New Covid-19 restrictions - The government is set to announce tighter Covid-19 restrictions for Nice and the Alpes Maritimes in a bid to reduce spiralling numbers of new cases of the virus. Among the measures being reported are a weekend lockdown across the department over the next two weeks and the compulsory wearing of facemasks in all areas. Residents may also face travel restrictions of 100 kilometres from their home address and there may be further limits on shop openings and large commercial centres.
The news comes as the Alpes-Maritimes continues to register the highest coronavirus infection rate anywhere in France with 587 cases per 100,000 residents. In Nice, the figure is alarmingly higher at more than 700 cases per 100,000 residents and the virus said to be spreading “out of control” in areas such as l’Ariane district. Speaking in Bordeaux over the weekend, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that now was not the moment to “abandon responsibility”. He said that so far, a new national lockdown had been avoided but that the situation remains “fragile”.
The isolation period for people contracting the virus has been increased from 7-10 days because of the rapid spread of new variants and the curfew is to remain in force from 6pm until 6am until “further notice”. New infections have remained relatively stable at around 24,000 daily while more than 25,000 people are still receiving hospital treatment with 3,300 requiring mechanical ventilation.
Monaco - The Covid-19 curfew measures in Monaco have been extended until the 19th of March. New cases of the virus are falling but authorities in the Principality say that a great effort is still required to break the chain of infections adding that tougher measures could be imposed if the situation worsens. The curfew is in force from 7pm until 6am. Restaurants are only open at lunchtime and resisted to residents, workers and Monaco students and a reservation is required. Working from home for private firms is still required to drive down the numbers of people entering the Principality daily while maintaining economic activity and a negative PCR test must be presented by anyone coming into Monaco for more than 24 hours with the exception of frontier workers, students or residents of the Alpes-Maritimes.
Curfew controls - Gendarmes across the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var have been increasing controls during the hours of curfew to check whether anyone on the roads or streets has a valid reason to be out. A number of checkpoints have been set up at busy motorway and road intersections and spot checks have been carried out on the streets of Nice and other towns across the region. A number of fines of 135 euros have been handed out for people not meeting the requirements to be out in public between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Curfew restrictions will remain in force for the time being with tougher rules for the Alpes-Maritimes and Nice in particular as a result of spiraling cases of coronavirus.
PPDA - The former television news presenter Patrick Poivre d’Arvor has said that he’s “shocked” after being accused of aggravated rape by the writer Florence Porcel. Prosecutors in Nanterre have opened a preliminary investigation into Mr Poivre d’Arvor who was the face of TF1 television news for many years. The offences are alleged to have taken place at TF1 offices at Boulogne-Billancourt in the Hauts-de-Seine in 2004 and at a Paris production house in 2009. Mr Poivre d’Arvor denies the allegations which Florence Porcel has revealed in a book which was published last month. His lawyer says that she’s seeking to promote the publication.
Car thefts - A survey of insurers has found that the Citroen DS, Renault Megane and Renault Clio were the most stolen cars in France last year. Car theft fell by 13 percent in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns but the DS7 Crossback received the most attention from thieves with 194 thefts per 10,000 owners. The Megane RS was also heavily targeted at 179 thefts per 10,000 owners while the Renault Clio 4 was also popular with crooks. Many of the thefts took place using cloned electronic keys. The figures were based on sales of 164 different models with 14 insurance companies and 20 million motorists surveyed.
Illegal rave - Gendarmes have prevented some 200 people from attending an illegal rave party which was due to be held on the Mont Chauve north of Nice over the weekend. Sound equipment was seized and a number of fines issued for breaking curfew restrictions in coordinated police action in a triangle in the areas between Nice, Sospel and Falicon. Gendarmes say that around 500 people had been intending to attend the free party on Saturday night but that the successful preventive measures stopped it from going ahead.
Moto-No-go - Several thousand motorcyclists have protested in Nice and other cities around France in protest over new legislation which bans riders from passing in between lanes of traffic. The new laws mean that motorcyclists can be fined 135 euros and lose 3 points from their license if they’re caught riding in between cars. Until now, the practice has been largely tolerated and the government ordered a 5-year trial period in 2016 to evaluate the effects on road safety. With the trial period now over, no clear evidence has emerged and riding between lines of traffic has now been banned. The latest road accident statistics show that motorcyclists were involved in 23.1 percent of all fatalities in 2019 although the number of all two wheeled vehicles on the roads accounts for just 2 percent of all French road traffic.
Valbonne Trash - 50 volunteers have removed 300 kilos of litter and illegally dumped waste from the Valbonne area over the weekend. Volunteers from the Project Rescue Ocean organisation took part in the clear up which was focused on the Haut-Sartoux area over several days. The clean up has made a noticeable difference on the place Bermond, rue Henri Bosco, route des Dolines and the parc des Bouillides and involved volunteers from as far away as Grasse. The most common items of discarded rubbish were cans, plastic and glass bottles and fast-food wrappings but a number of larger items including ski poles, oil jerrycans and old shoes were also removed. Anyone wishing to volunteer can go to www.projectrescueocean.org. There is a fee of 20 euros for joining.
Rising US Treasury yields may cause a new threat to sky-high stock valuations according to a report by Reuters. So far, Wall Street has digested a surge in yields but some investors are concerned that markets may now start to give up record gains. The yield on the 10 year benchmark treasury note hit a one year high of 1.36 percent last week, fueled by expectations that progress in vaccination programmes and further fiscal stimulus will spur economic growth. Reuters says that so far, rising yields have caused “little more than a wobble” in financial markets but there are concerns that a continued rise in treasuries, which are backed by the US government could tarnish the appeal of comparatively riskier assets such as equities and weigh on the S&P which has risen by 73 percent since last March.
A report in the Sunday Times newspaper has said that the UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is set to raise business taxes to pay for an extension to Covid-19 support schemes. The newspaper says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce in his budget next month that he intends to increase corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound to 23 pence by the time of the next general election. The move will raise an estimated 1.2 billion pounds a year. The report says that at least one pence will be added to corporation tax from the autumn of this year at a cost to business of 3 billion pounds with further increases in subsequent years. The move is set to anger the business community with many small and medium sized firms already suffering through a combination of Covid-19 restrictions and post-Brexit trading arrangements with Europe. Mr Sunak appears to be unwilling to pass the tax burden on to employees following heavy criticism of the Conservative government’s austerity policies in the years following the financial crisis of 2008.
A report in the Sunday Telegraph has suggested that the British government is planning to restrict imports of mineral water and several food products from Europe in retaliation for the EU’s refusal to end its blockade on UK shellfish exports. The paper says that senior British government officials have pointed to potential restrictions in a bid to get the EU to soften its stance on UK seafood products. Tensions have been rising between the two sides since the start of the year following the end of the transition period marking the UK’s final exit from the Single Market and Customs Union. UK exporters of live shellfish have been particularly hard hit with previously lucrative European markets now out of reach.
Tennis - Novak Djokovic has won his 9th Australian Open title with a comprehensive straight sets victory over Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne. The world number one was in imperious form as he beat his Russian opponent 7-5 6-2 6-2. It was the Serb’s 18th Grand Slam title, putting him just two behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the men’s record books.
The women’s final on Saturday was won by Naomi Osaka who best Jennifer Brady of the United States in straight sets to secure her 4th Grand Slam title.
Football - There were 4 games in the English Premier League on Sunday with West Ham moving up to 4th on the back of a 2-1 win over London rivals Spurs. Manchester City maintained their 10 point lead at the top thanks to a 1-0 away win at Arsenal while Manchester United stay second following a 3-1 win over Newcastle. Leicester remain in third place on the back of a 2-1 win at Aston Villa. There’s one game tonight. Brighton play Crystal Palace.
In the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, Rangers beat Dundee United 4-1 and Ross County beat Celtic 1-0.
Rugby Union - The England coach Eddie Jones says that he called the new Wales sensation Louis Rees-Zammit with a view to persuading him to play for the national side. The 20-year-old Gloucester wing could have qualified for England through a 5-year residency but Jones says that he was always set on Wales. Wales will win the Triple Crown if they beat England in the 6 Nations in Cardiff this weekend and Rees-Zammit’s explosive finishing has played a big part in their success so far in this year’s tournament.
There was one game in the Gallagher Premiership in England on Sunday. London Irish drew 34-34 with top of the table Bristol.
Golf - Max Homa of the United States has beaten Tony Finau in a playoff to win the Genesis Invitational. The 30-year-old won at the second extra hole after both players had finished on 12 under par. It was only Homa’s second victory on the PGA Tour. Another American, Sam Burns finished third on 11 under after leading from day 1.
Partially cloudy with strong south easterly winds across the region gusting at up to 85 km/h. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 12 degrees with partially cloudy skies.
Tuesday and Wednesday - Clear skies with highs of 15-17 degrees.