tweets were widely condemned by French politicians and Jewish groups. France's Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was "deeply shocked by the insults" adding that "We must not let anything go," and that police were looking into the abusive tweets.
Marseille elects new mayor today - The 101 local councillors of Marseille will elect a new mayor today following the resignation of Michèle Rubirola on December 15th. It takes an absolute majority of 51 votes to elect the mayor in the first round, as in the second. If no candidate wins, a third round is needed. Appointed by the resigning mayor to succeed him, the first deputy socialist Benoît Payan is officially seeking the post.
Scientific Council says unlikely return to normal before next autumn - France’s Scientific Council has said that French people are unlikely to see a return to "normal" post-coronavirus life before next autumn as the vaccine roll out could take longer than initially thought.
The Council’s president Jean-François Delfraissy estimated some 22 million people in France were more vulnerable than others and that it could take until May to vaccinate them all, before shots could be rolled out to others. His comments come after French President Emmanuel Macron, who celebrates his 43rd birthday today, became the latest world leader to test positive for the coronavirus. Macron was tested after the "onset of the first symptoms" and is self-isolating for seven days, at a presidential retreat in Versailles, in accordance with national regulations. His office said he had a fever and was very tired but is continuing to work via video-conference.
Vaccine - Meanwhile Public Health France has said that people who have already had a symptomatic form of Covid-19 will not ‘systematically’ need a vaccine. The new statement is a U-turn on previous advice at the end of November. The health authority added that “current data does not allow authorities to know if there is a benefit to vaccinating people who have already been infected by Covid-19.
Ronaldo receives “Golden Foot Award” - Cristiano Ronaldo has received his "Golden Foot Award". The Juventus Turin striker and five-time Ballon d'Or received the award on Sunday in Italy, in the presence of the founder of the Golden Foot, Antonio Caliendo, and Louis Ducruet. The Portuguese player also took his footprints which will join those of Maradona, Pelé and Zidane on the Promenade des Champions here in Monaco. In a video message, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco sent his congratulations.
Cookies - A leading global producer of American-style cookies has warned of a shortage in the sweet, doughy biscuit, raising fears that the shortage could spread to France where cookie consumption has exploded as stay-at-home Covid-19 restrictions catapult the French to the top of a worldwide cookie craze.
According to data, cookie eating has risen more than 31% this year across the world, with people seeking comfort food during the coronavirus pandemic and France tops the chart for the global increase in consumption, hitting a 61% hike in cookie eating, beating the UK and Japan into second and third place respectively.
Christmas star - In an event which occurs only once every twenty years the two largest planets in our solar system will “meet” this evening. The planets Jupiter and Saturn are set to “meet” and the event is expected to be visible from France at around 7.22pm with both planets being perfectly aligned and appearing as “one planet”. Known as the “great conjunction” the space news service Space.com has also named it “the Christmas star.
US lawmakers have agreed to a roughly $900bn package of pandemic aid, including money for businesses and unemployment programmes. The money is set to accompany a bigger $1.4tn spending bill to fund government operations over the next nine months. It comes as many Covid-19 economic relief programmes were set to expire at the end of the month.
Britain has warned that the European Union must make a "substantial shift" if Brexit trade talks are to be saved. Talks continued in Brussels this weekend, but UK sources say it is increasingly likely that an agreement will not be reached in time. A UK government source said: "We need to get any deal right and based on terms which respect what the British people voted for”.
The head of Europe's aviation safety agency, EASA, has said he is "certain" Boeing's 737 Max is now safe to fly. Executive Director Patrick Ky said his organisation had "left no stone unturned" in its review of the aircraft and its analysis of design changes made by the manufacturer. The plane was grounded in March 2019 after it was involved in two catastrophic accidents, in which a total of 346 people died.