French and Riviera News Tuesday 16th February 2021

News

Teacher and parent unions criticize government decision - Teacher and parent unions have hit out at what they describe as a “completely mind-blowing” decision to ease the health protocol in schools in France. The Ministry of Education announced an easing of measures with teachers no longer systematically considered as a contact case and there is no automatic closure of classes in the event of a contamination with the British Covid variant. Faced with the new protocol, the unions above all denounce the difficulty for teaching staff to constantly adapt to new measures.

Exceptional Covid screening campaign for the Hauts-de-France – Meanwhile the regional Health Agency for the Hauts-de-France has announced that due to the increased circulation of the British Covid Variant in the region an “exceptional” screening campaign is to be organised in Dunkirk along with 2,400 additional doses of the vaccine being allocated. The announcement comes as authorities face a “worsening” of the health situation. Free tests are to be given on Thursday and Friday without an appointment and without a prescription. Dunkirk and the surrounding area have, for several days, seen a worsening of the pandemic marked by a significant proportion of cases of the British variant.

Culture Minister announced “scientific experiments” - France’s Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot has announced that “scientific experiments will be carried out in Paris and Marseille in order to determine if theatres are risk areas” adding that the “test concerts” would take place in March and April. Speaking to French media on Monday evening the minister said "We are working on it. I am very optimistic about seated festivals I keep my fingers crossed”.

Classroom closures due to cases of Covid - The academy of Nice has announced the closure of thirteen classes in schools in the Alpes Maritimes, due to cases of Covid, including seven in Nice. Here is the list published on Monday:

Les Orangers (Nice): one class

Les Eucalyptus (Nice): one class

Saint-Barthélemy elementary school (Nice): one class

Primary, Sun school group (Roquesteron): one class

Saint-Vincent-de-Paul elementary school (Nice): two classes

Pablo Picasso College (Vallauris): one class

Parc Impérial College (Nice): one class

Val Fleuri School (Cagnes-sur-Mer): one class

Kindergarten Ravet (Saint-Laurent-du-Var): one class

Kindergarten Les Lauriers Roses (Nice): one class

Kindergarten Les Mésanges (Nice): one class

Kindergarten Roquebrune-Cap-Martin: one class

In other news 

81-year-old woman hit by train at level crossing - An 81-year-old woman has been hit and killed by a train at the level crossing in Hyères in the Var. The accident occurred at 4pm on Monday afternoon near Hyères train station. Local residents alerted emergency services. At the scene police investigating the exact cause of the accident pointed out that while “it is rare that incidents involving pedestrians occur at this urban crossing with trains approaching at a moderate speed the station, the safety barriers do not apply only to road vehicles, but also to pedestrians”. Following the incident about thirty passengers were evacuated and traffic was disrupted in Hyères following the tragic accident.

La Trinité and Cagnes sur Mer amongst towns recognized for state of natural disaster - Several towns in the region have been recognized as a state of natural disaster for bad weather during 2019 and 2020. Published in the Official Journal of the French Republic on Saturday February 13th, the following places have been recognized:

• from November 22, 2019 to November 24, 2019: La Trinité;

• June 4, 2020: Cagnes-sur-Mer;

• October 2, 2020: Caille, Massoins, Pierrefeu;

• from October 2, 2020 to October 3, 2020: Carros, Escragnolles, Revest-les-Roches, Toudon, Valdeblore and Venanson;

• from October 2, 2020 to October 4, 2020: municipality of La Bollène-Vésubie.

Those concerned have ten days from the publication to file an estimated statement of the losses with their insurance companies, in order to be entitled to compensation.

BNP Paribas - The French bank BNP Paribas has announced that as part of its restrictive policy to fight deforestation it would stop investing in firms producing or buying beef or soybeans cultivated on land in the Amazon cleared or converted since 2008 and only fund companies with zero deforestation strategies by 2025. Four French NGOs said the bank’s initiative sent a clear message to companies trading in the Amazon and Cerrado regions but regretted the targets did not go further or come sooner. 

Lyon orders illegal speed bumps to be demolished - The court of appeal in Lyon has ordered the mayor of the city to demolish illegal speed bumps. The court considers that local authorities have not respected guidelines set out by law. The decision could well set a precedent for the Alpes Maritimes and the Var region. Following the announcement Thierry Modolo president of the Var association “pour une mobilité serene et durable” said that the “decision halts for the time being, the installation of speed bumps which are dangerous not only to motorist but bikers, buses, ambulances and firefighters”.

Outdoor swimming pool in Antibes opens its doors to the public - The outdoor swimming pool in Antibes has opened its doors to the public. Following a strict health protocol due to the health crisis, the pool opened on Monday. Wearing a mask is compulsory and social distancing and barrier gestures must be respected.

Opening hours and prior reservations: Note - some slots require a prior reservation at 04 92 90 68 10. This applies to the period from 12pm to 1:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 11:30am to 1pm on Wednesday. Access without reservation takes place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 11:30am and from 1:30pm to 5:30pm and also on Wednesday from 1:30pm to 4:30pm, Saturday from 11am to 5:30pm and Sunday from 8:30am to 1:45pm.

Prices remain unchanged: 2.50 euros entry at a reduced price and 3.50 euros full price for a resident of Antibes, 5 euros if you live in the Sophia Antipolis urban community and 6 euros if you are from elsewhere.

In the Navy - The French Navy has launched a major recruitment campaign with 4,000 posts to be filled this year. With a base located in Toulon according to the Human Resources manager the salaries are interesting “for newcomers, and competitive” and more importantly, working in the army is no longer reserved for men. Women are more than welcome there: "Recruitment does not distinguish between gender. According to HR 15% is made up of women in the navy, and the objective is to increase to 21% or 9,000 women by 2030. For more information go to the website www.etremarin.fr.

Business

The founder of Microsoft Bill Gates has warned that manufacturing could challenge climate goals. The billionaire software developer turned philanthropist has invested more than 2 billion dollars towards the development of clean technologies but says that neither governments or investors are working hard enough to solve the problem of manufacturing. In an interview with Reuters, Mr Gates said that there is currently no way of making steel or concrete without releasing climate-warming emissions. Manufacturing of construction staples such as steel and concrete accounts for roughly a third of global greenhouse emissions making the sector far more polluting than transport which is receiving much more attention in policies to tackle climate change. Mr Gates says that it’s the manufacturing sector which concerns him the most and he’s calling for increased research and innovation to tackle the problem.

Oil prices have risen today as arctic weather conditions in Texas shut wells and refineries across the state. Texas is the largest crude producing state in America and the icy weather has been hampering production over the past few days. Prices have also been affected by rising Middle East tensions after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi Group said that it had struck airports in Saudi Arabia with drones raising supply concerns. Sentiment is also being affected by optimism over a global economic recovery amid accelerating Covid-19 vaccine rollouts. Brent Crude was trading up 0.2 percent a little earlier at 63 dollars 41 with West Texas Intermediate up 1 percent at 60 dollars and 09 cents.

The pound has hit its highest level against the US dollar in nearly three years on rising optimism about an end to lockdown in the UK. Sterling rose above 1 US dollar 39 on Monday and also rose to a 9 month high against the euro at 1 euro 14.7 cents. More than 15 million people in the UK have now had their first coronavirus jab raising hopes that restrictions can soon be lifted and that the economy can start to recover. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce his plans for easing lockdown next Monday. He said that the plans would be “cautious but irreversible”. Schools in the UK could reopen on March 8th.

Sport

Cricket - India are closing in on a big victory on day 4 of the second Test against England in Chennai. The tourists are batting in their second innings chasing a world record 482 to win the match and they’ve already lost 5 wickets. England had reached 90-5 after 36 overs still requiring an almost impossible 394 runs to win the match.

Football - There were two games in the English Premier League on Monday. Timo Werner scored for the first time in 14 games as Chelsea beat Newcastle 2-0 to rise to 4th place in the table while West Ham are up to 5th thanks to a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Round of 16 Champions League 1st leg ties are getting underway this evening. Barcelona play Paris St Germain while Leipzig play Liverpool.

Formula 1 - McLaren have unveiled their new car with drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris behind the wheel this season. Ricciardo, who moved from Renault (now Alpine) says that he really believes in the personnel at McLaren and that the team is doing everything that it can to be a real contender in the championship. Norris, who contracted coronavirus over the winter said that he’s looking forward to the challenge and hopes that McLaren can add to the improvements made last season. McLaren finished third in the constructors championship last season.

Tennis - Naomi Osaka is through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The third seed cruised past Hsieh Su-Wei in just 66 minutes as she came through 6-2 6-2. Osaka will meet the winner of the quarter final game between Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

In the men’s event Grigor Dimitrov is bidding to reach the semi-finals. He’s up against Aslan Karatsev of Russia and took the first set of the quarter final 6-2.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 14 degrees. Overnight lows of 7-9 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Partially cloudy with highs of 13-16 degrees.

And Finally 

A recent survey has shown that one in ten couples spend more than 15 minutes endlessly scrolling through movie options before settling on something, it’s not surprising that 30% have had arguments about finding a movie to watch. But now a clever new website has been launched that matches couples to a movie they'll both enjoy watching after just a few clicks of a button. Movie Matcher, which uses a clever algorithm to suggest a movie you'll both enjoy, has just been launched - and it couldn't be easier to use.

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