French and Riviera News Thursday 11th March 2021

News 

Weekend lockdown - Following the announcement by the French government on Wednesday that the Alpes Maritimes is to return to lockdown this weekend as an “extension” in the measure put in place two weeks ago in the fight against Covid, the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has called for the arrival of the Paris-Nice cycling race to be modified.

While government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that the situation will be reviewed "next week" to "be able to consider lifting the measure" the mayor however who had previously aired his opposition to a third weekend lockdown, has called for outings for physical activity to be extended from one hour to three, an acceleration of the vaccination in the region as well as a modification to the arrival of the Paris Nice cycling race which was due to be take place on the Promenade des Anglais.

Mayor of Antibes disappointed by the decision which he considers to be political - Meanwhile the mayor of Antibes Jean Leonetti, has said he is disappointed by the decision adding that “while he is not surprised he considers that the measure is a "political" one adding that “the government asks us for our opinion and then refused to listen”. For Leonetti, to fight the epidemic it’s necessary "to continue to massively vaccinate and carry out tests” avoiding having to use measure of the Middle ages such as partial or total lockdown”.

Covid figures - The latest figures for Covid in France have shown that the number of patients in intensive care has started to stabilize 3,918 patients are currently in intensive care as reported over the last few days the figure is at its highest since mid-November.

24,969 patients are currently hospitalized across France and there were 266 additional deaths in the last 24 hours that’s according to data from Public Health France on Wednesday 10th March. 4,164,418 French people have received at least one dose of vaccine to date. And 2,032,791 people are completely vaccinated, that is, to say that they have been given both doses. A press conference in the presence of France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran on the health situation will take place today Thursday 11th March.

Monaco Covid cases – In Monaco, 14 new cases of Covid were identified on Wednesday bringing the total number of residents affected since the start of the pandemic to 2,062. 36 people are currently hospitalized and 73 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

British variant of Covid - According to an English study published on Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ, which confirms initial observations made at the end of January, the British Covid variant is not only more contagious but also 64% more deadly than the classic coronavirus. For 1,000 cases detected, the British variant causes 4.1 deaths, against 2.5 for the classic coronavirus, the authors conclude from the universities of Exeter and Bristol.

Several studies have shown that the vaccines remain effective against the British variant. On the other hand, other variants, such as those first detected in South Africa or Brazil, could pose more problems. In addition, the prospect of the emergence of new vaccine-resistant variants worries scientists.

In other news

Poll assesses the French perception of Marine Le Pen - A new poll "L'opinion en direct", carried out by the Elabe institute and published this morning, which wanted to assess the perception that the French have of Marine Le Pen leader of the National Rally in France has shown that nearly one in two French people believe that a victory in 2022 is possible, and 36% of voters say that they could "probably" vote in favour of it with 17% of French saying it is "quite probable". The odds of a victory for Marine Le Pen in the presidential election are rising among the population. 48% of French people (up 7 points in six months) see it as "probable" and 5% as "certain". The poll reveals that the French give Marine Le Pen the advantage over the current government in three areas: immigration, security, discrimination and violence against women.

Climate change - John Kerry has visited Paris as part of a trip to relaunch the US commitment in the fight against climate change. Kerry said at a news conference in Paris with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire that "developed countries, which emit the majority of the world's greenhouse gases, have every capacity to meet the challenge posed by climate change”. His visit comes in the wake of US President Joe Biden's decision to rejoin the global effort to curb climate change. Finance minister Le Maire said France was "very happy" about the U.S. decision, telling reporters that climate issues are the "main challenge of our generation and future generations”. The 2015 Paris climate accord commits countries to put forward plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Weather warning for the north of France - Météo France has placed the North of France and the Pas-de-Calais on an orange weather alert due to strong winds forecast today. Gusts are expected to reach up to 110 km / h inland with the difficult conditions expected to continue until Saturday.

High speed rail link between Marseille and Nice - A debate is underway until April 15th to decide on the new rail line in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur with those in favour doing everything possible to “prevent the project from going off the rails”. The project of a high-speed rail link between Marseille and Nice has been subject to thirty years of debates and studies and four projects have already failed to see the light. It started in the 90s when LGV Méditerranée put forward a proposition to the town council of Le Muy in the Var. The saturation of the historic line which dates back to 1860 is a reality and the public debate so far considers that it is necessary. However, the ongoing problem would appear to be the question as to which towns the line would pass through. 

Art exhibition - Two artists who had to flee Iran and Syria have exhibited artwork related to their experience in Nice. The Depardieu gallery in Nice has put on the exhibition entitled Shadows of Men which looks at work from the two artists who were threatened with death in their country, one for homosexuality, the other because of the war. “Two destinies and two visions” the exhibition is on until April 3rd at the Depardieu gallery, open from Monday to Saturday from 2.30pm to 6.30pm, admission is free.

Business

President Biden’s 1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package has cleared its final hurdle in Congress although no Republicans voted in favour. The House of Representatives rubber stamped the bill on Wednesday with 220 voting for and 211 against. The bill will now pass to the White House for Mr Biden to sign it into law. The President said that the bill is about “giving the backbone of the nation such as essential workers, the working people and the people who keep the country going a fighting chance”. He’s also vowed to share any surplus Covid-19 vaccines globally after ensuring that Americans are immunised. The final bill, which is expected to be signed by Mr Biden on Friday will include direct one-off payments of 1,400 dollars to most Americans. It will also extend weekly unemployment benefit payments of 300 dollars until September and allocate 350 billion dollars to state and local governments. 150 billion will be put towards getting schools reopened with 49 billion for expanded coronavirus testing and research and 14 billion for vaccine distribution. A proposal to raise the national minimum wage from 7 dollars 25 to 15 dollars per hour did not make it into the final version of the bill. Republicans say that the bill is “wasteful” and does not tackle important elements of the effect of the pandemic.

Warren Buffett’s net worth has hit 100 billion dollars after investors drove the stock price of his Berkshire Hathaway investment firm to a record level on Wednesday. Mr Buffett’s net worth comes almost entirely from his one-sixth ownership of Berkshire which is valued at 600 billion dollars. The firm’s share price has surged this month with its class A shares valued at more than 400 billion dollars on Wednesday. In February Berkshire Hathaway said that its 4th quarter operating profits improved despite the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Buffet’s net worth would be even higher if he hadn’t started donating his Berkshire shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 2006. He previously owned a third of Berkshire and his donations have totalled more than 37 billion dollars.

HSBC is to phase out its support for the coal industry in the developed world by the end of the decade and in the developing world by 2040 bowing to pressure from investors to toughen its stance on fossil fuel financing. Investors holding some 2.4 trillion dollars in assets signed a resolution earlier this year that would bind the bank to stronger commitments in fighting climate change. The development will set new goals for Europe’s largest bank including short and medium term targets on aligning its financing with the objectives of the Paris Climate Accord. It’s the latest in a series of decisions taken by the world’s largest financial firms as they bow to mounting pressure to join the fight against climate change  by reducing their funding of fossil fuel companies.

Sport

Football - Liverpool are through to the last 8 of the Champions League thanks to a 2-0 win on the night against RB Leipzig which takes them through 4-0 on aggregate. In the other tie, not even a wonder-goal from Lionel Messi could prevent Barcelona from going out. 1-1 on the night against PSG in Paris with the French side moving into the quarter finals 5-2 on aggregate.

Round of 16 ties in the Europa League are being played tonight with Manchester United against AC Milan, Arsenal away at Olympiakos and Spurs at home to Dinamo Zagreb.

The new Scottish champions Rangers visit Slavia Prague.

There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Leaders Manchester City beat Southampton 5-2.

In the English Championship, promotion chasing Brentford’s form continues to falter as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Derby.

Formula 1 - Ferrari have unveiled their car for the 2021 season, hoping to close the gap at the top of the field after a disappointing 2020. Team boss Mattia Binotto says that Ferrari “can’t afford” another bad season after they put in their worst performance in 40 years in 2020. The team has been working to improve the car’s speed on the straight which severely hampered their chances last season and have looked for extra performance from the rear. The rear bodywork on the new car is noticeably narrower and cut away more deeply in a quest to get better airflow to the rear of the vehicle to provide greater and more efficient aerodynamic downforce. Pre-season testing starts in Bahrain tomorrow.

Golf - The so called 5th Major, the Players Championship starts in Sawgrass, Florida today with the PGA Tour throwing a curved ball to big hitting Bryson DeChambeau. The US Open champion had been talking about hitting the ball to the left of the water onto the 9th fairway en-route to the 18th rather than following the natural path of the hole. The PGA Tour has outlawed the idea saying that it would put the safety of spectators at risk. The shot has already been hit by the teenager Jeevan Sihota at the 2020 Junior Players Championship but the PGA Tour says it’s now out of bounds.

Tennis - Roger Federer has won his first competitive match since his return from a 14 month layoff with victory over Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open. The 39-year-old won 7-6 2-6 7-5 to reach the quarter finals. He said that it was good to be back but he did feel tired afterwards.

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate south westerly winds across the Var. Top temperature 16-18 degrees. Overnight lows of 11-13 degrees with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Mainly fine with highs of 16-18 degrees.

And Finally

Beep beep'm beep beep yeah! - Ever been attracted to a fellow motorist while waiting for the lights to change? The Carimmat app allows motorists to hook up using their number plates. In just one click the app allows you to find the person given that they too are subscribed to the app. It works for all vehicles from motorbikes to lorries and also pedestrians who spot someone driving. The app created in the south of France in 2019 counts several hundred thousand users and is the first to offer this service in three languages French English and Spanish. How does it work? It allows the user to make contact each day using 3 free credits (made available to the user) allowing them to contact 3 other users. And the app doesn’t only help to find love but can also be useful for finding a person in the event of an accident and selling vehicles.

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