French and Riviera News Monday 23rd November 2020

News 

Storm Alex - The road to Tende and the Vallée de la Roya is to reopen this morning for the first time in seven weeks. Rescue services continue to work around the clock in the region which was devasted by Storm Alex on October 2nd. Only two trains a day are able to access the region as repairs are still being carried out on tracks damaged following the storm. While the mild weather has allowed reconstruction of roads and bridges many locals fear that with winter just around the corner and the arrival of freezing temperatures and snow could delay the colossal reconstruction work needed in the region.

Nice first 5G service in France - Mobile operator SFR has inaugurated its first 5G service in France in Nice. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi was present at the launch of the event on Friday. The operator said that as of now over 50% of the population of Nice is covered by 5G. Regarding possible health concerns, the mayor said that the health and safety of the people of Nice are his priority. He said that the deployment of 5G is the subject of the signing of a charter of recommendations by all telephone operators and if he had "the slightest doubt" he "would never have signed up". SFR said that the next areas to receive 5G services will be Montpellier, Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille and Paris Ile-de-France.

Europe-wide environmental initiative - Monaco is taking part in a Europe-wide environmental initiative. The European Week for Waste Reduction runs until 29 November. The theme of the 2020 edition is “invisible waste” such as waste which is generated to design, produce, package and deliver products to stores and is therefore invisible to consumers. The week will also raise awareness of the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Lockdown - French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation at 8pm tomorrow Tuesday 24th November. The French government have made plans to ease the lockdown in “three stages” according to the government spokesman Gabriel Attal. Ahead of his address the Head of State, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, said that “nothing is worse than incertitude and the impression of endless morosity,” adding that “we have to be coherent, clear and give a sense of direction” concluding that “It’s difficult because the pandemic is unpredictable and worldwide. But it’s the key to trust, which itself is the key to success." In describing the “three stages” Attal said that the "the first step will be on the 1st December, then before the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and then from January 2021".

The slow but steady improvement in the health crisis is continuing. According to official figures, the number of new infections on Saturday was 17,881, down 5,000 on the previous day. There was also a slight drop both in the number of intensive care admissions and Covid-related deaths. As a result, Attal said some shops would be allowed to reopen in the lead-up to Christmas. He warned however that bars and restaurants which currently can only serve takeaway food and make deliveries until 9 pm - would continue to face restrictions along with people's freedom of movement.

Ski resorts - Meanwhile the question of ski resorts reopening this winter remains unanswered as the Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to meet with representatives today to decide.

Mink – Mink infected with coronavirus have been found in France and are set to be culled after the virus was detected at a farm in the western part of the country. One thousand mink will be slaughtered after tests identified the virus at a farm in western France after the country started testing its four mink farms in mid-November.

Nicolas Sarkozy trial - The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy opens today before the Paris Criminal Court. Sarkozy is going on trial accused of corruption and influence-peddling, for allegedly trying to bribe a magistrate in return for information about an investigation into his party finances. It’s the first time in the Fifth Republic that a former President stands trial. The former president led France from 2007 to 2012. He faces ten years in prison and a million euros fine for corruption and influence peddling.

Christmas lights - As every year, Paris turned on its Christmas lights at the weekend on the Champs-Élysées where streets remain empty due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Business

Asian shares have risen this morning on hopes of imminent coronavirus vaccines but concerns over the impact of economic lockdowns and uncertainty over US stimulus has capped gains. On Sunday, a top official at the US government’s vaccine development programme said that first doses could be given to healthcare workers and other vulnerable people by mid-December. Markets have interpreted the comments as a sign that lockdowns that have paralysed the global economy could be coming to an end. Total Covid-19 infections in the United States topped 12 million over the weekend and there have been more than 255,000 deaths. Market sentiment remains fragile with monetary and fiscal stimulus for the US economy still some way off. The outgoing Trump administration is at loggerheads with the US Federal Reserve over key pandemic lending programmes that could potentially add stress to the economy.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has raised concerns about the world’s poorest people securing access to Covid-19 vaccines. Angela Merkel was speaking at the virtual G20 summit where leaders of the world’s richest 20 nations pledged fair distribution of vaccines. The German leader warned that progress had been slow and said that she would be taking the matter up with the global vaccine alliance GAVI. During the summit, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia, leaders promised to support poor countries whose economies have been badly damaged by the crisis but gave few details about spending. The coronavirus has infected nearly 60 million people worldwide since emerging in China last December with more than 1.4 million deaths.

The UK Finance Minster Rishi Sunak has said that people “will not see austerity” when he makes his Spending Review speech to Parliament later this week. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has however warned that the public will soon see an “economic shock laid bare” and that record government spending to deal with the pandemic must be “grappled with”. The Spending Review will give a clearer picture of the economic damage caused to the UK so far with reports of a freeze on public sector wages and possible tax rises and spending cuts further down the road.

Sport

Football - There were four games in the English Premier League on Sunday with Liverpool up to second in the table on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win over Leicester.

In the other results Fulham lost 3-2 at home to Everton. Sheffield United were beaten 1-0 at home by West Ham and Leeds and Arsenal drew 0-0. There are two games tonight. Burnley play Crystal Palace and Wolves host Southampton.

In the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, Rangers beat Aberdeen 4-0 to extend their lead at the top of the table to 11 points over Celtic although they’ve played two games more.

Tennis - Daniil Medvedev of Russia has won the season ending ATP Finals in London. The 24-year-old beat Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6 6-4 to claim the biggest title of his career. He’ll end the year at number 4 in the world rankings.

Rugby Union - France have beaten Scotland at Murrayfield for the first time in 6 years after coming through by 22 points to 15 in the Autumn Nations Cup on Sunday. The sides were level at half time and Virimi Vakatawa scored the only try of the game in  the second half. Scotland will have to hope that Italy beat France in Paris next week if they’re to have any chance of making the final.

There was one game in the Gallagher Premiership in England on Sunday. Wasps beat Bristol 23-20

And in the Guinness Pro 14 Ospreys beat Benetton 24-22. Connacht were 47-12 winners at Zebre. Leinster hammered Cardiff Blues 40-5 and Ulster beat Scarlets 26-24. There’s one game tonight. Glasgow play Munster.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperatures 15 degrees. Overnight lows of 8 degrees on the coast and 2 degrees inland with clear skies and some ground frost in places.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Mainly fine with highs of 14-15  degrees.

And finally 

Recent research has shown that husbands are “unhappy when their wives earn more than them and they feel a thrill if a pay rise increases salary superiority within their marriage”. A new study on the views of income by gender shows that men get a 'psychological kick' in life satisfaction if a salary increase widens the gap between theirs and the salary of their lower-paid wives. However, women do not experience the same competitive thrill if they receive the pay rise.

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