French and Riviera News Tuesday 14th December 2021

News 

Scientific Council warns of spread of new covid variant - France's Scientific Council has warned that the new covid variant Omicron, is spreading "extremely fast". In its latest opinion the council said that the variant could experience a "rapid growth" in France "in the coming weeks". The Council also expressed its position on the obligation to vaccinate 5 to 11-year-olds in France, saying that it had, for the time being reservations and was awaiting further validation on a European level. Concerning Christmas and family gatherings, the Council advised to limiting the number of people around a table at Christmas time, as was the case last year. It also expressed the need to wear a mask at large gatherings and insisted on a return to working from home and for companies to refrain from holding Christmas parties or receptions.

Meanwhile it was on Monday that the United Kingdom became the first country to declare at least one death from the new variant. Hard hit by the pandemic with more than 146,000 deaths and around 50,000 daily covid infections the UK government on Monday announced a return to working from home in an attempt to avoid hospitals becoming submerged.

Strike action announced for the region's rail network - The SNCF has announced strike action for the first weekend of the Christmas holidays from the 17th to 19th December. The action is expected to affect the southeast rail service. The action comes as employees demand a "covid bonus" as well as a "revaluation of wages". Management still has until the end of the week to negotiate and make a proposal however failing to do so could see disruptions on the region's rail network from Friday 17th December.

Rescue operation in the Var - A 64-year-old cyclist has been rescued by helicopter in Le Rayol Canadel in the Var. The incident occurred on Monday afternoon after the cyclist fell on his bike while riding on a path difficult to access. Firefighters from Cavalaire, Saint-Maximin, Brignoles and Draguignan were deployed.

Arrest - A 23-year-old man has been arrested in the Vaucluse suspected of having laundered 19 million euros in cryptocurrency. Police made the arrest at his home where he lived with his parents following several weeks of investigation. The investigation continues.

PACA region second favourite region for the French - According to the results of an unprecedented survey the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region is the second favourite region for the French. The recent survey was unveiled by TF1 on Monday December 13th and saw Brittany rank first. The survey also showed that 94% of French agree on the importance of protecting and promoting regional traditions with the attachment changing from region to region.

French opposition leaders seize the CSA - Opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron have seized the CSA following the announcement that the Head of State is to give an hour-long interview on Wednesday December 15th about his five-year term. Four months ahead of the Presidential elections in France Macron, who has not yet formalised his candidacy for the re-election, will be questioned by journalists on the balance sheet of his time in office and his vision of the future. However, the Republican party leader Valarie Precresse has opposed to the interview along with political party leaders from both the left and the right demanding an end to this "open secret" of running for president as well as accusations that Macron is campaigning with state money. They also suspect him of using the French presidency of the EU, from January, to boost his candidacy and campaign.

Business 

France's Finance minister has announced a new loan to help companies, as well as flexibilities in the granting and repayment of certain loans. Faced with supply problems in certain sectors in raw materials or energy, the government presented on Monday a new type of loans for industry, amounting to between 50,000 and 5 million euros and with a duration of up to ten years. The Ministry of Finance also said that the loan guaranteed by the State, from which companies benefited during the health crisis, is extended from the end of December 2021 to the end of June 2022.

The notaries of France have revealed that the level of property transactions in France was particularly high in 2021. It seems that the real estate is a sector which is resisting the health crisis driven by the new desires from buyers, who are moving towards properties in less densely populated and larger areas. The sector reported an increase of 14.5% in October 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, when an all-time high was reached.

The Swiss bank UBS was sentenced on Monday to a total of 1.8 billion euros for aggravated laundering of tax fraud and illegal bank canvassing in France between 2004 and 2012. The Paris Court of Appeal has largely reduced the sentence of the wealth management giant, which was fined 3.7 billion euros and 800 million euros in damages in February 2019. 

Amazon is facing questions over health and safety policies at a warehouse in the US state of Illinois after six workers died when the building was destroyed by a tornado. The company says its team had "worked quickly" in response to the tornado.

Elon Musk has been named personality of the year by Time magazine, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX is also the richest man on the planet. As much admired as criticized, it is difficult to remain indifferent to his achievements as to his excesses. Musk is at the head of a fortune estimated by Forbes at more than $ 260 billion.

Sport 

Football - Manchester United's Premier League match against Brentford tonight has been postponed after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Old Trafford club. The league says the decision was made "following guidance from medical advisers due to the exceptional circumstances" of the outbreak.

And in the Champions League holders Chelsea will play French side Lille in the last 16 after the draw for the knockout stages took place for a second time. A "technical problem" caused an error in the initial draw, which Uefa said had been "declared void". Premier League Champions Manchester City against Portugal's Sporting Lisbon while six-time winners Liverpool play three-time winners Inter Milan. Manchester United against Spanish champions Atletico Madrid. In the standout tie of the round, 13-time champions Real Madrid come up against France's Paris St-Germain.

Formula One - Formula 1's governing body the FIA is under intense scrutiny in the wake of the controversial end to the 2021 world championship in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. F1 teams and drivers were dismayed by the events at the end of the Grand Prix, after a season in which many have complained about the consistency of the FIA's decision making.

Olympics - The 2024 Paris Olympics will break with tradition and hold the opening ceremony along the River Seine, with crowds of more than 600,000 expected. It will be the first ceremony held outside of a stadium at a summer Games. Organisers said it would be "the most spectacular and accessible ceremony in Olympic history". The 2024 Olympics takes place from 26 July to 11 August.

Basketball – AS Monaco has announced that it has ended its collaboration with its coach Zvezdan Mitrovic. After five seasons at the head of the club and having led the team to the title of Champion of France of ProB in 2015 as well as the leaders Cup three times and above all on April 30th the Eurocup taking a place in the Euroleague, both parties have come to a mutual agreement and from Wednesday, Sasa Obradovic will be on the bench and will lead the "Roca Team" in their next crucial match.

Weather 

Sunny with a moderate breeze and highs of 15 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Mougins, Saint Paul de Vence, Antibes and Saint Tropez. This evening going down to 7 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday - Remaining fine across the region with a gentle breeze and highs of 14-15 degrees. 

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