French and Riviera News Tuesday 12th January 2021

News

Var introduces 6pm curfew, from today - As the Var and the Drome departments in France introduce the 6pm curfew today, Prime Minister Jean Castex, has said that “while a third lockdown is not ruled out as a last resort against Covid, the current figures suggest that the new curfew is having a positive effect”. Castex added that this coming week is “crucial” as far as the health situation is concerned. The Var and the Drome join 23 other departments in France, including the Alpes Maritimes and the Bouches du Rhone, which had already moved the curfew forward from 8pm to 6pm.

Monaco - Monaco’s government has announced that a 72-year-old resident being treated at the Princess-Grace Hospital for Covid has died. This is the third Covid related death since the start of 2021 and the sixth since the beginning of the health crisis.

In addition, thirteen new positive cases of Covid-19 were identified on Monday bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,070. Twenty-six people are currently hospitalized and 116 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

France Covid figures - Meanwhile on Monday, France saw a further increase in the number of people hospitalized for Covid for a second consecutive day with 24,812 new admissions. In addition, 310 people died from Covid in the past 24 hours bringing the total number of deaths to 67,750.

In a press release on Monday the Ministry of Health announced that 138,351 people have been vaccinated in France among priority cases, with the vaccination campaign inviting on January 18th all those over the age of 75 to be vaccinated. Registration is now open on the government website.

The government will hold a health defense council tomorrow Wednesday 13th January ahead of the government press conference on the health situation scheduled for Thursday.

WHO warns that collective immunity will not be achieved this year – The World Health Organisation has warned that the fight against the coronavirus is far from over adding that the “collective immunity against Covid-19 will not be achieved this year, despite vaccines being distributed in many countries”. The organization stresses the importance of continuing to apply protective measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask to control the pandemic.

Health Insurance - According to France’s Health Insurance, 2,500 employees in France have filed for sick leave online for suspected Covid without going to see a doctor. The system allows only private and public employees who cannot work from home to make the declaration online following a check list published by the Ministry of Health. Cases are then, to avoid abuse, followed-up with two to three phone calls over a 7-day period. In addition, the Prime Minister has said that from January 20th, each individual declared positive will be offered a home visit from a nurse.

Arrests made following investigation into criminal gang - Twenty-one people have been arrested in France and Corsica as part of a financial investigation into suspected members of the so-called "Petit Bar" criminal gang involved in international money laundering. The recent arrests at the weekend follow a wave of arrests and searches which took place on September 28th in Corsica and Switzerland. Investigators seek to dismantle the Petit Bar's international money laundering networks. According to figures put forward by the daily Le Monde, some 48 million offshore and real estate investments have enabled the criminal group to launder money.

Global summit - At least 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of the planet have taken part in a global summit on Monday, aimed at protecting the world's biodiversity. The event, organized by France, the United Nations and the World Bank launched a program called PREZODE which French President Emmanuel Macron presented as an unprecedented international initiative to prevent the emergence of zoonotic diseases and pandemics, which is already mobilizing over 400 researchers and experts across the world. The move comes as scientists suspect that the coronavirus that first infected people in China last year came from an animal source, probably bats. Other leaders at the summit included British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. China, represented by Vice Premier Han Zheng, agreed that “collective efforts” are needed. 

Another initiative announced at the summit involves a new coalition of Mediterranean countries working to better protect the sea from pollution and overfishing and Britain’s Prince Charles launched an “urgent appeal” to private sector leaders to join a new investment alliance targeting $10 billion by 2022 to finance nature-based solutions.

Meanwhile at the start of Monday’s One Planet biodiversity summit French president, Emmanuel Macron pledged to invite young Africans rather than their political leaders to a key France-Africa summit. Macron made the pledge during a video call with the actor Idris Elba. The actor, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ international fund for agricultural development, had asked to speak to the French leader at the start of the summit in Paris. Macron also announced that he would increase France’s contribution to the International Fund for Agricultural Development from €57.8m to €86.7m. Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, asked the president to join them in their campaign to stop the economic shock caused by Covid-19 triggering a global economic crisis, especially in poor African countries.

Business

Republicans in the United States Congress are facing a growing backlash from businesses who say that they’ll cut off campaign contributions to those who voted to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last week. Announcements from a number of heavyweight firms including Amazon, General Electric, American Express and Cisco Systems threaten to cut off fundraising sources for Republicans who will soon be out of power in the White House as well as both chambers of Congress. Reuters reports that the announcements are a sign that some corporate donors are re-assessing their strategy after supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol Building last week in an effort to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory in November’s Presidential election. At least 5 people died in last week’s shameful incidents during which lawmakers were forced into hiding for several hours. 147 Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives voted to challenge Mr Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania and Arizona despite both states formally certifying the results and election officials saying that there were no significant problems with the vote.

Retail sales in the UK have suffered their worst ever sales performance driven by a slump in demand for fashion and homeware products. Figures from the British Retail Consortium for 2020 show that while food sales increased by 5.4 percent on 2019, non-food items fell by 5 percent. The data represents an overall fall of 0.3 percent for 2020 in a year dominated by the impact of Covid-19 and is the worst impact on retail sales since the BRC started collating the figures in 1995. Christmas offered little respite for UK retailers with much of the high street closed. The 5.4 percent increase in food sales was fuelled by shoppers flocking to supermarkets and online grocers to ensure that they were stocked up during the pandemic.

Media reports this morning say that the US private equity firm Silver Lake is in talks to acquire a stake in the New Zealand All Blacks. The transaction would involve a stake of around 15 percent in the three-time World Cup winners and one of the best known international brands in Rugby Union. The All Blacks have burned through nearly half of their cash reserves during the coronavirus pandemic. Sky News says that the 15 percent stake would value the team at around 2 billion US dollars.

Sport

Football - There was one 3rd round tie in the FA Cup last night. West Ham were 1-0 winners at Stockport. Meanwhile the draw has been made for the 4th round with the pick of the ties Manchester United against Liverpool. Non-league Chorley Town’s reward for beating Derby County in the third round is a home draw against Wolves of the Premier League while League two Cheltenham Town will play Premier League giants Manchester City. Crawley of League two will travel to Bournemouth after dumping Leeds United out in round 3. Ties to be played between the 9th and 11th of February.

There was one game in the Scottish Premiership last night. Celtic and Hibs drew 1-1.

There are three games in the English Premier League tonight. Manchester United can go top of the table if they win at Burnley while Sheffield United play Newcastle and Wolves host Everton.

Rugby Union - The European Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup have been suspended by the organisers after the French government ruled that its clubs should not play in the competitions this month. European Professional Rugby says that it has been left with no choice but to cancel matches scheduled for this weekend as well as the 23rd January. The EPC said that it hoped to reschedule games while discussions continue with the French government.

The organisers of the 6 Nations which is due to start next month are in discussions with French officials in bid to convince them that it’s safe for matches to go ahead.

Formula 1 - Cyril Abiteboul has left his role as Renault team principal. The 43-year-old Frenchman leaves as Renault rebrands as Alpine for the new season. Fernando Alonso will return to the sport for the new team to replace Daniel Ricciardo who’s moved to McLaren. Mr Abiteboul thanked the team for trusting him for “many years” particularly with the relaunch and reconstruction of the team in 2016.

Weather

Mainly fine with light variable winds. Top temperature 11 degrees. Overnight lows of 4 degrees on the coast and 2 degrees inland with clear skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 11-14 degrees.

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