Final version of “attestation” goes online - The final version of the “attestation” required in sixteen departments including the Alpes Maritimes, which are currently under lockdown, has gone online on the government’s website. The French government faced a wave of criticism after they were unable to provide a clear form for compelling reasons allowing individuals to circulate. The Head of State Emmanuel Macron intervened on Saturday morning calling for the procedure to be "made simpler and more effective" leading to modifications to documents deemed too complex and the announcement that “to circulate within 10kms of your home you would no longer require a justification”. One elected official ironically pointed out that “you were lucky to have completed filling out the original form which consisted of two pages and 15 potential reasons before the 7pm lockdown”.
What are the chances of the lockdown in the Alpes Maritimes being cut short? – Meanwhile the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has confirmed that he has negotiated with Prime Minister Jean Castex that should the incidence rate drop below 400 lockdown measures would be lifted in the region. On Friday 19th March the incidence rate stood at 447. Estrosi nonetheless emphasised the importance to respect the restrictions in place in the region making it very clear that there will be "zero tolerance". The mayor concluded that he doesn’t "criticise the government for the lockdown but for the constant changes to the rules and restrictions".
Carnival in Marseille – Thousands of people have taken part in a carnival in Marseille with the prefecture strongly condemning the "irresponsibility of participants in the midst of the health crisis”. On Sunday 21st March, around 6,500 participants gathered in the city not wearing masks or respecting self-distancing measures. Police issued several fines and seven people were arrested for "violence towards police and vandalism”.
Pressure in hospitals – Meanwhile the pressure in France’s hospitals continues to increase with 4,406 patients in intensive care, according to Public Health France. This is the highest figure since the end of November.
On Sunday 21st March figures show that 25,926 patients are currently hospitalised, including 926 who arrived in the last 24 hours. 30,581 new cases have been identified and 138 people have died in the last 24 hours in France from Covid, bringing the total number of deaths to 92,305 since the outbreak began over a year ago.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran has said that it is the vaccination which will change the situation. So far, 6,146,162 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Monaco - And in Monaco for the first time since December 13th there were no new cases of Covid declared on Sunday 21st March. The total number of residents affected stands at 2,173. Thirty-seven people are in hospital and 61 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.
In other news
72 migrants rescued - French maritime authorities have rescued 72 migrants in the English Channel whose vessels ran into difficulties as they tried to reach the UK. Coastguards were alerted early on Sunday with all the rescued migrants in good health who were later handed over to rescue services and the border police. Since late 2018, the number of illegal Channel crossings has risen sharply as migrants try to reach Britain despite dangers linked to busy shipping traffic, strong currents and low water temperatures.
Law allowing off-duty police officers to carry firearms - France’s Senate has passed a security law that allows off-duty police officers to carry their firearms into public establishments such as theatres and shopping centres. The article has drawn opposition from across the political spectrum despite being passed. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin pointed out during the Senate’s debate that police officers carrying weapons while off-duty is not new. Since 2016, officers have had the right to carry their firearms outside working hours if they have requested it from superiors.
Teenagers arrested for trying to steal train - Three teenagers have been arrested for attempting to steal a train to get home. The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning when the group of teenagers aged between 16 and 17-year-old managed to get into the train but failed to start it. They were trying to make a 40km journey from Saverne to Strasbourg in north eastern France.
Green waste - New measures have been introduced in the Gulf of Saint Tropez in the Var, for green waste. Due to the rising volumes of green waste in waste collection centers, ComCom du Golfe has launched a campaign to help individuals and local councils.
It should be remembered that the ban on fires and burning of plant waste in force since November 2011, means that with the exception of professionals who hold a permit, anyone who burns green waste outdoors is liable to a fine of 450 euros.
Best croissant in the Var - The best croissant in the Var has been awarded to baker Patrick Patin by the « Syndicat des patrons boulangers et boulangers-pâtissiers ». Popular amongst local residents the baker serves up to 400 traditional baguettes and 500 croissants a day.
World Happiness Report - An annual report on happiness around the world suggests the pandemic has not crushed people's spirits. The 2021 World Happiness Report found that while emotions changed as the pandemic set in, longer-term satisfaction with life was less affected. The annual report, produced by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks 149 countries based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy and the opinions of residents. The top 10 countries are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Austria. It was the fourth consecutive year that Finland came out on top.
The Turkish currency has fallen by as much as 14% after the country’s President sacked the central bank governor over the weekend. Naci Agbal has been given credit as a key force in pulling the lira back from historic lows. President Erdogan replaced him on Saturday in a surprise move meaning the third central bank governor exit in under two years. Mr Agbal who was appointed last November had been raising interest rates to fight inflation running above 15%. The removal has shocked investors who had praised recent monetary policy. The lira was at one point the best performing emerging market currency of 2021 having recovered almost a fifth from a low against the US dollar. Investors have been calling for tighter monetary policy in Turkey to control its high inflation rate. There are now concerns that the decision to replace the governor could erode gains made during Mr Agbul’s tenure.
Canadian Pacific Railway has agreed to acquire Kansas City southern in a $25 billion dollar cash and stock deal to create the first railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada. It would be the largest ever combination of North American railways by transaction value. The move comes amid a recovery in supply chains that were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The combination needs the approval of the US Surface Transportation Board. Both companies are confident that approval will be given by the middle of 2022. If the STB rejects the combination, Canadian Pacific would have to sell the shares of Kansas City southern with sources saying they could be divested to private equity firms or be relisted in the stock market.
The oil giant Saudi Aramco has announced that profits fell sharply last year as lockdowns around the world curbed demand. Earnings in 2020 fell by nearly 45% compared with 2019. The firm which is one of the largest companies in the world, still made a profit of $49 billion dollars and said that shareholders would still receive dividends totalling $75 billion dollars. Saudi Aramco said it had been one of the most challenging years in recent history. Over the course of last year the price of oil fell by a fifth as countries halted travel, closed down industries and restricted many day-to-day activities reducing demand for energy and fuel.
Football – There were two quarter-final FA Cup ties in England on Sunday. Chelsea beat Sheffield United two nil and Leicester City beat Manchester United 3-1. The semi finals will be between Chelsea and Manchester City and Leicester and Southampton.
In the English Premier League on Sunday West Ham and Arsenal drew three all and Spurs were two nil winners at Aston Villa.
In the Scottish Premiership Celtic and Rangers drew 1-1.
Rugby Union – France can win the Six Nations Championship if they beat Scotland by a winning margin of 21 points or more in a bonus point win on Friday. Should France secure a bonus point win with a 20 points winning margin they’d be separated from Wales on tries scored across the Championship. At the moment Wales have scored 20 tries and France 15. If France scored five tries and beat Scotland by 20 points the title would be shared for the first time since 1988.
Cricket - West Indies bowled Sri Lanka out for 169 on day one of the first Test in Antigua. At stumps West Indies had reached 13 without loss in reply.
Tennis – Serena Williams has pulled out of this week’s Miami Open following surgery. The 23 time Grand Slam singles champion said that she was disappointed at having to withdraw. Williams has had dental surgery and said she had not yet recovered. The men’s draw has already been affected by the withdrawals of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Golf – Matt Jones of Australia fired a 2 under par final round of 68 to win the Honda Classic in Florida by 5 shots on Sunday. The 40-year-old led by three going into the final round and extended his advantage to secure his first PGA tour title since 2014. Brandon Hagy of the United States finished second on 7 under par.
Clear skies with light to moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 16-17 degrees. Overnight lows of 6-8 degrees with clear skies.
Tuesday and Wednesday - Clear skies with highs of 15-16 degrees.