French and Riviera News Thursday 13th January 2022

News

Strike action in schools today - According to unions 75% of primary school teachers will be on strike today Thursday 13th January, in protest against the government's management of the health protocol for covid in French schools. While primary education teachers announced the strike action last week, it is not known how middle and high schools will be affected, as teachers in these establishments are not required to give prior notice on the intention to strike. Many high school students are also expected to sit their mock baccalaureate exams starting today and tomorrow.

Concerning the obligation to maintain a minimum reception service in primary education despite class closure, it is also unclear how this will be maintained due to the covid outbreak and lack of staff. Some local councils have announced that the minimum service will be reserved for priority parents such as health workers.

Senate examens bill for vaccination pass but makes several changes - Meanwhile as the Senate exams the bill this week proposed by the French government to change the health pass into a vaccination pass, Wednesday saw many changes made to the original text. As a result, discussions are to take place today between MPs and senators in order to reach an agreement.

Changes to the text from the senate include introducing a threshold of 10,000 hospitalised patients. This means that the vaccination pass could only be imposed when the number of hospitalisations related to covid is greater than 10,000 patients on a national level and would systematically be void below this threshold. However, when the number is above the threshold the vaccination pass could only be an obligation in departments in France where the full vaccination rate is less than 80% of the population or where there is a high covid incidence rate.

Another change would see the vaccination pass become an obligation to people over 18 years of age and not 12 years of age as proposed by the government. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 could present a simple health pass. Concerning the authorisation of vaccination for children the senate voted in favour of a single parent's authorisation for 5- to 11-year-olds, as is already the case for 12- to 15-year-olds. Finally, they voted against the possibility of fining business owners of bars, cafes or restaurants which require the pass, for failing to check the ID of a pass holder.

Man dies after being crushed by a winch – A 65-year-old man has died after being crushed by a winch in the port of Mandelieu. The man was at the time accompanying a boat owner on Wednesday afternoon when the fatal accident occurred. According to initial reports from the police the two men allegedly entered the shipyard without signalling themselves at the entrance, while a driver was in the middle of a manoeuvre and did not see them. The investigation continues.

Power cut in Place Garibaldi Nice - Place Garibaldi in Nice was plunged into darkness on Wednesday evening following a power cut. The incident occurred shortly after 7.30pm after a fire broke out in a public electricity distribution substation. Enedis engineers intervened to cut off the electricity as a safety measure. The fire was brought under control. 5,000 customers were however, deprived of electricity at the peak of the intervention.

Outrage towards the 29-euro centimes baguette - French supermarket chain Leclerc has faced strong criticism from farmers to bakers following its launch of the 29-euro centimes baguette. Outrage spread across the industry on Wednesday January 12th, following the launch. Michel Edouard Leclerc had announced the plan to "block the price of the baguette, for at least four months in the name of defending the purchasing power of the French".

No phone January - A restaurant in the Tarn has challenged its customers to have a meal without looking at their mobile phone. Should they succeed then a drink is offered "on the house". As part of "No Phone January" the restaurant requires that customers leave their mobile devices in a small basket placed on their table. Speaking to local media the restaurant owner said "there are three types of customers; those who find the idea great and participate straight away, those who refuse and then those who require a few minutes before putting their phone in the basket".

Relax! - Nice has appeared in sixth place in a list of the least stressful cities in France. The city of Angers in the north-west took first place in the list published by newspaper Le Figaro and which featured the twenty largest cities in France. A variety of criteria were used to compile the list including road noise, traffic jams, travel time between home and work, population density, sunshine and online activity.

Business

US prices are rising at their fastest rate in four decades, with inflation up 7 percent year-on-year in December. Strong demand and tight supply for key consumer items including cars are driving the rise, putting pressure on the central bank to act. December’s increase marked the third month in a row that the annual inflation rate has been above 6 percent. The figure is well above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. Housing costs are rising by 4.1 percent year-on-year and the cost of groceries has risen by 6.5 percent after averaging only 1.5 percent over the last ten years. Earlier this week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that inflation among its key members had hit the highest rate in 25 years in November. Investors will start zooming in on 4th quarter earnings in the coming days amid concerns that inflation will have an impact on companies profitability and pile more pressure on the Federal Reserve to start hiking interest rates.

The concerns over inflation coupled with the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant have led to a sell off over the past few days led by the Nasdaq with technology firms and other big growth firms that have benefited from lower interest rates suffering the brunt. Year-over-year profit growth for S&P 500 firms is expected to be lower in the 4th quarter than it was in the first three quarters of 2021. Huge profit gains last year were driven by a rebound in demand from the economic downturn in the early stages of the pandemic.

Negotiations are getting underway between the UK and India over a free trade deal. India is expected to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050 and the British government is hoping that UK-India trade will double over the course of this decade. Trade negotiations with India are notoriously difficult but with a deal with the United States still seemingly a long way off, UK trade officials are keen to strike an agreement before the end of 2022. India has up until now been extremely reluctant to liberalise. The European Union has been trying to reach a meaningful deal with India for several years without success and Australia has been in negotiations for more than a decade. Government procurement policy and the trade in services have been particular stumbling blocks.

Sport

Tennis - The draw for the Australian Open has been suspended pending a decision on whether Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play or be deported for breaking visa regulations. The Australian Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is set to make decision today but any ruling to deport the player would almost certainly lead to an injunction against the measure. It’s not yet clear whether Djokovic will be forced to return to quarantine if the decision goes against him but that’s likely to be the case unless he boards the next flight home.

Football - Chelsea are through to the final of the English League Cup after beating Spurs 1-0 on the night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take the two-legged semi-final 3 nil on aggregate. Chelsea will play the winners of the second semi-final between Liverpool and Arsenal.The first leg of that game is being played tonight  at Anfield.

There was one game in the English Premier League last night. West Ham are back up to 4th place in the table following a 2-0 win over bottom of the pile Norwich.

Cricket - Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow could play as specialist batsmen for England in the final Test against Australia in Hobart which starts tonight. Stokes picked up a side strain in the 4th Test and is unlikely to bowl while Bairstow was hit on the hand during his 1st innings century. Australia have an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 5 match series heading into the game.

India are on top in the third Test against South Africa in Capetown following a batting collapse by the home side on day 2. South Africa were dismissed for 210 on day 2 in reply to India’s 223. At stumps, the tourists had reached 57-2 in their second innings, a lead of 70 runs. The three match series is tied at 1-1.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperatures 14-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 4-6 degrees on the coast and -2 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Clear skies with highs of 12-15 degrees.

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