French and Riviera News Thursday 6th May 2021

News 

Vaccination - One in four French people have now received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine representing 16.7 million French people. In a report on the vaccination campaign by the General Health Directorate, published on Wednesday evening, figures showed that in addition, the number of French people who have received the two doses of the vaccine reached the 7 million mark on Wednesday May 5th.

New cases of Covid infection rate drops below Macron’s threshold for reopening - The national average of new Covid infections in France is now down to 224 cases per 100,000 inhabitants below the threshold of 400 which had been established by the Head of State in order to envisage the lifting of restrictions. While the figure has significantly dropped compared to previous weeks it remains eight times higher than the level at which a public health emergency is normally declared. Meanwhile the number of patients being treated in intensive care units in France stood at more than 5,402 on Wednesday.

Scientific Council publishes report on “Health Pass” - In a report published this week France’s Scientific Council has said that it is in favour of using a “health pass” for large gatherings, in a "temporary and exceptional" manner. The council says that “a health pass ensuring that a person is vaccinated against Covid or has carried out a negative test” can be used to facilitate the "return to normal life", provided that it is "in a temporary and exceptional way".

When announcing the timetable for the gradual lifting of the restriction measures on Thursday April 29th, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron considered that it would be "absurd not to use" a health pass system "in the places where crowds gather, such as stadiums, festivals, fairs or exhibitions”.

The Council however considers that having a health pass should not result in non-compliance with barrier gestures or not wearing a mask in confined spaces. Concerning a “vaccination certificate” the Scientific council proposes that this is issued two weeks after the second injection of a vaccine or four weeks after the injection of the single dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. For people who have already contracted the disease, it would be two weeks after the injection of the single dose.

France awards citizenship to frontline workers - France has awarded speedier citizenship deals to more than 1,000 foreign-born frontline workers including health workers, security guards, cashiers and rubbish collectors, to reward them for their services to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic. France’s interior minister in charge of citizenship Marlène Schiappa said that 2,009 people, including 665 children, had been fast-tracked for French nationality for showing their attachment to France during the health crisis that has killed more than 105,000 people.

In other news

Policeman shot dead in Avignon - A policeman has been shot dead in Avignon in the Vaucluse. The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon shortly after 6pm during an anti-drug operation, as police carried out identity checks on several individuals. The police had been sent to the city centre after being alerted by local residents. The officer was killed after several shots were fired by an individual who later fled the scene on a scooter and is still at large with several hundred police officers being mobilized on Wednesday evening. The victim, a 36-year-old father, died at the scene as emergency services intervened. Police have opened an investigation and are studying CCTV footage.

French President declares “Napoleon Bonaparte is part of us” - French President Emmanuel Macron has declared Napoleon Bonaparte as an existential part of France after laying a wreath at his tomb in Paris on Wednesday to mark the 200th anniversary of the former emperor's death amid divisive debate in France about his legacy. Accompanied by his wife, Brigitte, Macron travelled to Les Invalides where guests observed a minute's silence followed by the French national anthem. In his speech following the ceremony Macron declared "Napoleon Bonaparte is a part of us”.

Love letters published - More than 160 love letters and telegrams of French author, aviator, poet and war hero Antoine de Saint-Exupery are finally being published in France today after a bitter conflict between his heirs. The publication of the love letters represents a reconciliation between two rival estates. In a press release last month via French publisher Gallimard, the author's descendants spoke of a "fruitless 18-year legal war" before they agreed to collaborate on the project. Saint-Exupéry's most successful work, "The Little Prince" is said to have sold more than 200 million copies in 450 different translations since it was first published in 1943.

Business

The United States has given its support to a World Trade Organisation initiative to waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. India and South Africa had proposed move which they say will increase vaccine production around the world. However, drug manufacturers argue that it may not have the desired effect. The US trade representative Katherine Tai said that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures” but warned that it would take time for WTO members to reach a consensus decision. President Biden backed a waiver during the 2020 presidential campaign and has reiterated his support for the proposals. If approved, the waiver would allow production of vaccines to be ramped up and provide more affordable doses for less wealthy countries. Developing countries say that the rules requiring countries to protect patents and other forms of intellectual property are now an obstacle to increasing production of vaccines and other products needed to tackle the pandemic.

The chief executive of Google has sent an email to employees encouraging them to return to work in the office for at least three days a week as lockdowns ease. Google began re-opening offices in April and has now laid out the details of how it sees the new hybrid working week. In the email to staff, Sundar Pichai outlined the benefits of office working. He said that he envisaged the workforce would be 60% office-based, 20% in new office locations and 20% working from home. He concluded by saying that some teams would need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of the work.

Goldman Sachs has told its UK bankers that they need to be ready to return to the office in June. Goldman boss David Solomon has previously described working from home as an “aberration”. Some Goldman bankers have already returned to the office in parts of the Asia-Pacific region. The bank said it had been encouraged by the rollout of vaccines in many places and concluded that US staff should be ready to come back into the office on the 14th of June and UK staff should make plans to be back on the 21st.

Sport

Football – The European Champions League final will be an all English affair after Chelsea set up a date with Manchester City by beating Real Madrid 2–0 in last night‘s semi-final second leg tie at Stamford Bridge. Timo Werner and Mason Mount scored the goals on the night to give Chelsea a 3–1 aggregate victory and a rendezvous with City in Istanbul on May the 29th.

The Europa League semi-final second leg ties are being played tonight. Arsenal host Villarreal trailing 2–1 from the first leg while Manchester United visit Roma taking a comfortable 6-2 lead into the game.

Cricket – Eight England players have returned from India after the Indian Premier League was suspended because of coronavirus. The group, which includes Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, and brothers Sam and Tom Curran will quarantine for 10 days in government approved hotels. England one day Captain Eoin Morgan is still in India along with the pace bowler Chris Jordan and batsman Dawid Malan.

Australian players trying to return home from the IPL will have to spend time in Sri Lanka or the Maldives before being allowed to return.

Rugby Union – Alun Wyn Jones of Wales is set to be confirmed as captain of the British and Irish Lions when coach Warren Gatland names  his 36-man squad later today. 35-year-old Jones has been the favourite for the role since leading Wales to the Six Nations title in March.

It will be his fourth Lions tour and comes after he won a world record 157 international caps. He’s also started the last nine Lions Test matches. Gatland will announce the squad at 1:30 pm French time this afternoon.

Tennis – Dan Evans has reached the last 16 at the Madrid open following a three-set win over John Millman. Evans is having a good season on clay and has reached a career high ranking of 26. He’ll now play the fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

In the women’s event, the world number one Ashleigh Barty beat Petra Kvitova to reach the semifinals.

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate to strong south westerly winds. Top temperature 23-25 degrees. Overnight lows of 16-19 degrees with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Mainly fine, windy tomorrow. Highs of 25 tomorrow and 18-20 degrees on Saturday.

And Finally 

Diamonds are a man’s best friend. Tiffany’s has announced that it will begin selling men's engagement rings for the first time ever this month after seeing a rise in demand for diamonds aimed at guys who are getting hitched. The luxury jeweler has announced the launch of its first-ever men's engagement ring settings, which will be available to purchase later this month with round, brilliant, and emerald-cut diamonds.

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