French and Riviera News Tuesday 11th January 2022

News

Covid incidence rate at 2577 in the Alpes Maritimes - According to the latest data available from Public Health France the covid incidence rate stood at 2,577 in the Alpes-Maritimes between the 1st and the 7th of January, breaking all records. While the national average in France stands at 2,545 the increase in the region is nearly 66% over the last seven days.

Monaco covid cases - Here in Monaco on Monday, 80 new cases of covid were declared bringing the total number of residents affected since the start of the epidemic to 6,087. Thirty-seven people are currently in hospital and 330 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Health minister says Delta variant has decreased - Meanwhile French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that the Delta variant "seems to have started to decrease". He said that this was "good news" but that he remained cautious. He was speaking before the French Senate, which is examining the bill to convert the health pass into a vaccination pass.

Teachers and parents continue call for strike action despite announcement from Prime Minister - Despite French Prime Minister Jean Castex announcing measures to simplify the health protocol in French schools, teaching unions have continued their call for strike action on Thursday January 13th, claiming that the changes are "not enough". On Monday evening Castex announced that pupils who are considered as covid contact cases will no longer have to have an antigen or PCR test from a pharmacy, replacing them with self-home covid tests, which would be available free of charge from a pharmacy on presentation of a note from the school. Castex also added that parents who are informed that their child is a contact case would be able to wait until the end of the school day to collect them from the establishment. Teachers and parents however say that the system is "shambolic" and not "sustainable" as teaching unions continue to call for parents not to send their children to school on Thursday.

In other news 

Man suffers heart attack - The victim of a road accident in Nice on Monday January 10th, has since died. The accident occurred at midday in the centre of Nice when the 75-year-old driver of a two-wheeler suffered a heart attack. No one else was injured in the incident.

College closed due to flooding - The Gustave-Roux college, in the Rougières district of Hyères in the Var has been forced to close due to flooding. The flooding was caused at the weekend by a major water leak in a technical room on the 2nd floor of one of the buildings.

French President on law enforcement and security - President Emmanuel Macron has made several major announcements concerning law enforcement and security during a visit to the Alpes-Maritimes on Monday January 10th. Macron announced that the security budget would be increased by almost 25% over five years and that he wanted to "double the police officers on the ground by 2030". Speaking in Nice before elected officials he also announced the creation of a force which would intervene on a temporary basis in neighbourhoods which are seeing a surge in crime such as drugs trafficking. He said that the number of officers dealing with domestic violence would be increased from 2,000 to 4,000 within five years and that it should be possible to file a complaint online by next year. He also talked of increasing the police presence on public transport and the introduction of fixed fines for all offences which carry a prison sentence of less than one year. The measures proposed are expected to be put before the Council of Ministers in March and would be put before parliament after the Presidential election in April, should the winner of the election decide to press ahead with the measures.

New police building in Nice - During his visit President Macron laid the foundation stone of a new police building in Nice which will bring together the national and municipal police under one roof and is estimated to cost 220 million euros. In the afternoon the Head of State visited the Roya valley which was devastated by Storm Alex in October 2020. While on a walk about in Tende a woman showed her hands to the president with the words "I'm mad at you" written on them, a direct reference to the remarks made by Macron who last week said that he wanted to "annoy" unvaccinated people in an interview with Le Parisien. Upon seeing the inscription, Macron replied ironically: "Thank you, thank you, it's nice, thank you and good luck, protect yourself". The exchange did not go any further.

Nice retains its place as fifth largest city in France - According to the latest INSEE survey Nice retains its place as the fifth largest city in France in terms of population with 345,528 inhabitants. Cannes becomes the second most populous city in the department with 74,545 inhabitants, 1,107 more than Antibes, which lost between 2013 and 2019, 3,278 inhabitants. In general, the population of the department has increased by an average of 0.2 per cent per year.

Business

The International Monetary Fund has warned that higher US inflation leading to an increase in interest rates could put financial markets under stress and put vulnerable countries at risk. The IMF says that emerging market nations should brace themselves for "muscular action" from the US Federal Reserve warning that prices are now rising at the fastest pace in nearly four decades and that the tight labour market has started to feed into wage increases. Markets are pricing in 4 rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year with the central bank also forecast to start selling bonds through quantitative tightening. Higher US borrowing costs usually lead to a stronger dollar, making it more expensive for emerging market economies to service their debts. Slower US growth prompted by higher interest rates would also affect exports to the world's largest economy.

The crisis hit Chinese real estate Evergrande is moving out of its Shenzhen headquarters in a bid to cut costs. The firm says that it's moving to a property in the same city that it owns as it struggles to make payments on its more than 300 billion dollars in liabilities and has missed payments on its offshore debt. The news comes as rival group Shimao said today that its in talks with potential buyers for some of its properties as it tries to reduce debts. Both firms have come under intense pressure in the last six months after the Chinese government moved to curb their borrowing. China's property crisis is estimated to have wiped out more than a trillion dollars from the sector last year.

Rolls Royce says that the health crisis has spurred the wealthy to buy more of its vehicles than ever before because it's made them realise that "life is short". As global cases of coronavirus escalated last year, Rolls Royce which is based in Goodwood, England says that it booked the highest annual sales in its 117 year history. The luxury car maker which is owned by BMW also said that it had benefitted because the restrictions imposed by the health crisis had restricted the ability of wealthy consumers to spend their money elsewhere. Sales rose in every part of th