French and Riviera News.Monday July 20th 2020

Face masks-The wearing of face masks in closed public spaces becomes compulsory today as France attempts to stamp out rising numbers of coronavirus cases around the country.

The reproduction rate ‘R’ is now at 1.5 in the Provence Alps Côte d’Azur and the level is higher than that in some other regions notably Brittany and the Mayenne.

The French Health Minister Olivier Véran says that closed public spaces include banks ,shops and supermarkets.

Fines of 135 euros  will be issued for non compliance with the regulations.

 

Free Testing- The Mayor of Nice ,Christian Estrosi has announced that free mobile coronavirus testing vehicles will be circulating in the city from this week.

With the ‘R’ rate increasing in the region ,Mr Estrosi who’s already had the virus ,wants as many people to be tested as possible.

Mobile testing sites will be up and running on the place Massena ,place Garibaldi and near the train station by Wednesday or Thursday.Test results will be given within 24-48 hours.

Testing of passengers arriving from at risk areas is to start at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in the coming days.

 

Fire-A large fire has swept through an apartment block on the boulevard de la Madeleine in Nice.

Smoke from the fire ,which started in a flat on the second floor of the building was visible from several kilometers away.

The residents have been placed in temporary housing. Fortunately there are no injuries reported.

It took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control.An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.

 

Restaurant warning -Christian Estrosi has warned that any restaurant in Nice that flouts extra terrace space will have the privilege removed.

The Mayor says that some restaurants are abusing the system of allowing them to enlarge outside seating areas to meet social distancing requirements by simply packing more customers in.

Mr Estrosi says that teams of health and safety officials will be visiting restaurants in the coming days and any establishment breaking the rules will have the privilege removed.

 

Pool drowning-A 73 year old man has been found dead in his swimming pool on the chemin du Cros in Trans en Provence.

Authorities were called to the private house by neighbours where the man was dead at the bottom of the pool.

An autopsy is being carried out on the body but death by drowning is almost certainly the cause.

 

Crash- Two people have been injured ,one seriously after a car with three occupants crashed into a bench on which four people were sitting at Six Fours in the Var.

The injured two are both aged 17. The most seriously injured youth was rushed to hospital in Toulon.

Several others received medical treatment for shock. An enquiry is underway to determine the cause of the accident.

The 18 year old driver of the car is being questioned in police custody.

 

Empty vessel- Authorities are searching for the owner of a small boat which sank off the Ile Sainte Marguerite over the weekend.

The 8 meter motorboat was found sinking on Sunday morning and a containment kit was set up around it to prevent oil leaking into the sea.

The owner was nowhere to be found

 

In National News.

 

Arson-A criminal investigation is underway into the cause of a fire at Nantes Cathedral which blew out stained glass windows and destroyed the 15th century organ.

Prosecutors say that three fires were started inside the building on Saturday morning and they’re treating it as a criminal act.

The blaze at the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral was brought under control after several hours and came just over a year after fire destroyed the roof and main spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Fortunately ,the damage to Nantes Cathedral is not as bad as first feared.

The Cathedral has suffered fire damage on two previous occasions and in 1972 its wooden roof was destroyed.

A volunteer worker who closed the building on Friday night has been questioned by police but has now been released without  charge.

 

Watching Spain-The French Prime Minister Jean Castex says that he is watching the coronavirus situation in Spain “very closely” and has not ruled our closing the border again.

Mr Castex was speaking after 400,000 people in Barcelona has fresh restrictions implemented as the Catalonia region fights a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

The Prime Minister said that the situation on the other side of the frontier was “preoccupying” and that he speaking regularly to his Spanish counterpart.

The ‘R’ reproduction rate in south west France has also been increasing in recent days to between 1.4 and 1.5.

 

 

Pension reform delay- Negotiations between the government and trade unions over controversial pension reforms have been shelved until 2021.

The French Prime Minister Jean Castex says that his main priority after the summer holidays will be employment and pensions will have to wait.

The reforms ,which would represent the biggest shakeup to the French pension system since the Second World War are one of President Macron’s flagship policies but have been heavily criticised by trade unions.

The proposed changes which include raising the retirement age by two years to 64 have not been scrapped but could well now be deferred until after the 2022 Presidential elections.

A full reform of unemployment insurance has also been put back until the new year.

 

Business.

 

Wall Street is preparing for what may be the worst earnings season in its history amid a resurgent coronavirus pandemic.

Small-cap firms are expected to post year-on-year earnings declines of around 90 percent as companies report second quarter results over the next few weeks.

Mid-cap firms are forecast to register declines of 67 percent with large-caps down 44 percent.

That would represent the largest drop since the 4th quarter of 2008.

Some investors who had been hoping for a third quarter rebound are now concerned that coronavirus fueled shutdowns will deal a disproportionate hit to small firms which are more directly tied to consumer spending and have been among the biggest beneficiaries of stimulus measures delivered by the Federal Reserve and Congress.

 

The President of Microsoft has said that the world is facing a “staggering” jobs challenge with a quarter of a billion people losing their employment this year.

Brad Smith says that millions will need to learn new skills to get new jobs or even hang on to their old ones.

Microsoft has recently announced plans to deliver jobs and training to 25 million people this year.

The firm will use its LinkedIn platform to deliver training ,skills certification and aid in finding employment but admitted that jobs in many countries would be beyond the reach of digital training.

Mr Smith also said that next to nothing can be solved today without the use of digital technology.

 

 

And-A report in the Observer Newspaper says that British officials privately told the Chinese tech giant Huawei that it was being banned from the country’s 5G network following huge pressure from Donald Trump.

The paper says that in the days leading up to last week’s ban ,intensive discussions were held and confidential communications exchanged between the government and Whitehall officials and Huawei executives.

Huawei was told that geopolitical factors were behind the ban but that the situation could be reversed in future if Mr Trump failed to win a second term in office and anti-China sentiment in  Washington eased.

The decision has prompted criticism that the British government is putting its loyalty behind Donald Trump and his administration which is waging a diplomatic war against China over coronavirus , human rights ,trade ,its stance over Hong Kong and Huawei in the run up to November’s Presidential election.

 

Sport.

 

Cricket-England are in the hunt for victory on the final day of the second Test against West Indies at Old Trafford.

At stumps on day 4 the home side were on 37-2 in their second innings having dismissed West Indies for 287.

Stuart Broad took 3-66 in a late burst to dismiss the West Indies tail and England now lead by 219 heading into the final day.

 

Formula 1-Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish to claim victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes star opened a big lead at the start of the race and never looked back.

Max Verstappen in the Red Bull was second despite a crash on the way to the grid which damaged his front wing and suspension with Valtteri Bottas in  the second Mercedes third.

The win puts Hamilton top of the drivers’ championship with three races gone.

The next race is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July the 31st.

 

Football-The FA Cup final will be between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-0 on Saturday while Chelsea beat Manchester United 3-1 on Sunday.

The final at Wembley will be played on Saturday the 1st of August.

 

There were 2 games in the English Premier League on Sunday. Bournemouth look doomed to relegation  after losing 2-0 at home to Southampton while Spurs were 3-0 winners over Leicester.

 

There are 3 games tonight. Brighton play Newcastle .Sheffield United face Everton and Wolves play Crystal Palace.

 

In the English Championship on Sunday Derby lost 3-1 at home to the champions Leeds United while Barnsley beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 to keep their hopes of remaining in the division alive.

 

Golf-John Rahm of Spain has won the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

Rahm carded a 3 over par 75 in the final round but it was enough to leave him on 9 under ,three shots clear of Ryan Palmer and 4 clear of Matt Fitzpatrick of England.

Rory McIlroy finished on 4 over with Tiger Woods on 6 over.

 

Weather.

 

Mainly fine with light variable winds.

Top temperatures 28-30 degrees.

Overnight lows of 21 degrees on the coast and 18 degrees inland with clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday-Fine in coastal areas ,thundery outbreaks inland tomorrow with unsettled weather in the Alpes-Maritimes on Wednesday. Highs of 26-31 degrees.

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