French and Riviera News Thursday 20th May 2021

News

Terraces reopen in France - From Paris to Marseille, from Dunkirk to Juan-Les-Pins, people in France enjoyed the conviviality of a moment on a bar or restaurant terrace with some residents in Toulouse describing it as "terrasso-therapy".

After seven months of closure France reopened on Wednesday May 19th to the delight of many restaurant workers and customers. In Juan-Les-Pins, in the Alpes-Maritimes, the sun made this day particularly joyful as one customer described it as "a dream come true”.

Meanwhile there were longs queues outside many shops on Avenue Jean-Medecin in Nice on Wednesday as many non-essential stores reopened, with impatient shoppers waiting outside. Non-essential stores have been closed in France due to the health crisis.

And in the French capital visitors flocked to the Musée d’Orsay which was just one of France's many cultural venues to reopen after a six-month closure due to Covid-19 restrictions.

French Senate approves health passes - The French Senate has approved the government’s controversial Covid health passes, which will allow people to attend large events, such as festivals. The measure is part of a law that will see France gradually lift its state of emergency.

The Senate voted in favour of the proposed bill, after making several changes and specifying that health passes must only be required for venues that are unable to respect social distancing. Initially meant as a document for people leaving or entering the country, the passes are to serve as proof that a person has been vaccinated, has tested negative for Covid-19, or has recovered from the virus. 

Meanwhile French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that he hopes to be able to "turn the page on Covid-19" in November or December.

Health figures - Health figures published on Wednesday have shown that the number of covid patients in intensive care in France has fallen below 4,000 standing at 3,862, with 168 new admissions in the last 24 hours. The figure had remained around 6,000 during the second half of April, the peak of the third wave, before falling sharply since early May. The total number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients is 21,347, with 712 new admissions.

The number of new hospital deaths stands at 141, bringing the total to 108,210 people since March 2020, when the epidemic began.

In other news

Trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy - The trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is accused of illegally financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign, resumes today after being adjourned on the opening day in March after a lawyer fell sick with covid. Earlier this year, Sarkozy was convicted of corruption in a separate case.

Prosecutors allege that Sarkozy’s party spent nearly double the 22.5 million euros permitted under electoral law on lavish campaign rallies, and then hired a friendly public relations agency to hide the cost.

Police officer injured during roadside check - A police officer has been injured in the Gard after being hit by a car during a roadside check. The incident occurred shortly after 5.30pm on Wednesday afternoon. The officer was thrown to the ground after the vehicle refused to stop. The motorist was then subsequently hit by gunfire from police. Both are reported to be in a critical condition in hospital three others fled the scene.

The incident occurred as thousands of police officers rallied in front of the National Assembly to express their anger and demand stronger sentences for those who attack the police.

Princess Charlene of Monaco shows her support in fight against poaching - Princess Charlene of Monaco has shown her support in the fight against poaching in a recent Instagram post. The Princess posted a photo of herself alongside a rhinoceros visibly hurt, with bloody ears and a bandaged mouth. The animal was no doubt a victim of poachers. Alongside the photo are the words "Thank you for not forgetting us", with the hashtags save the rhinos and other endangered species. The photo was taken by wildlife photographer Christian Sperka and once again proves the commitment of the Princess of Monaco, who grew up in South Africa, against poaching.

Win for PSG - Paris Saint-Germain have won a record-extending 14th Coupe de France on Wednesday night following a 2-0 win over Monaco.

Business

Minutes from the April meeting of the US Federal Reserve show that members agree that the economy remains far from the central bank’s goals with some looking at a future discussion of tapering its bond buying program.

Strong inflation readings and signs of a worker shortage in recent weeks have fuelled fears and upset stock markets despite reassurances from the Fed that the rise in prices would be temporary.

Analysts say that the minutes suggest that some Fed members are starting to feel that inflationary pressures are growing and that some action may be necessary on interest rates in the coming months.

Wall Street reacted negativity  to the news and Asian markets have also fallen today.

Bitcoin has continued to swing wildly after China imposed fresh curbs on crypto currencies.

Beijing has banned banks and payment firms from providing services relating to crypto currency transactions.

The Chinese government has also warned investors against speculative crypto trading.

The price of bitcoin plunged by 33% in morning trade on Wednesday only to surge by 33 percent in the afternoon after some prominent proponents helped to propel a rebound.

Volatility in bitcoin trading erupted last week when Elon Musk said that Tesla would no longer accept the crypto currency as payment for the firm’s cars.

Later he said that Tesla might want to sell its bitcoin holdings but then changed his mind..

The outlook for bitcoin and other crypto currencies remains extremely uncertain and investors are being urged to act with  caution.

And- The UK government has announced the biggest shake up in the country’s railways since privatisation in the mid 1990s.

The government is to create a new state owned body, Great British Railways which will set timetables and prices, sell tickets and manage rail infrastructure.

However, private operators will still be contracted to run most trains.

GBR will replace the current operator  of infrastructure,Network Rail but is not expected to be established until 2023.

The government says the new system should look more like transport for London with multiple operators under one brand.

A string of reforms is to be introduced for the operation of the railways including the significant rollout  of more pay-as-you-go as well as contactless and digital ticketing on smart phones.

Sport

Formula One –First practice for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix takes place at 11:30 this morning as the battle for control of the drivers’ championship between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen resumes.

On Wednesday, Hamilton said that he believes Verstappen “feels perhaps that he has a lot to prove” in the title fight. He said he thought he’d done well to avoid all the incidents on the track but there are 19 more races to go and they could connect.

In reply, Max Verstappen said he had “nothing to prove and avoiding contact goes both ways”.

The last time that the Monaco Grand Prix was staged in 2019 saw a fierce battle between the two drivers and a masterclass from Hamilton on how to defend the lead when your tyres are shot.

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