French and Riviera News.Thursday July 16th 2020

Face masks-The French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that the wearing of face masks in closed public spaces including supermarkets and shops will become obligatory on or before the first of August.

Speaking in the National Assembly in Paris on Wednesday ,Mr Castex said that the new rules could be introduced before the end of the month depending on the spread of Covid-19 but he stressed that he did not wish to alarm the public.

Mr Castex also said that there were no plans for a fresh national lockdown but admitted that some regions and cities could face new restrictions if cases of the virus spread quickly.

 

Marseilles-Health authorities in Marseilles have expressed concern after new cases of Covid-19 doubled in the city in the past 10 days.

Up to 25 people a day have been testing positive for coronavirus since the 6th of July and health authorities are calling on the public to be extremely vigilant and maintain social distancing advice.

917 people have died in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur since the start of the epidemic with 17 ,243 people testing positive for the virus.

 

French Bernie - The case of  23 men who are accused of operating a Ponzi scheme in the south of France and Monaco that raked in 35 million euros from small investors is due to be held in Lyon starting on the 4th of January.

The case will come 7 years after the alleged racket was uncovered by Monaco authorities following a string of complaints from investors who lost on average 58,000 euros each.

A Monaco based company ,registered in the Seychelles is at the heart of the criminal proceedings. Exelyum which was set up by 72 year old Jean Pierre Nitkowski promised fabulous returns of 20 percent per year and claimed to have offices specialising in Forex trading in London and Paris. The company claimed to have assets totaling 800 million euros but investigations found there to be little truth in the cover story and that the so called “expert” traders in the French and British capitals were little more than training operations.

15 commercial traders were recruited across France who tempted some 600 small investors to part with their cash but Exelyum was operating without administrative approval and the promised returns never materialized and the original investments went missing in a web of offshore platforms.

Nitkowski ,who’s been dubbed as the French “Bernie Madoff” is reported to have told authorities that he was a spy and he was acting on instructions from his “bosses”. He’s still being held in custody pending the trial which is the result of a class action lawsuit by those hoping to recover some or all of their missing investments.

 

McStrike- Employees at McDonald’s at the top of the Avenue Jean Medecin in Nice have started strike action in protest over working conditions.

Staff at the fast food restaurant say that they’re being made to work in dangerous and unhygienic conditions and that management have refused to listen to their complaints which include being spat and shouted at by members of the public.

Reports say that used syringes have been found in the restaurant’s toilets and that last November a member of staff had his nose broken by a customer.

Three quarters of the staff working at the restaurant are reported to be students who are paid 1,050 euros per month.

There are also allegations that management at the branch shouted at staff in front of customers and that one employee was threatened with the sack for asking for a day of compassionate leave.

Basic hygiene regulations have also been raised with freezers not at the correct temperature and store rooms liable to flooding.

McDonalds is yet to respond to the allegations.

 

Caught at it-Two Italian men who were observed sniffing cocaine in plain sight on the boulevard Albert 1er in Monaco have appeared in court and been sentenced.

The two were spotted on police surveillance cameras sniffing lines of white powder from a mobile phone at 4am on the 18th of January and arrested a few minutes later. They were found to be in possession of small amounts of cannabis and  cocaine which they said they’d bought in Italy the previous day.

Both were intoxicated with alcohol at the time of their arrest and were handed one month suspended jail terms and fines of 1,000 euros by the Monaco criminal tribunal.

 

Bras brawl - 5 youths who have confessed to being involved in a fatal brawl at Bras near Brignoles on Sunday night have been remanded in custody.

A 16 year old from Manosque died during the fight between rival gangs after being stabbed and an 18 year old is still in hospital with serious abdominal wounds.

The 5 have told investigators that they were all involved “ in one manner or another “ but no one has confessed to stabbing the dead boy.

They’ll each be interviewed separately by an investigating magistrate and can be expected to be charged with offences ranging from murder to grevious bodily harm.

 

War on scooters- Authorities in Nice are getting tough on badly parked motor scooters and bikes.

Fines of between 35 and 135 euros are being dished out for illegally parked machines depending on the severity of the offence.

Police say that while they exercise a “certain tolerance” the situation is getting out of control and inconveniencing pedestrians.

Nice city hall says that it has already created hundreds of new places for bike parking in the centre of the town and owners should respect the regulations.

 

Bring on the night- Owners of nightclubs in Saint Tropez have described as total hypocrisy a decision by the French State Council to extend a ban on them opening until at least September.

Nightclub operators are complaining that while bars and restaurants in the town are “full to breaking point” their establishments are not allowed to open because the government considers that they pose too great a risk to public health owing to Covid -19.

Some businesses are considering changing into bars only in an attempt to bring in some much needed revenue but that has to be approved by a security commission which won’t make a ruling until the 30th of July.

 

Grasse bonus-The town council in Grasse has voted to award some municipal employees bonuses of 1,000 euros for carrying out essential work during the coronavirus lockdown.

The bonuses are tax free and have been calculated on the basis of a daily fee of 27 euros 77 from the 17th of March until the 10th of May.

Those being rewarded for their efforts include municipal police officers ,education officials and refuse collectors. Social service workers ,civil servants and youth workers are also in line for bonuses.

 

In National News.

 

Castex- The new French Prime Minister Jean Castex has outlined his government’s programme in the National Assembly.

Mr Castex ,who replaced Edouard Philippe in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this week told deputies that the coronavirus crisis meant that France had to transform its industry adding that the fallout from the pandemic had underscored the country’s over-dependence on imports.

A 100 billion euro economic package including 40 billion euros in aid for domestic industries and services is to be rolled out on Friday and Mr Castex as promised to “slash” corporate taxes.

25 billion euros is to be pumped in to research and green technologies and fighting unemployment is to be the government’s absolute priority over the next 18 months.

 

Macron security- The security detail for President Macron has been called into question after he was confronted by protestors calling for his resignation while walking in a public garden in Paris on the Bastille Day evening.

The President was spotted by a group of yellow vest protestors while he was walking with his wife in the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre. The couple were accompanied by security guards but a crowd of people quickly surrounded the couple and shouted at the President to resign.

Mr Macron urged the group to “be cool “ in exchanges lasting around 6 minutes.

Security experts say that the incident could have developed into a “real problem” while opposition politicians have called on the President to exercise more caution.

 

Pet alert - Owners of pets travelling between France and the UK are being warned to prepare for big changes after Brexit happens on the 1st of January.

There’s almost certain to be a four month waiting period to register cats ,dogs and other domestic pets before they’re allowed to travel.

At the moment , rules on transporting animals are still under EU regulations but when the transition period ends things will get much more complicated.

Pet owners are being advised that if they want to make a trip in January ,they need to start preparing in September.

Owners should contact their vet at least 4 months before a trip departure date to make sure that all the necessary paperwork can be completed in time.

There could yet be a last minute deal between the UK and EU to keep pet transport regulations light but its best to be prepared as time is running out.

 

Business.

 

Apple has scored a major victory over the European Commission after the Union’s second highest court ruled that the firm is not liable for 13 billion euros in Irish back taxes.

The European General Court has ruled that the Commission did not succeed in showing the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage to Apple under article 107 of the EU’s competition rules.

The ruling is a blow to the Commission’s attempts to crack down on so called sweetheart tax deals with the court stating that not enough evidence had been produced to show that Apple’s two Irish subsidiaries had been granted a selective economic advantage and by extension ,state aid.

Apple has welcomed the ruling and said that the case demonstrated that it was not about how much tax it pays ,but where it is required to pay it.

The Irish government said that it had always been clear that it has not given special treatment to the US firm.

The EU said that it would study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

 

Goldman Sachs has reported a near doubling in trading revenue for the second quarter  helping the banking giant to soar past Wall Street profit estimates.

Goldman shares jumped by nearly 6 percent on the news as it announced a 93 percent surge in revenue at its trading business including its best results in a decade for both equities and fixed income ,commodities and currencies trading.

Unlike some of its biggest rivals including JP Morgan and Citigroup ,Goldman has minimal exposure to consumer loans and is more reliant on trading which may help to shield it from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm is to put aside a substantial amount of the funds generated from capital markets to bolster reserves earmarked for possible legal settlements.

 

And-The UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has defended the government’s furlough scheme after MP’s questioned its value for money.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was responding to questions from the House of Commons Treasury Committee who described the scheme as “ badly timed and poorly targeted”.

The job retention scheme was unveiled last week as part of the government’s 30 billion pound plan to prevent mass unemployment which also includes a VAT cut for the hospitality sector and a 50 percent off discount for people who eat out in August.

Mr Sunak said that the legislation would serve as a “significant incentive” to preserve jobs amid the pandemic and rejected claims that it should have been more targeted.

The government is to pay employers  1,000 pounds for each furloughed worker that they retain after January but some big firms including Primark have already said that they will not take advantage of the scheme.

There are currently some 9.4 million workers on the government’s furlough scheme who could cost the public purse more than 9 billion pounds in bonus payments should they all return to work.

 

Sport.

Football-There were 4 games in the English Premier League last night with Arsenal ending Liverpool’s hopes of a record points tally following a 2-1 win over the champions at the Emirates.

In the other results Burnley and Wolves drew 1-1.Manchester City beat Bournemouth 2-1 and Newcastle lost 3-1 at home to Spurs.

 

There are 4 games tonight.Everton play Aston Villa.Leicester face Sheffield United.Crystal Palace host Manchester United and Southampton play Brighton.

 

In the English Championship last night Brentford’s amazing run continued as they beat Preston 1-0 to keep them in with a chance of automatic promotion.Bristol City and Stoke drew 1-1.Birmingham and Charlton drew 1-1 and Nottingham Forest and Swansea drew 2-2.

 

Leeds play Barnsley tonight.

 

Cricket-Joe Denley has been dropped by England for the second Test against West Indies at Old Trafford.

Pace bowlers James Anderson and Mark Wood are rested while skipper Joe Root returns.

England need to win or draw the match to save the three Test series with West Indies hoping for a famous victory that’s got the Caribbean abuzz.

 

Rugby Union-The Lions tour of South Africa next summer will go ahead as planned with the dates unchanged.

The tourists will play three Tests against the world champions in Johannesburg ,Cape Town and Gauteng.

They’ll play 8 matches in total on the tour including 5 warm-up games.

The first Lions tour of South Africa took place in 1891.

 

Weather.

 

Mainly fine with light to moderate easterly winds.

Top temperatures 26-29 degrees.

Overnight lows of 21 degrees on the coast and 16 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Sunshine and thundery showers tomorrow afternoon.Showery on Saturday. Highs of 25-29 degrees.

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