French and Riviera News Tuesday 20th April 2021

News

France’s Health Minister welcomes a slight improvement in the health situation but calls for caution - France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran has confirmed that there has been a slight decrease in the Covid epidemic over the last five days while insisting that the situation remains “fragile”. The minister said that there have been fewer new cases of Covid on a daily basis with a drop from 40,000 to around 33,000. Véran confirmed the scheduled reopening of schools and defended the idea of ​​regionalised reopening, depending on the health situation in each department of France. Olivier Véran also announced the creation of a new hospital near Saint-Malo by 2027 and welcomed the fact that there are currently 350,000 daily vaccinations being carried out in France.

“Covid free” high speed trains in Italy - In Italy, "Covid-free" high-speed trains have been introduced on the Rome to Milan line. The measure is to reassure passengers with travellers, drivers and inspectors presenting a negative Covid test less than 48 hours before boarding. The experimental service which, even allows passengers to get tested at the station and also applies to those already vaccinated, could be extended to the whole country.

Knickers - Lingerie store managers have sent knickers to France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex. Currently considered as owners of "non-essential" businesses, they wish to express their dissatisfaction with the forced closure of their stores. Gathered as a collective, called Action Culottée, the managers explain that it is "a humorous but above all symbolic action" to "alert people to the very critical situation experienced by hundreds of underwear shops throughout the whole of France”. They conclude that “the truth is that we are ALL essential," insisting that "local commerce is precious" and that it "contributes to the local economy and sustains our communities”.

In other news 

Emmanuel Macron visit Montpellier to talk about security - French President Emmanuel Macron has shown his commitment to “security” during a visit on Monday April 19th to Montpellier. Macron visited the poorest districts of the city with the intention to talk about daily security however local residents questioned him on “the lack of diversity in a difficult neighborhood”. Several inhabitants exposed the Head of State to the problems in an area where 58% of the 22,000 inhabitants live under the poverty line and where the unemployment rate reaches 47%. Speaking in front of the television cameras one resident explained his shock after his 8-year-old son asked, “if the name Pierre really existed or was it only in books”. In the exchange caught on film the president can be seen raising his eyebrows.

Government launches “Youth Solidarity Quarters” - Meanwhile on Monday April 19th the French government announced the creation of a new fund entitled “Youth Solidarity Quarters”. Endowed with 10 million euros the fund is for young people in priority neighborhoods and is intended to help associations for residents of "priority city neighborhoods" under 25 years of age. Associations wishing to benefit from funding will have to submit their projects to the prefectures, which will be responsible for studying them and possibly subsidising them.

Number of migrants being arrested at border in Menton explodes - Police at the Menton border have said that the number of migrants being arrested has exploded with up to 200 daily arrests being made. Every week hundreds of migrants who have left their countries try to cross the border between Ventimiglia and Menton and with the increase in police checks due to the lockdown the number of arrested has increased dramatically. According to figures from the Interior Ministry nearly 24,000 people from Italy have been refused entry to France over the past five months because they were unable to present proper papers, an increase of 143%.

Cannes Film Festival - Annette, a new film from Holy Motors director Leos Carax and starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, has been picked to open this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is Carax’s first English-language film and is set in Los Angeles. The film will screen in Cannes on 6th July, after the festival’s opening ceremony, and will simultaneously go on general release in France. Holy Motors, Carax’s last film, screened in competition in 2012.

French Formula One Grand Prix confirmed - The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier has confirmed that the French Formula Grand Prix will return to Le Castellet circuit this year from the 25th to the 27th June. Last year’s race had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

European Super League - French president Emmanuel Macron has saluted French football team Paris Saint-Germain for steering clear of plans for a controversial new European Super League (ESL). Six English clubs and three teams from Italy and Spain say they want to start the new competition from August. President Macron said he was pleased that PSG - who are second in Ligue 1 - were not among the ESL’s 12 founding members. A French government spokesman said “The president welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate in a project that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit.”

Business

Police in Texas are to serve search warrants on Tesla today to secure data from a fatal vehicle crash. On Monday Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that company checks showed that the car’s auto pilot driver assistance system was not engaged. Police say that evidence including witness statements clearly indicated that there was nobody in the driver’s seat of the model S when it crashed into a tree near Houston killing two people on Saturday night. Authorities say that a tweet by Mr Musk saying that the data logs retrieved by the company so far ruled out the use of the auto pilot system was the first information that officials had heard from the company. The crash is the 28th Tesla accident to be investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which regulates vehicle safety. The crash is also being probed by the National Transportation Safety Board. Reports say that the 2019 Tesla model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road crashing into a tree and bursting into flames. Tesla shares close down 3.4% on the news.

The Bank of England and the UK Treasury have announced the setting up of a task force to explore the possibility of a central-bank digital currency. The aim is to look at the risks and opportunities involved in creating a new kind of digital money. The currency would be issued by the Bank for use by households and businesses and would exist alongside cash and bank deposits. The Bank of England has previously said that it’s interested in a central-bank digital currency because this is a period of significant change in money and payments. The use of cash in financial transactions has been steadily declining in recent years while debit card payments have been increasing. Use of credit cards and direct debit’s have also been increasing.

The UK supermarket chain Tesco has been fined £7.56 million for selling out of date food at three stores in Birmingham. Offending items were found in Tesco Express stores and at a Tesco Metro. The fine was handed down after Tesco admitted to 22 breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene regulations with the offences occurring  between 2016 and 2017. The firm was given the penalty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Monday and ordered to pay a further £95,500 in prosecution costs. Tesco said it had taken immediate action to rectify problems.

Sport

Football – There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Leeds United denied Liverpool a place in the top four after holding them to a one all draw at Elland Road.

Meanwhile, the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he is opposed to the European Super League. Liverpool are one of 12 clubs who have agreed to join the breakaway competition. Klopp says that he understands the opposition from fans but is determined to help sort it out and will remain as Liverpool manager.

Spurs have sacked José Mourinho after just 17 months in charge. Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs manager in November 2019. They’re currently seventh in the English Premier League and have picked up only two points from their last three league games. They were also knocked out of the Europa League in March. Spurs play Manchester City in the League Cup Final next Sunday. There’s one game tonight. Chelsea host Brighton.

Formula One – The Williams driver George Russell has issued a public apology following his crash with Valtteri Bottas in the Emelia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday. Russell said that he takes responsibility for the risk he took in trying to pass the Finn’s Mercedes. There was an angry exchange between the two drivers following the crash which happened as Russell lost control on a wet part of the track trying to pass Bottas for ninth place. After the race, Russell accused Bottas of a  “lack of respect” and he questioned whether he would’ve defended differently if he’d been racing another driver. In a statement later he said he’d taken the risk and it “didn’t pay off”.

Tennis – Roger Federer has confirmed that he will play at this year’s French Open as he continues his return from injury. The 39-year-old is making his comeback after two knee operations and hasn’t played a Grand Slam since January 2020. He made his return after 14 months out at the Qatar Open last month but hasn’t played since. He’ll now play the clay court Geneva Open in May followed by the French Open which starts on May the 30th.

Weather

Mainly fine with light to moderate south westerly winds. Top temperatures 17-18 degrees. Overnight lows of 10-12 degrees with showers developing.

Wednesday and Thursday - Rain tomorrow, clearing during the afternoon. Partially cloudy on Thursday. Highs of 15-17 degrees.

And Finally 

A recent study has concluded that men who conspicuously wear large luxury product logos on their shirts are seen as being more promiscuous and less trustworthy. A US psychologist set out to see whether ostentatious, blingy clothing made men appear more attractive to women. The theory was that such 'audacious displays of wealth' are enticing because they signal a man's economic power and ability to invest in their offspring's futures. However, the results of the study suggest that, in humans, luxury displays are seen more as an indicator of one's investment in mating than in reproduction.

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