French and Riviera News Thursday 4th February 2021

News

Strike action on region's transport network - The region's travel network is set to be disrupted today due to strike action. There will be no trams in Nice and few buses, due to the movement launched nationwide by the inter-union. Tram lines 1, 2 and 3 will not be running in Nice along with several bus routes. For the latest updates and information go to lignesdazur.com. As far as disruption to the trains is concerned, details are expected to be published on www.sncf.com and on the regional TER service pages at www.ter.sncf.com. A demonstration is planned in Nice at 2pm today outside the railway station. Unions are protesting at the government's proposed recovery plan.

Teachers strike - Meanwhile teachers are also planning strike action today across France in protest at planned job cuts for September by France’s Ministry of Education. Unions protest that taking into account the situation of learning alongside Covid and an increase in the number of students the job cuts are unjustified.

Defense Council meeting - Meetings of the French Health Defense Council and the Council of Ministers took place on Wednesday to take stock of the current health situation in France. Speaking after the meetings, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that a new confinement is "not inevitable" and described it as "a last resort" but the situation "remains fragile". He said that with regard to coronavirus numbers, "we are on a high plateau but more or less stable". He added that 1.5 million more people are being vaccinated in February. Concerning a possible extension of the school holidays he said that no additional measures are planned at this stage but "everything is still on the table in principle".

Press conference - Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran are expected to hold a press conference on the health situation today, February 4th, at 6pm. No new restrictions are expected to be announced.

Latest numbers for Covid in France - Meanwhile the numbers of hospitalizations for Covid in France published on Wednesday evening remain high, with 27,953 hospitalized patients (-76 compared to the day before), including 3,267 in intensive care (-3). Public Health France has recorded a total of 358 deaths in 24 hours, a level higher than the average for the last seven days (337).

Alpes Maritimes - The Regional Health Agency announced 9 new deaths from Covid-19 in the Alpes-Maritimes on Wednesday 3rd February. Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus has claimed 1,196 victims in the department (847 in the hospital, 349 in nursing homes). Hospitalizations show a slight increase with an additional five people being admitted on Wednesday and six additional patients were admitted to intensive care.

Monaco – Monaco identified 29 new cases of Covid on Wednesday 3rd February bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,572. Sixty-seven people are currently hospitalized and eleven patients are in intensive care. The Principality deplored its eighteenth death from Covid, a 91-year-old resident. 139 people are to date being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

New Covid centre - A new Covid-19 vaccination center has opened in Le Luc in the Var. It's the 9th such centre in the department and completes the Var's network of vaccination centres. You can find details of all the centres and how to make an appointment on the Prefecture's website: var.gouv.fr.

French in favour of stricter lockdown - According to the latest survey carried out by Elabe the majority of French people would be in favour of a strict lockdown rather than a "soft" one. The survey published on Wednesday showed that 55% of French people wanted a "strict" confinement, modeled on first lockdown back in March. The survey showed that seniors were more in favour of a "soft" lockdown with 60% of those over 65, while young people are in favour of a "strict" lockdown between 58 to 61% among 18-49 year olds. More than 8 in 10 French people are convinced that there will be a third lockdown. 

Cannes and Menton come top - Two of our local towns have taken first and second place in a survey of performance on Instagram. Cannes and Menton took the first two places in the ranking of best performing medium-sized French towns on Instagram last month. The list is published by the Social Media Observatoire which produces social media analysis software for local communities.

“Historic win for climate justice” - A French court has ruled that the state failed to take proper action to tackle the climate crisis, in what’s been called an “historic win for climate justice”. Handed down by the Paris Administrative Court on Wednesday, the decision holds France legally responsible for its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also finds the state liable for "ecological damage" linked to global warming. The four NGOs behind the landmark case, Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire a Tous (Our Shared Responsibility) – said the move set a welcome precedent.

Floods in south western France - In the Lot-et-Garonne, the peak of the flooding was reached on Wednesday evening as villages in the region looked more like islands, as the Garonne reached ten metres and fields became lakes. Fifty roads were still cut off on Wednesday evening. According to the prefecture a "decline is expected from this morning”.

Football - On the 23rd day of Ligue 1, Monaco have beaten OGC Nice at the Louis II stadium. Wednesday night saw Monaco win 2-1 against Nice. The result means that Monaco does not change place and temporarily remains in 4th position while the defeat for Nice sees them temporarily drop to 14th position. Monaco will play Nîmes next on February 7th while Angers SCO will face OGC Nice on the same day at the Allianz Riviera.

Business

Asian shares have dipped this morning as tight liquidity conditions in China curbed buying although risk sentiment is being supported by improving corporate earnings and expectations of large US stimulus. US bond prices have extended their decline with the 30-year yield hitting its highest levels since March on the back of stronger economic data and a push in Washington to pass the massive stimulus package. Tight liquidity in China following another rise in short-term interest rates has hampered stocks with authorities tightening their stance in recent weeks. Higher interest rates are raising concerns that Chinese authorities may be shifting to a more constrained approach to rein in share prices and property markets. Markets have calmed significantly in the past few days with investors expectations of volatility slipping back to their lowest levels in more than a week. The retail trading frenzy appears to have faded with the share price of GameStop and other favoured social media targets falling back while the price of silver has steadied having already wiped out gains made on Monday.

The online marketplace eBay has reported a jump in sales over the Christmas period as coronavirus lockdowns spurred more people to buy presents on the internet. eBay reported a rise in revenues to 2.9 billion dollars for the fourth quarter beating analysts’ expectations. The number of active annual buyers grew by 7 percent to 185 million. eBay said that it would be stronger coming out of the pandemic than it was going in. The firm saw its gross merchandise volume jump by 21 percent to 26.6 billion dollars compared to the same period in 2019. eBay shares rose by 9 percent on the news to 63 dollars 46.

General Motors is feeling the effects of the global semiconductor chip shortage. The US car giant says that it will be cutting production completely at three of its factories in North America next week while another plant in South Korea will run at half capacity. The news came as the US chipmaker Qualcomm reported quarterly results that missed expectations. Although Qualcomm doesn’t make the chips that are affecting the automotive sector, it does work with some of the manufacturers that are currently facing backlogs. General Motors says that solving the shortage could pose difficulties. The firm said that semiconductor supply for the industry remains “very fluid”.

Sport 

Football - There were 5 games in the English Premier League last night with Liverpool losing more ground in the title race following a surprise 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Brighton. Manchester City extended their lead at the top to 3 points on the back of a 2-0 away win at Burnley while Leicester climbed to third place thanks to a 2-0 win at Fulham. In the other results Leeds lost 2-1 at home to Everton and West Ham were 3-1 winners at Aston Villa. There’s one game tonight. Spurs host Chelsea.

In the English Championship last night Rotherham beat Derby 3-0 and Brentford beat Bristol City 3-2.

And in the Scottish Premiership Ross County were 2-1 winners at Hamilton. Motherwell beat Dundee United 2-1 and Rangers beat St Johnstone 1-0.

Tennis - Australian Open officials say that the tournament will still go ahead despite the fact that some 600 players, officials and support staff have been forced to isolate after a worker at a quarantine hotel tested positive for coronavirus. Play at six warm-up events in Melbourne has been cancelled today but the Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews says that, at this stage there will be no impact on the tournament proper. Players will be free to return to training and competition after a negative test.

Cricket - It’s day 1 of the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Rawalpindi. Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat. They’d reached 8-0 after 3 overs.

Its day 2 of the 1st Test between Bangladesh and West Indies in Chattogram. Bangladesh are still batting in their first innings and had reached 315-7 after 114 overs.

Rugby Union - The Ireland captain Johnny Sexton will be fit to face Wales in the 6 Nations opener on Sunday. The 36-year-old has been suffering with a hamstring problem but has come through training this week and says that he’s ready to go.

Meanwhile, Wales have released winger Josh Adams after he was suspended for two games for breaching Covid-19 protocols. Adams attended a family gathering on Sunday after the Wales squad had been released from training camp on Saturday. He’s apologised for his behaviour.

Weather

Mainly cloudy with some bright spells and with light easterly winds. Top temperature 15 degrees. Overnight lows of 11 degrees with  cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Partially cloudy with highs of 15 .

And finally 

Heinz is set to launch its baked beans in freezer packs as it looks to rebrand a great British favourite. The move is part of a plan to ‘liberate’ baked beans from their old-fashioned image and instead turn them into ‘the new avocado’ by playing up their nutritional value.

The ‘beanz liberation exercise’, will see the product expand into new formats – including a frozen option – that it hopes will appeal to youngsters. The push began with the launch of the ‘beanz protein pot’ last month – but at least another six products will be released this year. The microwaveable breakfast pots included not only its signature beans, but sausage, spinach and scrambled egg as well. Now the family comfort  food will change to a health and wellness food that is recognised as good for your body.’ Heinz wanted to lure back younger shoppers as the brand has lost its appeal with them over the past decade.

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