French and Riviera News Monday 7th December 2020

News 

Testing Covid-19 - The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier has announced the distribution of 100,000 antigen tests in some 1,900 pharmacies in the region. The elected representative calls for the network of pharmacies in the region to screen as much as possible before Christmas. As the French government calls for smaller gatherings over Christmas and New Year, in an attempt to avoid a resumption of the epidemic, Muselier wishes to limit contamination between members of the same family during the festive season by getting as many people tested as possible.

Covid-19 figures - Meanwhile France has exceeded 55,000 deaths from Covid-19. The number of deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours is down at 174 compared to 216 the day before. 11,000 new cases of Covid have been declared in the last 24 hours and the number of patients in intensive care has continued to decline, to 3,210, according to data from Public Health France. However, the figures from Public Health France are not yet those set out by the French President Emmanuel Macron on November 24th in order to lift the lockdown on the 15th December (which is in less than ten days’ time).

Macron had set out two conditions for the lifting of lockdown firstly that the number of daily cases fell to "around 5,000 per day" and secondly that there are "between 2,500 to 3,000 people in intensive care". While the figures are rather encouraging, they are still far from the objective set by the President.

Protests against security law - Paris has seen another weekend of violence after thousands took to the streets on Saturday in protest against the French government’s new security law. Clashes erupted between police and pockets of protesters. The march in Paris was one of 100 planned throughout France on Saturday. The new clashes came after French President Emmanuel Macron had given an online Q&A session aimed at young people, which was seen as an attempt by the President to win credibility with younger generations concerned by recent police brutality.

Macron defended concerns saying that “when you have a skin colour that is not white, you are checked much more by police. You are identified as a problem factor. And that cannot be justified”. His comments however sparked a furious backlash from police unions, who called on officers to stop carrying out ID checks in protest.

Climate change - Researchers say that up to 92% of glaciers in the Alps could be lost by the end of the century due to climate change. The mountain range's 4,000 glaciers include popular skiing resorts such as Zermatt in Switzerland and Tignes in France. The research covers the entire European Alps region and is based on 200 years of climate records and forecasts covering 1901 to 2100. The research found popular skiing destinations could be lost. They also found by 2050 almost all the glaciers below 3,500 metres in the Alps are likely to have melted.

Christmas tree - A Christmas tree has been put up on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice as a tribute to the 86 victims of the Nice attack of July 14th 2016. The pensioner behind the idea didn’t lose a loved one in the attack but told local press that he “felt the need to do something to participate in the memory of those that lost their lives”. Passersby have been invited to decorate the tree which boasts 86 lights, one for each victim. Louis Baudoin says he hopes that the idea will motivate the 360 mayors of France to also put a tree in front of their town halls for all terror attacks throughout the world, concluding that “maybe the idea could become a worldwide action”.

Monaco Telecom - In a move improving both safety and reliability for its customers, Monaco telecom has received certification from Certi-Trust, guaranteeing the security of customer data and backup services in the event of an incident. The recognition is essential in providing a better guarantee of security for customers. Managing director Martin Peronnet said “We owe it to our customers in Monaco. The Principality's digital transformation and its digital economy can now rely on infrastructures which meet the highest international standards”.

Largest pharmacy in Europe - The largest pharmacy in Europe is to open its doors in Cap 3000 today. The shopping centre in Saint-Laurent du Var will welcome the 2,500m² space making it the largest in Europe.

The resilient Riviera property market - With 2020 transaction levels higher than expected and strong demand for spring property, International Real Estate agents Savills are looking ahead and taking encouragement from the resilience of the Riviera property market. Savills lastest research* shows buyer sentiment remains strong with transquility, space, proximity to transport hubs and home working facilities topping the list for buyers in the year ahead. The International property agents report that whilst coastal property remains in high demand, countryside locations are proving popular with locations such as Valbonne, Mougins and Grasse being requested from both local and international buyers who are as keen as ever to profit from the countryside air, lifestyle and amenities on offer. *Savills France, Office FiT Survey 2020.  

Business

Post Brexit trade talks have been taking place in Brussels with both sides striving for an agreement amid mixed signals from the parties. In what’s being seen as a final roll of the dice before the Brexit transition period ends on the 1st of January, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord David Frost met all day on Sunday but it’s understood that differences remain on fishing rights, competition rules and consensus on how any deal would be enforced. The British Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak by telephone again later today as they did on Saturday. Both sides have stressed that they want a deal but not at any cost. Diplomats from the Republic of Ireland are keen for a deal to be done given the nature of the country’s close relationship with and proximity to the United Kingdom. On Sunday, the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that he felt that a deal was more likely as it is in everybody’s interest. He added that reports that the EU had hardened its negotiating stance at the request of France were “inaccurate”.

Reports in several German newspapers have said that Lufthansa will have axed 29,000 staff by the end of the year with plans to shed a further 10,000 in 2021. The news is the latest evidence of the struggle being faced by airlines around the world with flights cut, passenger numbers falling off a cliff and profits slashed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Air travel is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025 with total staff numbers at Lufthansa reduced to 109,000 workers following the sale of its catering unit LSG and cuts at its budget subsidiaries Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines. Lufthansa has already burned through 3 billion euros of the 9 billion euro German government bailout that it secured earlier this year.

Retailers are hoping for a much needed boost from Cyber Monday today with estimates of sales in the United States alone topping 11.4 billion dollars alone. With the coronavirus pandemic raging, consumers are turning in larger and larger numbers to the internet for their festive shopping needs. The numbers this year are expected to eclipse 2019’s 9.4 billion dollars in Cyber Monday sales as well as the 9 billion generated on Black Friday this year. Record breaking e-commerce sales are expected to continue from now until Christmas with top selling items including televisions, Apple products and games consoles.

Sport

Football - There were 4 games in the English Premier League on Monday with Spurs returning to the top of the table following a 2-0 win over Arsneal. Liverpool are in second place on goal difference after a 4-0 win over Wolves at Anfield and in the other games, West Brom went down to a 5-1 home thrashing at hands of Crystal Palace and Sheffield United lost 2-1 at home to Leicester. There’s one game tonight. Brighton play Southampton.

In the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, Rangers were 4-0 winners at Ross County while Celtic shared a 1-1 draw against St Johnstone.

Rugby Union - England have won the autumn nations cup following a tight 22-19 victory over France at Twickenham. Owen Farrell kicked a winning sudden death penalty after an understrength France side had taken the hosts all the way. Farrell’s kicking had been uncharacteristically wayward during the match and his side had needed a last minute try from Luke Cowan Dickie to take the game into sudden death.

Formula 1 - Sergio Perez in the Racing Point has won the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after a pit stop error and a late puncture put paid to George Russell’s hopes of a maiden victory. Russell was driving for Mercedes in the absence of Lewis Hamilton and he was on his way to a famous victory before a late safety car and he went into the pits for an unnecessary tyre change. A mix up saw the team put the wrong tyres on his car and he had to stop again to fit a correct set. The confusion put him down to 5th and then a puncture as he was chasing down Perez put paid to his chances. Estaban Ocon in the Renault finished second with Lance Stroll in the second Racing Point in third.

Cricket - England’s tour of South Africa appears to be over after today’s one day international was postponed. Two unnamed players in the England party have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 and management are waiting for independent confirmation. Games on Friday and yesterday were also called off after a positive test in the South Africa camp.

Golf - Tributes have been paid to the BBC golf commentator and former player Peter Alliss who’s died at the age of 89. Alliss was known as the “voice of golf” to fans around the world and he’d been commentating for the BBC for more than half a century. He was made lead commentator after retiring as a player in 1978 and most recently commentated at the US Masters just a month ago. In 2012 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the lifetime achievement category.

Weather

Clouding over with rain forecast this evening and moderate westerly winds. Top temperature 11 degrees, that’s 52 Fahrenheit. Overnight lows of 8 degrees on the coast and 5 degrees inland with outbreaks of rain.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Sunshine and possible showers tomorrow, fine on Wednesday. Highs of 10-12 degrees.

And finally

Recently uncovered notes reveal that Isaac Newton attempted to uncover the secrets of the pyramids in Egypt while proving his theory of gravity. The unpublished notes, thought to have been written in the 1680s and only discovered 200 years after Newton's death, are now being sold by Sotheby's and are expected to go for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Bidding closes on Tuesday. 

Newton, who studied the pyramids in the late 17th century, believed that finding out how the pyramids were made would unlock other secrets about the world. He was desperately trying to work out the unit of measurement the ancient Egyptians used while making the pyramids. Newton believed the Egyptians had been able to measure the Earth and believed that if he found how they had measured the pyramids, he would also be able to measure the world's circumference. The notes appear burnt around the edges, which allegedly happened after his dog, Diamond, jumped on to a table and tipped over a candle. 

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