French and Riviera News Monday 29th March 2021

News 

Health crisis - A decisive week lies ahead for France concerning the Covid health crisis. Speaking to French media on Sunday, infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido, has said that the situation in hospitals is critical. The infectious disease specialist fears hospitals soon having to "choose which patients to treat". While the outbreak of a third wave of Covid in France worries the medical world, which calls for stricter measures, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated, in the Journal du Dimanche, that "nothing is decided" concerning possible stricter measures and the closure of schools. A defense council is to be held on Wednesday 31st March to decide on a possible toughening of the measures depending on the situation.

Incidence rate - According to Public Health France, the incidence rate has increased sharply in the Alpes-Maritimes department standing at 453 on Sunday compared to 432 on Saturday and 404 last Monday March 22nd. In the Alpes Maritimes the British variant represents 89% of contaminations. Meanwhile Strasbourg University Hospital Center has alerted the Regional Health Agency a new variant of Covid-19 in Alsace.

National figures for Covid - National figures for France published on Sunday show that nearly 4,900 patients are currently in intensive care almost reaching the peak of the second wave last November. 27,712 people are hospitalized including 1,017 new admissions in the last 24 hours. 131 patients died in hospital on Sunday from the coronavirus, compared to 194 the day before.

AstraZeneca - Meanwhile France will recover at least two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a stock of 29 million recently discovered in Italy. The doses were discovered during an inspection carried out at a site of the Swedish-British pharmaceutical group.

Spain introduces PCR Covid test at border - Spain is set to require from tomorrow Tuesday 30th March, a negative PCR Covid test taken within 72 hours for anyone crossing the land border from France. The measure affects anyone aged 7 and over and comes amid Spain ramping up Covid restrictions. Only those working in transportation and cross-border workers will be exempt, along with those who live in the border zone as long as they remain within a 30-kilometre radius of their home.

In other news 

Climate change - Thousands of people have demonstrated across France to demand "real climate legislation". Some 180 demonstrations took place in several cities ahead of a meeting by parliament to discuss a legal text to tackle climate change. The law to be discussed by parliament aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

Air France - Air France employees have demonstrated against the closure of bases in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. The group's management confirmed that it was studying "the closure of its provincial bases for its flight personnel as part of the restructuring of its domestic network". 80 Air France employees demonstrated on Sunday March 28th at Marseille-Provence airport (Bouches-du-Rhône) against the management's plan to close the bases in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. Both the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi and local MP Eric Ciotti have criticised the move indicating their intention to “defend the employees and avoid closure”. The Air France group lost 7.1 billion euros in 2020 due to the Covid crisis with a collapse of 59% of its turnover compared to 2019.

Village evacuated due to fire - The village of Saumane, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, has been completely evacuated due to a fire. The fire started around 2pm on Sunday in two agricultural sheds. The hangars house toxic products leading to the village being completely evacuated, including a flock of sheep. 65 firefighters were at the scene.

Prefect calls on an end to non-essential good being sold outside of shops - The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has reportedly called on an end to allowing non-essential shops to sell their goods in front of their stores. Last week several town council’s including Cannes, Antibes and Menton, authorized local “non-essential” businesses to offer their services and goods directly in front of their shop.

Cultural programme - The City of Nice has launched a call for projects for its artistic and cultural programme for the summer of 2021. It is inviting local artists, associations and professionals in the event, entertainment, culture and heritage areas to present projects and activities that will be held in the city's public spaces. They will be offered to the public free of charge, but funding will be granted by the City of Nice for successful projects. The call for applications is open until midnight on April 25th.

First female referee for men’s World Cup - France’s Stéphanie Frappart has become the first woman to referee a men's World Cup qualifier, overseeing the Netherlands' 2-0 win over Latvia in Amsterdam on Saturday. The match was another milestone for the referee, who in December became the first female official to take charge of a men's Champions League match. The 37-year-old was also the first woman to referee in for the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea and made her Europa League debut in October.

Business

Reports say that the giant Ever Given container ship which has been blocking the Suez Canal for the past 5 days has been refloated. A fleet of tugs has managed to dislodge the ship after clearing a mass of rock and sand to a depth of 18 meters under the vessel. As of Sunday there were 369 ships stuck in a tailback waiting to pass through the 193 km canal on each side of the blockage. Around 12% of global trade, around 1 million barrels of oil and roughly 8% of liquefied natural gas passes through the canal each day. The canal’s revenues have been taking a $14-$15 million hit for each day that the blockage continued. Lloyds list says that the stranded ship is holding up an estimated $9.6 billion of trade along the waterway each day or some $400 million and 3.3 million tons of cargo an hour.

Oil prices have fallen slightly this morning as efforts continue to dig out the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal. Brent crude was down by 0.3% a little earlier this morning at $64.39 with West Texas Intermediate down by 0.4% to $60.75. On Friday prices rose by more than 4% capping a week of wild swings as traders and investors tried to weigh the impact of the blockage and the broader effects of lockdowns to stop coronavirus infections. Prices are getting some support from expectations that OPEC and its allies will maintain lower output levels when they meet this week.

The UK government has rejected a request for a £170 million financial support package for Liberty Steel. The firm’s founder Sanjeev Gupta Sent a letter to the government last week asking for help to pay day to day operating expenses and absorb recent losses. Liberty’s owner GFG employs 5000 staff at its 12 UK sites including Rotherham, Motherwell and Newport. Earlier this month GFG’s key financial backer Greensill Capital filed for insolvency. Government sources say they have concerns about the opaque nature of Mr Gupta‘s empire which employs 35,000 people worldwide. The government said that any assistance was more likely to come following an administration process to support UK jobs as opposed to the corporate entity that owns it. The rejection of the loan request puts further pressure on Liberty and 5000 jobs.

Sport

Formula One – Lewis Hamilton held off Max Verstappen in a thrilling finish to the opening Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain on Sunday. Verstappen actually took the lead from Hamilton with four laps to go but was forced to hand the position back because he’d overtaken by running off the track. The move, which was ordered by Race Control, cost the Red Bull driver victory and he never quite got close enough again to challenge Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes ended third with Lando Norris capping a great weekend for McLaren by finishing 4th. The Ferraris ended six and eight respectively and were way off the pace of the front runners. The next race is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on April the 18th.

Football – There were several European World Cup qualifiers on Sunday with England winning two nil in Albania. In other results Scotland were held to a one all draw in Israel while France were two nil winners in Kazakhstan.

Cricket – India have wrapped up the one day series against England with victory in the third match. India made 329 all out from 48.2 overs. In reply England looked dead and buried at 200–7 before Sam Curran made 95 not out to take them within a whisker of victory. England ended on 322–9 from 50 overs handing India a seven run win and a 2-1 series victory.

Rugby Union – There was one game in the Gallagher premiership in England on Sunday. Leicester beat Newcastle 26–12.

In the Guinness pro 14 Dragons beat Edinburgh 24–17.

Golf – Billy Horschel beat fellow American Scottie Scheffler to win the WGC matchplay in Austin, Texas. Scheffler won the second hole but Horschel chipped in to win the fifth and was two ahead by the ninth. Eight holes on the back nine were halved with Horschel parring  the 17th to win.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 18-19 degrees. Overnight lows of 10-11 degrees with clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Clear skies with highs of 19-22 degrees.

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