French and Riviera News Monday 26th April 2021

News 

Back to school after three weeks of closure - It’s back to school today for all nursery and elementary classes in France after three weeks of closure due to the health crisis. A strict health protocol is planned along with an increase of testing capacities. Classes will be closed after one detected case of Covid and pupils will be spaced two metres apart in school canteens. The government has advised parents, when possible, “not to send their children to the canteen”. Testing is to be increased with some 400,000 saliva tests being made available with a target of 600,000 per week by mid-May. These tests will be distributed firstly in regions with a high incidence rate. Middle and high school students have one more week of distance learning before being allowed back into the classroom on Monday May 3rd.

French President to visit school, as classes welcome back pupils today - To mark the reopening of schools French President Emmanuel Macron is this morning set to visit a school in the Seine-et-Marne region on the outskirts of Paris. Meanwhile speaking on Sunday evening ahead of the reopening of schools French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, declared to French media that “Schools are not responsible for the epidemic and that they are not a specific place of contamination”.

Covid figures as schools reopen - With the return to school Covid figures in France were reported on Sunday as being “high but stable”. On Sunday 5,978 people were hospitalized in intensive care with a total of 30,287 people in hospital. 145 additional deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, compared to 220 on Saturday 24th April and the number of new cases stood at 24,465.

Reopening in France - While the French government looks set on sticking to a plan of reopening terraces and some cultural places mid-May government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned on Sunday that there will be “no big night of reopening” and that it will be done gradually.

Covid variants - Meanwhile concerning Covid variants the French Prime Minister Jean Castex claimed at the weekend that "a battle against the variants has begun”. According to Castex "all precautions have been taken" to ensure the quarantine of travellers from five countries at risk, Brazil, India, South Africa, Argentina and Chile.

Park in Paris transformed into open-air nightclub - Hundreds of young people have transformed a park in Paris into an “open-air nightclub”. Sunday evening saw people gather in the park of Buttes-Chaumont with many ignoring barrier gestures as park wardens intervened just minutes before the 7pm curfew.

83-year-old Monaco residents dies from Covid – Meanwhile the Prince’s Government here in Monaco has offered its sincere condolences to the family and relatives after an 83-year-old Monaco resident died from Covid on Sunday April 25th. To date 32 residents have died in the Principality since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sunday three new cases were declared with the number of residents affected by Covid standing at 2,432. Nine people are currently in hospital and 36 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Covid figures for the Alpes Maritimes – Figures published for the Alpes Maritimes have shown that 71 people are currently in intensive care and 227 people are hospitalised. Meanwhile the incidence rate continues to fall standing at 179 which is below the alert threshold and the national average of 319.

Vaccination – Concerning the vaccination campaign 14,012,202 people have received at least one injection of the vaccine and 5,498,809 people have received both doses, according to the Directorate General of Health (DGS).

In other news 

Thousands protest across France in support of Sarah Halimi - Thousands of protesters gathered in several French cities to denounce a court's refusal of a trial for a man who killed a 65-year-old Jewish woman, after experts determined he acted in a "delirious fit" due to heavy marijuana use. The decision has infuriated the victim's family as well as Jewish groups, and last week prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to urge a change in French law to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs. Sarah Halimi was pushed out the window of her Paris flat by her neighbour 27-year-old Kobili Traore.

French volunteers leave cave after 40-day study - A group of French volunteers have emerged from a cave after a 40-day study exploring the limits of human adaptability to isolation. The project aimed to test how people respond to losing their sense of time and space. The so-called Deep Time experiment came to an end on Saturday, allowing the eight men and seven women, aged 27 to 50, who took part to leave the cave. The scientists behind the project say it will help them understand how people can adapt to extreme living conditions. The purpose of the study has particular relevance during the coronavirus pandemic, a time when lockdown measures have confined millions of people to isolation.

Tribute to Le Petit Prince - In celebration of the 75th anniversary of 'Le Petit Prince' the 'I Love Nice' structure has paid tribute. It is in Nice that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, world visionary, got married. Saint-Exupéry had ties with the Côte d'Azur, and members of his family lived in Fréjus, Cabris and Nice. And above all, he got married in Nice! He even lived in Nice for a little while afterwards, near Cimiez. Saint-Exupéry had been a visionary. He wrote in the Little Prince: "When you have finished your morning wash, you must then clean your planet carefully". It is difficult to be more avant-garde for this novel which was published for the first time in New York, then Paris, 75 years ago.

Business

The boss of the networking giant Cisco has said the shortage of computer chips is set to last for most of this year. Many firms have had to delay production because of a lack of semiconductors, triggered by the Covid pandemic and other factors. Chuck Robbins said that he estimated that there is another six months to get through in the short term. He said providers are building more capacity and that will improve over the next 12 to 18 months. The expansion of capacity is seen as being crucial as advances in technology including 5G, cloud computing, the Internet of things and artificial intelligence drive a big increase in demand. The insatiable demand for semiconductors is the reason why major manufacturers are announcing plans to significantly expand production. Recently US President Joe Biden has urged business leaders to make the United States a world leader in computer chips which the White House says is a top and immediate priority.

A report by Reuters says that two of France’s richest businessmen are close to a deal over the media and publishing giant Lagardere. Vincent Bollore, the top shareholder in Lagardere and the luxury good tycoon Bernard Arnault have been at the centre of a battle for control of the firm and its influential media outlets for months. Reuters says that the saga has transfixed top political circles in France a year ahead of the Presidential election with some sources close to President Macron fearing that Bollore could seize assets like Europe 1 Radio and build up a powerful right-wing outlet that would go against his campaign. Sources familiar with the talks say that the two businessmen are finalising a deal that would include a five year pact not to dismantle the company. Details of the agreement and shareholder alliances as well as what would happen to some assets including Europe 1 and the Journal du Dimanche newspaper have not yet been finalised. Other reports say the deal has not yet been signed and talks could be scrapped at the last minute. Lagardere is due to hold a board meeting today.

The former chief executive of the UK Post Office is to leave her role on the board of the retailer Dunelm following the IT scandal which led to the wrongful convictions of former postmasters. An announcement on the future of Paula Vennells is expected to be made this morning. Vennells, who was Post Office boss from 2012 to 2019 has been a non-executive director at the home furnishings chain since 2019. She’s also to stop her duties as an ordained Church of England minister. On Friday, 39 former post office workers saw their criminal convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal. They were based on the flawed software system Horizon which showed shortfalls in their accounts where they did not exist. Other appeals are expected to follow in what’s the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

Sport

Football – Manchester City have won the first piece of domestic silverware in England by beating Spurs one nil in the League Cup final at Wembley. A Laporte header on 82 minutes gave City the winner. It’s the fourth consecutive season that Manchester City have won the League Cup.

There were three games in the English Premier League on Sunday. Burnley did their survival chances the power of good with a four nil away win at Wolves. Leeds United and Manchester United drew 0-0 and Aston Villa and West Brom drew 2-2. There’s one game tonight. Leicester play Crystal Palace.

In the Scottish Cup on Sunday, Dundee United were three nil winners at Aberdeen and Rangers and St Johnstone drew 1-1 with St Johnstone coming through on penalties.

Rugby Union – There was one game in the Gallagher premiership on Sunday. Wasps bear Bath 39 points to 29. In the Guinness Pro 14  Rainbow Cup Dragons beat Scarlets 52 points to 32.

Tennis – Rafael Nadal has won his 12th Barcelona open title in a three-set victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal saved a match point along the way before finally coming through 6–4 6–7 7–5. The victory took three hours 38 minutes and gave 34-year-old his 61st clay-court title. Nadal said it had been been an important victory and that he felt he had raised his game.

Meanwhile World number one Ashleigh Barty has won the Stuttgart Open after beating Arnya Salalebka in the final on Sunday. Barty came through 3-6 6-0 6-3 to claim her third WTA title of the year and only her second on clay after winning the French Open in 2019.

Weather

Overcast with rain and moderate to strong north easterly winds. Top temperature 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 15 degrees with rain continuing.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Rain tomorrow. Sunshine and showers on Wednesday. Highs of 15-18 degrees.

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