French and Riviera News Tuesday 11th May 2021

News

French Prime Minister details the next stages of the progressive end to lockdown in France - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has given details of the next stages in the progressive end to lockdown in France. Castex clarified on Monday May 10th the rules which will apply to the reopening of restaurant terraces, shops, cinemas and museums from May 19th. 

From May 19th 

• For restaurants, cafes and bars, terraces will reopen at 50% of their capacity, with tables available for a maximum of six people seated.

• For shops. All stores considered non-essential during the lockdown period will in turn be able to reopen. One customer at a time will be allowed in stores of less than 8 m2, and a minimum of 8 m2 per customer will be required for stores with a larger surface area. The rule will be the same for open markets and will be 4 m2 per person for outdoor markets.

• For museums. 8 m2 per person is also planned for the reopening of the museums.

• For cinemas and theatres. They will be able to welcome the public with a maximum capacity of 35% and a limit of 800 spectators.

• For religious ceremonies and civil weddings. These ceremonies can take place with only one in three seats occupied.

• For sports halls and swimming pools. These establishments will be able to reopen for those considered a priority, such as school children. For the public access will be limited to 35% of the capacity.

From June 9th

• For restaurants, cafes and bars, the terraces can reopen entirely, with however the continuation of six people seated maximum. Indoors will also be able to reopen, with a capacity of 50% and tables of six people seated maximum.

• For shops and museums, the space per customer changes from 8 m2 to 4 m2 and is lifted for outdoor markets.

• For cinemas and theatres. Reception capacity will increase from 35% to 65% with a limit of 5,000 and from 1,000 people, a health pass will be required.

• For religious ceremonies and civil weddings. One in two seats, compared to one in three previously, can now be occupied.

• For sports halls and swimming pools. Non-priority people will have access for "contactless" sports, with a capacity of 50% and the capacity as with cinemas and theatres will increase to 65% for the public. Limited to 5,000 people and a health pass requested for any reception of more than 1,000 spectators.

From June 30th

• For restaurants, cafes and bars, complete reopening while continuing barrier gestures and physical distancing. A health protocol will be applied according to the epidemic situation on that date.

• For shops. They will in principle, see an end to capacity limits. As will museums.

• For cinemas and theatres. They too will see an end to capacity limits while still respecting physical distancing and barrier gestures. A health pass will remain in effect for any event bringing together more than 1,000 people.

• For religious ceremonies and civil weddings. All seats can be occupied.

• For sports halls and swimming pools. All sports will be allowed, and the public capacity will increase to 100%. A health pass will also be applied.

• For standing concerts and festivals. Standing concerts will be able to resume, with a limit set by the regional prefect. The health pass will be required for any concert bringing together more than 1,000 spectators. As for festivals, they will be able to start again with 4 m2 per participant, and a limit to the number of festivalgoers. Here too, a health pass will be necessary for more than 1,000 participants.

Covid figures published on Monday May 10th - Meanwhile on Monday figures showed a definite drop in the number of Covid patients in intensive care, standing at 4,870. In the last 24 hours, 265 new patients with severe forms of Covid were admitted to intensive care units, compared to 124 the day before.

The total number of Covid patients hospitalized is also down slightly, to 25,666. A total of 1,125 people have been hospitalized in the past 24 hours. Health authorities report an average of 1,120 new hospitalizations per day over the last seven days.

In 24 hours, 293 people have died in hospital from Covid. The daily average of deaths from Covid in French hospitals is 217 over the past seven days.

In the past 24 hours, 3,292 new cases have also been identified in France, a low figure due to the closure of laboratories at the weekend.

National assembly validates “health pass” – And the National Assembly in France has validated the "health pass" despite some criticism. The “health pass” will mean that access to large gatherings or certain places will be reserved for people with a negative covid test, proof of vaccination or proof of having recovered from Covid. The “health pass” was initially to be reserved for international travel but has since also been applied to large gatherings and access to certain places.

In other news 

Frances introduces tougher sentences for attacks carried out on the police - Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced tougher sentences against those who carry out attacks on police officers or gendarmes. The decision was announced in a press release on Monday evening, after a meeting with representatives of the police unions in Matignon.

The decision comes a few days after the murders of a police officer in Rambouillet and a police officer in Avignon. In a statement, the Prime Minister specified that the sentence for a crime committed against a police officer or a gendarme, would be increased to thirty years. The Prime Minister will be in Avignon this afternoon to lead a tribute to Eric Masson the officer killed in a shooting last Wednesday in the city centre.

French serial killer dies aged 79 - Jailed French serial killer Michel Fourniret, who murdered at least eight girls or young women between 1987 and 2001, has died aged 79. Fourniret died in the secure unit of a hospital in Paris, he was serving two life sentences for the kidnappings and killings. Fourniret's wife, Monique Olivier, was also given a life sentence for complicity.

Abolition of slavery - French President Emmanuel Macron has led a ceremony in Paris to commemorate the country’s national day of the abolition of slavery and to pay tribute to the victims of the slave trade. On Monday the French President paid his respects. Also attending the ceremony were members of the government's cabinet, including interior minister Gérald Darmanin, justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, and culture minister Roselyne Bachelot.

Monaco signs agreement with Italy - Monaco’s Minister of State M. Pierre Dartout has signed an agreement between the Principality of Monaco and Italy. This agreement is an amendment to the General Convention on Social Security between the two countries signed in February 1982 and relates to the introduction of teleworking for employees of the Principality residing in Italy. The agreement defines teleworking on behalf of the company located in the Principality and vice versa.

After five years of discussions the agreement marks a real progress for both countries especially during the economic context recently made more difficult by Covid which has however, led to the generalization of teleworking successfully. The increased use of teleworking should create many jobs in the coming years and will also help reduce road traffic which will help protect the environment.

For employees who choose to do so, teleworking will improve the quality of life, notably with a reduction and the time spent on transport. This is a positive agreement for both countries; for Monaco it will allow the development of business activity and will generate new tax revenue and social contributions and for Italy this is an additional possibility of hiring residents in the Principality.

France bans gender neutral spellings - Gender neutral spellings have been banned in French schools, as they are considered to be a threat to the French language. Gender neutral spellings that place full stops in the middle of words have been considered as a threat by France’s education ministry. In French grammar, nouns take on the gender of the subject to which they refer, with male preferred over female in mixed settings.

Therefore, a group of friends with four women and one man is referred to using the masculine 'amis' - causing controversy among gender equality advocates. With midpoints included, the written world becomes 'ami.e.s', including the feminine 'e' ending - though it would still be pronounced the same when spoken. Advocates say the midpoints make French 'more inclusive' but critics say it creates differences between written and spoken French which make the language harder to learn and threaten its entire existence.

Le Robert dictionary - One of the biggest commercial dictionaries in France “Le Robert " has decided that in its 2022 edition the word “covid” is written with a lower case and that it is masculine. Meanwhile its competitor, the Larousse, has systematically given Covid a capital "C".

Hotel Carlton auction - The Carlton Hotel in Cannes is auctioning 600 pieces of its furniture. Speaking to French media, General Director Giuseppe Vincelli said that “the possibility to buy a dressing table once used by Grace Kelly has an emotional value which has nothing to do with the value of the piece of furniture”. From Monday, 10th May nearly 100 lots went on sale. The General Manager added that “the hotel wants to allow the public to keep in touch with clients who have had extraordinary experiences over the years during their stay”. The prestigious palace of the Côte d’Azur is currently undergoing renovation work which is expected to last until 2023.

Business

Asian markets have fallen back today as investors reacted to declines on Wall Street on concerns about accelerating inflation and the prospect of higher interest rates in the not too distant future. Further data on US inflation comes tomorrow when the US Labor Department releases its latest consumer price index report. Inflation jitters are driving investors away from market leading growth stocks in favour of cyclicals which stand to benefit the most as the economy gathers momentum. Rising inflation expectations have lifted longer dated US Treasury yields. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note has risen this morning after plunging to a two month low on Friday. Treasuries and the dollar have been swinging back and forth as investors adjust to expectations for when the US Federal Reserve will start tapering bond purchases and raising interest rates as the economy picks up.

The largest US gasoline pipeline will not resume full operations for several more days due to last week’s ransomware cyber attack. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline which carries nearly half of the fuel consumed along the US east coast is one of the most disruptive digital ransom schemes ever reported. The full impact of the attack is yet to be assessed but the shutdown is reducing fuel availability in the near term, pushing up prices and forcing refiners to cut production because they have no way of shipping products. Colonial Pipeline says that it’s working on restarting operations gradually with the goal of substantially restoring operational capacity by the end of the week. The FBI is attributing the cyber attack to Darkside, a group believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe.

President Biden has denied claims that expanding unemployment benefits is preventing Americans from taking new jobs. Mr Biden says that any unemployed American offered a suitable job must take it or risk losing unemployment benefits. Republicans are blaming bad economic data last week on Mr Biden’s decision to extend expanded unemployment benefits. The US economy added 266,000 jobs in April with the unemployment rate edging up to 6.1%. Economists had predicted job increases of between 900,000 to 2 million. According to the Labor Department there are still 7.4 million unfilled positions across the country.

Sport

Football – The European Champions League final could be staged in Portugal after UEFA failed to gain guarantees of quarantine exemptions to move the game to Wembley. UEFA, UK government officials and the Football Association met on Monday to discuss moving the game between Chelsea and Manchester City from Istanbul. UEFA has decided that the game must be moved after Turkey was placed on the UK’s red travel list meaning fans can’t go to the game. Portugal is on the green list so fans would be allowed to attend the match on the 29th of May. The game could still be played at Wembley but it would require a major shift from the UK government who have so far failed to reach agreement on access for sponsors and broadcasters who would be subject to quarantine regulations.

There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Fulham have been relegated after losing 2–0 at home to Burnley. There are two games tonight. Manchester United play Leicester and Southampton play Crystal Palace.

Formula One – Lewis Hamilton says that he wants to seal a new contract with Mercedes before the summer break. The 36-year-old left it until the winter to sign his current one-year deal and he says that the sensible thing to do will be to start discussions now. The seven time world champion said that he did not want talks to detract from his campaign to win a record-breaking eighth drivers’ championship. Hamilton has won three out of the four races so far this season and leads the drivers’ championship by 14 points from Max Verstappen.

Rugby Union – Fans will be welcomed back at Twickenham for the first time since December when England play the United States and Canada in July. Reports say that at least 10,000 fans will be allowed to watch each game. England play the United States on July 4th and Canada on the 10th of July. Scotland will travel to Romania and Georgia for their summer tour and Wales will host Canada and Argentina. Ireland will play Japan and the United States while South Africa will face two home games against Georgia in  preparation for the visit of The British and Irish Lions.

Tennis – The women’s world number two Naomi Osaka has said that she is not sure if the Olympic Games should go ahead this summer. Tokyo is under a state of emergency amid a surge in coronavirus cases just 10 weeks from the start of the rescheduled Games on the 23rd of July. Osaka says of course she wants to play but as a human being she considers that if people aren’t healthy, and they’re not feeling safe then it is a big cause for concern. The 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has also raised doubts over her participation in the Tokyo Olympics.

Weather

Overcast with rain and scattered thunderstorms, clearing this afternoon. Light to moderate south westerly winds and a high of 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 12-14 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 19-21 degrees.

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