French and Riviera News Thursday 12th November 2020

News

Covid-19 – France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex will this evening “take stock” of the Covid-19 epidemic during a press conference at 6pm. The Prime Minister will assess the current lockdown while announcing enhanced controls over the next two weeks. The head of government is expected to discuss the latest figures of the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as take stock of teleworking, transport and support for small retail businesses. Concerning high schools, the Education Minister has pleaded with the government for them to remain open.

The lockdown was introduced almost two weeks ago and according to the latest figures published by Public Health France the peak of contaminations of the second wave has been crossed with the reproduction rate of the virus being less than 1 for the first time since July 1st. The positivity test rate has also been falling along with the incidence rate among all age groups, except among children with the contamination rate per 100,000 people on the rise, which perhaps raises the question of the closure of schools.

While the figures show that France has passed the peak of contaminations, this is not yet the case for hospitalisations as it takes several days before an infected person develops severe forms of the disease and is hospitalised. The pressure therefore remains on hospitals with hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care continuing to rise.

Mayor of Nice calls for curfew - Meanwhile the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has called for the establishment of a national curfew from 8pm to 6am. He said that this should be in addition to current lockdown measures in order to limit "social interaction". He also announced more police checks over the coming weeks. Estrosi also said that from today the blue chairs on the Promenade will be removed, a security perimeter will be established around the Liberation market and a special time for the elderly to safely circulate in public gardens and parks will be introduced from 2pm to 4pm.

OGC Nice - Local football club OGC Nice has closed its training centre until further notice because of a coronavirus outbreak. The club said that more than a dozen players and members of the professional squad's backroom team have tested positive for COVID-19 and as a result it has closed the Academy and the first-team squad's area of the premises. Reopening is planned for the start of next week after more tests.

Masks are washable - The UFC-Que Choisir in France has said that surgical masks are machine washable. The consumer association has tested three models and found that they retain their filtration power after ten machine washes at 60 °C.

Nice Knife attack man seeks “justice” - An armed man has been stopped by police at the Begin Hospital in the Val-de-Marne in the Paris region after reportedly attempting to carry out "justice" by killing the perpetrator of the Nice knife attack Brahim A, who is currently at the hospital. Brahim A was moved to the Parisian hospital on November 6th following a demand from local MP Eric Ciotti. Brahim A carried out the knife attack at the Notre Dame church in Nice on October 29th killing three people. He was shot several times by police and was taken to hospital in Nice where he later tested positive for Covid-19.

Sarkozy case - The Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine has decided to withdraw his charges against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the case of the Libyan financing of his presidential campaign in 2007. On Wednesday in a video unveiled by French media, the main accuser of the former president assures "loud and clear" to have been manipulated by the former judge of instruction in charge of the file. Despite the sudden turnaround, Lebanon and France are not bound by "any agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters". Meanwhile Nicolas Sarkozy has called for his "dismissal in the examination" immediately welcoming the news saying, “the truth is finally coming out”.

Marine Le Pen does not recognise Joe Biden’s victory - French far right leader Marine Le Pen has said that she “absolutely does not" recognise Joe Biden's US presidential election victory – arguing that “justice must be allowed to decide”. The leader of the National Rally political party said that she is "among those who will not congratulate the future president of the United States, because she doesn’t consider the game to be over”. While many world leaders were quick to congratulate Biden when the results of the US presidential election were announced on Saturday, others – including the presidents of Russia, China and Brazil – have remained silent as Trump continues to allege the vote was rigged.

Matchstick model - A 68-year-old French man who has spent 22 years of his life living opposite the Prince’s Palace of Monaco has completed a matchstick model of the palace including every fine detail. Retired Gerard Guttin used 32,500 match sticks and 200 tubes of glue. Guttin started the project four years ago but made the most of the last lockdown to complete his masterpiece. He now plans to sell the model to raise money for charity as he wonders what will be or rather, which future building will be his next challenge! Congratulations!

Teddy bears - The owner of several restaurants in Rennes has decided to spread a little happiness in these sad and difficult times by inviting teddy bears to his establishments in the city. Closed due to lockdown, Bertrand Saint-Yves purchased 50 large teddy bears and placed them in three of his restaurants. Speaking to local media he said, "it's to spread a little joy and lighten up the windows of closed restaurants, especially for children who are missing out on the Christmas window displays". One passerby, a retired local said "it makes you want to go in and join them". And it’s all for a good cause as the owner plans to donate the bears to a children’s charity in time for Christmas.

Diamonds are forever - An exceptional pink diamond discovered in Russia has been sold at auction on Wednesday in Geneva for 22.58 million euros. The diamond is the largest of its kind to ever be auctioned. The buyer wished to remain anonymous and bid over the phone.

Business

Luxury brands have helped China’s largest annual shopping spree to break records once again. Firms including Prada took part in the online bonanza for Singles Day or Double 11, joining more than 200 luxury brands in the event, more than double the number of last year. Singles Day was created by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba with the annual sale racking up a total of more than 74 billion dollars this year. The event is being seen as a gauge of China’s economic health as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. On the negative side, Alibaba and other Chinese internet giant have been told this week that they’re facing fresh anti-trust regulations by the Beijing government aimed at curbing their powers. Shares in Alibaba fell by nearly 10 percent on the news.

Asian shares have risen to near two-year highs today buoyed by sustained global stimulus efforts and hopes of a coronavirus vaccine. Crude oil futures have risen to 2-month highs on optimism over a vaccine as well as a larger-than-expected reduction in US crude stockpiles. The gains in Asia came following a mixed session on Wall Street as investors switched back to technology stocks. Analysts say that markets are waiting for more news about the virus so that its difficult for investors to short equities. Expectations are for a sustained period on the upside for equities of maybe a few weeks but there are still big questions to be answered about the effectiveness of a vaccine as well as future US fiscal policy.

In the UK, research by the debt charity Stepchange has warned that Britain is “sleepwalking into a debt crisis”. The warning comes following a steep-rise in emergency borrowing by low and middle income households to cope with the Covid-19 jobs crisis. Stepchange says that household borrowing and arrears linked to the pandemic have soared by 66 percent since May to 10.3 billion pounds. The number of people who are in severe debt has risen to 1.2 million with a further 3 million at risk of falling into arrears after taking on extra short-term loans. The charity says that a spiralling number of people are being plunged into debt and the worst is yet to come.

Sport 

Golf - The 84th Masters starts at the Augusta National later today with conditions set to be very different from its usual April date. The Masters has been delayed until November because of the coronavirus pandemic. Players will start on the 1st and 10th tees tomorrow and on Friday to ensure that everyone can complete their rounds before darkness. The defending champion Tiger Woods will play with the 2019 Open winner Shane Lowry in the opening two rounds. The pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau who’s the US Open champion will play with Jon Rahm and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy will go out with world number one Dustin Johnson.

Football - Scotland and Northern Ireland are set for huge games tonight as both sides attempt to reach the finals of the delayed Euro 2020 Championships. Scotland face Serbia in Belgrade in their playoff final hoping to reach the finals of a major international tournament for the first time since 1998. Northern Ireland host Slovakia at Windsor Park aiming to reach their second Euro finals, four years after their debut in the competition. France have been stunned by Finland in an international friendly losing 2-0 in Paris last night. Both goals came in the first half as Finland triumphed over a strong French side that included Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud. There are a stack of international friendly games tonight including England against the Republic of Ireland and Wales against the USA.

Formula 1 - The Williams acting team principal Simon Williams has tested positive for coronavirus in the run-up to this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix. The team say that the 57-year-old tested positive in the UK on Wednesday after experiencing “mild symptoms”. He’s now isolating and on track duties will be assumed by team manager Dave Redding and chief vehicle designer Adam Carter.

Rugby Union - Duncan Weir will make his first start for Scotland since 2016 as they kick off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign in Italy this weekend. The Worcester fly-half will win his 29th cap as replacement for Finn Russell and Adam Hastings who are both out injured. Justin Tipuric returns for Wales against Ireland tomorrow after recovering from illness. Tipuric has recovered from tonsillitis and is the only change to the side that lost to Scotland by coach Wayne Pivac.

Weather

Partially cloudy with light variable winds. Top temperatures 19 degrees. Overnight lows of 12 degrees on the coast and 11 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Partially cloudy with highs of 16-18 degrees.

And finally

According to new research the list of the UKs most insufferable sayings includes 'touch base', 'sliding into DMs' and 'thinking outside the box’. The list of Britain's most loathed jargon phrases, also features 'spit balling ideas', 'helicopter thinking' and 'bang for the buck.' Amongst the phrases additionally making the cut include: 'Low hanging fruit' and 'out of the loop.' According to the research, the place we most frequently see or hear jargon is social media. Elsewhere, nearly one in five reported hearing most jargon at work. Interestingly, much of this commonplace office speak is lost on many workers. '66% of people admitting they don't know what 'spit balling ideas' means, while 25% say they have no idea what 'touch base' means either. 

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