French and Riviera News Thursday 25th March 2021

News 

Minister of Interior calls for authorities to be “strict” concerning Covid restrictions - France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, has requested that prefects enforce restrictions in the whole of France in the fight against the spread of Covid. The minister has asked authorities to be “strict” in implementing the measures which “do not allow people to gather indoors and any outdoor gathering is limited to six”. The minister wants to avoid outdoor gatherings where in his view there is a risk of not respecting barrier gestures. Prefects have been told to step up controls in parks, and all outdoors spaces.

Situation in schools is worsening - Meanwhile the situation in schools is worsening, as the French government is determined for establishments to remain open. 15,000 cases of Covid have been reported this week amongst students, compared to 9,000 last week. As a solution to the rising number of cases the president of the Ile-de-France, a region particularly badly hit by the third wave, Valérie Pécresse, has suggested that the school holidays be moved forward by two weeks. This would mean that in zone C schools would close on April 2nd instead of April 17th as planned. Despite the situation in schools, a new survey carried out by Elabe has shown that a majority of French are in favour of schools remaining open, especially for nursery and primary schools. According to figures from the Minister of National Education the incidence rate of the epidemic is nearly 500 infections per 100,000 students. Currently faced with the non-closure of schools there are calls for teachers to be vaccinated immediately.

Critical situation in the Ile-de-France - The health situation in and around the French capital is indeed critical with an incidence rate above 700 per 100,000 inhabitants in Seine-Saint-Denis. The number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care continued to increase on Wednesday March 24th reaching 1,382. The total number of people hospitalized in the region has risen to 6,633, and 52 people have died in the last 24 hours. The director of AP-HP has stressed that the number of hospital admissions in 24 hours has never been so high since the first wave.

Additional lockdowns for other regions of France? - A lockdown may be put in place in three more French departments. Speaking after the Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that "consultations" would take place with a view to extending the lockdown to the Rhone, Aube and Nievre departments. He reiterated that the government is aiming to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by mid-June. He said that all those who want a vaccination will be able to be vaccinated "by the end of the summer".

Poll shows that Head of State was wrong not to introduce a lockdown in January - Meanwhile 6 out of 10 French people believe that the Head of State was wrong not to return to lockdown at the end of January. In an Elabe poll published today a majority of French people have express their reservations about the government's decisions in the fight against the health crisis. And concerning the measures taken recently with a return to lockdown in 16 departments for at least a month - 74% of those questioned believe that they are not coherent, 73% that they are not effective, 65% that they are not fair and 65% that they are not easy to understand.

Possible new measures for truck drivers - The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that tougher measures on truck drivers travelling from France to the UK are to be considered to stop Covid variants being imported. Mr Johnson said there was a balance needed between protecting public health and keeping trade flowing. His comments come amid concerns about the spread of South African, UK and Brazilian variants in France.

Cannes opens vaccination programme for residents 50 and over - From today Thursday 25th March, the City of Cannes has announced the opening of the vaccination programme for Cannes residents aged 50 and over with a new, simple and fast system for making appointments. From now on, all you have to do is complete the pre-registration form available on the city council’s website then note the file number given at the end of the registration and finally call the switchboard of the City of Cannes ( 04 97 06 40 00) communicating the number to fix an appointment. 5,000 slots are available for a first injection of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines until the end of April.

In other news

Toddler falls into private swimming pool - A toddler has been taken to hospital after nearly drowning in a private swimming pool. The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon when the child fell into the pool of a residence in the La Serinette district of Toulon. Emergency services transported the victim to the La Timone hospital in Marseille. Police have opened an investigation to determine the exact circumstances.

French farmers head to Lyon - French farmers are taking action today with disruptions expected in and around Lyon. Five to six hundred farmers from the Departmental Federations of Farmers' Unions (FDSEA) and Young Farmers from across the region are planning to head to Lyon on their tractors in protest against the lack of government action in tackling what is said to be “a serious situation” for the agricultural industry. It was back in February that breeders and farmers of the Rhône met in Lyon following the controversy over the meatless menu in canteens in Lyon. A meeting which ultimately revealed a much deeper crisis affecting the entire profession which the government has failed to act on.

Business

Shares in dual listed Chinese companies have fallen sharply this morning after the United States securities regulator adopted measures that would bar foreign companies from American stock exchanges if they don’t comply with US auditing standards. The move by the Securities and Exchange Commission adds to ongoing and unprecedented regulatory crackdowns in China on domestic technology companies with concerns that they’ve built market power the stifles competition. The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act signed into law by President Trump in December is aimed at removing Chinese companies from US exchanges if they fail to comply with American auditing standards for three years in a row. The rules also require firms to prove to the SEC that they are not aligned or controlled by the entity of a foreign government. In Hong Kong the news prompted the sharp sell-off of US listed Chinese companies which have listed on the city’s exchange in the past 2 years. The new rules come amid simmering tensions between the United States and China. Last week in Alaska the two sides held a bad tempered meeting with sharp rebukes of each other’s policies.

Oil prices have fallen by a further 2% this morning as fuel demand concerns re-emerged alongside fresh coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. The market has also been affected by the grounding of a giant container ship blocking crude shipments through the Suez Canal. Brent crude futures were down by 1.8% a little earlier to $63.27 with West Texas Intermediate  down by 2.1% to $59.91. Prices tumbled earlier this week on concerns about fresh pandemic curbs in Europe and vaccine delays stalling growth in demand for fuel. Reports this morning say that the container ship blocking the Suez has been partially refloated and traffic is starting to move through the canal again.

Tesla has said that customers can now buy their car with bitcoin. Elon Musk made the surprise announcement in the tweet but with bitcoin’s value rapidly moving up and down the price of a car could change from day to day. Tesla has been investing heavily in bitcoin and has bought around $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency. Mr Musk says that Tesla will be running its own internal software to handle bitcoin payments adding the bitcoin payment to Tesla will be retained as bitcoin and not converted to Fiat currency. In the US, orders for new Tesla cars can now be secured with the equivalent of a $100 Dollar deposit in bitcoin. Mr Musk said that the facility will be rolled out to other countries in the coming months.

Sport

Football - European qualifying games for the next World Cup got underway last night with some surprise results. Turkey stunned the Netherlands with a 4 -2 victory while France could only manage a one all draw with Ukraine. Serbia beat the Republic of Ireland 3-2 while Belgium came from behind to beat Wales 3-1. There are more games tonight including England against San Marino, Scotland against Austria, Italy against Northern Ireland and Germany against Iceland.

Cricket – West Indies are struggling at the end of day four of the topsy-turvy first test against Sri Lanka in Antigua. At stumps, West Indies were on 34-1 in their  second innings requiring an unlikely 341 to win the match on the final day.

Rugby union – Gregor Townsend says that Scotland are ‘gunning’ for the eight point victory over France that would secure a second spot in the Six Nations. Scotland haven’t won in Paris since 1999 but the coach says the team feels like it’s capable of going there and getting a result. France require a big win to overhaul the leaders Wales after having missed out on the Grand Slam by losing to England in their penultimate game.

Golf – Rory McIlroy drove his ball into a swimming pool during defeat to Ian Poulter in his opening group game at the WGC Matchplay in Texas. McIlroy’s wayward  drive at the fifth was one of a number of errors in a six&five thrashing. The Northern Irishman also found water on 13 with a chip across the green as Poulter sealed the win.

Weather

Mainly fine with light variable winds. Top temperature 15-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 8-10 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Partially cloudy. Highs of 15-17 degrees.

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