French and Riviera News Tuesday 22nd December 2020

News

Travel to and from the UK - Measures concerning the travel to and from the UK due to the new variant of Covid-19 have been agreed between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron and will be announced later today and come into effect from Wednesday.

More than 40 countries have now banned UK arrivals due to the mutation of Covid-19 in London and the South East of England. Lorry drivers in Kent have spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles waiting for the border with France to reopen. The Channel is a vital trade route, with about 10,000 lorries a day travelling between Dover and Calais in peak periods such as Christmas, largely bringing in the freshest produce.

Meanwhile the Scottish Seafood Association is calling for government aid to compensate members who it says could lose millions of pounds after France closed its border. The chief executive said, “we call upon the French, at the very least, to allow perishable goods to flow".

“We are taken for fools” French stuck in UK – On Monday a few hours before their flight or their train, thousands of French people in the British capital or in the south-east of the UK saw their return to France compromised three days before Christmas with many expressing their complete dismay saying “We are taken for fools”.

France closed its borders with the United Kingdom on Sunday for at least 48 hours, following the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's surprise announcement on Saturday 19 December. Many Londoners left the capital in an emergency before neighbouring countries decided to close their borders.

France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex explained on Twitter, this temporary suspension of connections for 48 hours should allow "clarity on the health situation across the Channel" and "to work on a suitable solution for our nationals present in the UK."

Since many French who are blocked in the UK have embarked in a race for a PCR test where it’s not free and can sometimes cost up to 400 euros.

Health situation - Meanwhile France’s Minister of Health has described the situation in France as "rather fragile and even precarious". According to the latest figures from Public Health France Covid-19 claimed 354 lives in hospitals in France in the past 24 hours and 5,797 new cases were reported on Monday. 25,201 patients are hospitalized due to Covid of which 1,284 have been admitted in the past 24 hours. 2,737 patients have been hospitalized in intensive care to date, of which 179 are new admissions in the past 24 hours.

According to the French government the situation “remains on a straight line with the virus no longer decreasing and not massively increasing either”.  

Vaccine approved – On Monday a vaccine against the coronavirus was cleared for use in France and other European Union member states as regulators granted conditional approval to a vaccine developed by US firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

France along with Germany and several other countries said it hoped to begin vaccinating people on Sunday 27th December. Conditions for emergency approval oblige the companies to submit follow-up data on their vaccine for the next year. The regulator said the vaccine would be licensed for use in people over 16 years of age, with some exceptions. 

Culture - Culture workers have seized France’s top administrative court to contest the government’s decision to keep theatres and cinemas closed due to Covid-19 at least until the 7th January.

The decision has sparked outrage with many appalled that the arts in France are not considered to be essential. France was the first to set up a culture ministry, in 1959, and still counts more than 16,000 libraries, 440 performance spaces, 2,000 cinemas, 1,200 museums nationwide.

In other news……

Man shot by fellow hunter - A man has been injured after being shot by a fellow hunter in the Vaucluse department at the weekend. According to local reports, a man has been questioned by police after apparently mistaking the hunter for an animal. The incident comes just weeks after a 23-year-old British man was fatally shot by a hunter in the Lot department in south-west France.

Missing person - Police in South western France have launched an appeal following the worrying disappearance of 33-year-old mother of two, Delphine Jubillard, who disappeared overnight six days ago on Tuesday 15th, in Cagnac-les-Mines in the Tarn region.

The mother left her home on foot with her two dogs, leaving her two children, aged 6 and 18 months with her husband, she has not been seen since.

The local police have invited residents to take part in a mass search organized on Wednesday 23rd December in the region. Anyone who might have any information is invited to contact the police.

Government to meet on 13th January to discuss return to school - President Macron has said that the government will meet on 13 January to discuss the return to school. Speaking during the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday the President said that the purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the agenda for the first six months of the year and to establish priorities.

Flood Risk Prevention Plan - As part of its Flood Risk Prevention Plan, the City of Cannes has tested an innovative protection system against intense rains that can be installed in 10 minutes. The 300m metre long barrier is mobile, modular and easy to deploy. It will be stored in the municipal garage in La Bocca, and therefore near areas highly exposed to the risk of flooding.

New certificate for pet owners – France’s Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie has presented the government’s new regulations for pet owners. The minister insisted that "an animal is neither a consumable product, nor a toy", adding that 100,000 pets, especially dogs and cats, are abandoned each year in France.

To fight against this phenomenon, the government is counting on "a compulsory awareness certificate for anyone who adopts or purchases a pet”. The document will specify what the purchase or adoption involves "in terms of obligations of care, vaccination, the need to exercise the animal and the financial cost” the certificate will be introduced next year.

Bedbugs - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry for rat control, insect control and disinfection has recorded a 76% increase in professional interventions linked to bedbugs in France between 2019 and 2020.

According to figures, professional interventions for bedbugs exploded in France in 2020. Whether in private homes, hotels, public transport, movie theaters or retirement homes, bedbugs were everywhere with interventions between 2018 and 2019, to eradicate them increasing by 30%.

An action plan has been launched and the government has set up “stop-punaises.gouv.fr” website and created a number providing advice on action to be taken in the event of an invasion: 0806.706.806.

In an attempt to get rid of bedbug’s authorities say it is advisable to wash your bedding and clothes at a temperature above at least 60 ° or to freeze them in bin bags at -20 ° C for at least 72 hours. If the situation persists, it’s necessary to call in professionals specialized in eradicating them.

Storm Alex - French singer Julien Doré has raised nearly a million euros for the victims of Storm Alex. The singer, songwriter in collaboration with the association Secours Populaire launched a raffle to raise funds to help the valleys of the Alpes Maritimes hit by Storm Alex in early October.

Business

After several EU countries closed their borders to the UK shares in London dropped and the pound lost ground. London's FTSE 100 index fell as much as 3%, before recovering slightly and ending 1.7% lower, as travel firms and others saw big declines. The main German market fell 2.8%, while in France the key bourse dropped 2.4%.

Meanwhile Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to Europe, while Germany's DHL is stopping some parcels into the UK. The moves, just days before Christmas, come amid new transport restrictions and chaos at ports due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus in the UK. Letters and postcards are unaffected, DHL said. A shortage of storage space means some senders will have their parcels and packages returned, it said.

Activewear brand Lorna Jane is being taken to court over claims its clothes could stop the spread of Covid-19. The company had claimed in July that its "anti-virus" activewear had been sprayed with a substance called LJ Shield. On Monday, Australia's consumer watchdog launched federal court action against the firm for allegedly making false and misleading claims.

And - The iPhone company is still working on an electric car concept with new battery technology that would be less expensive than current ones and has announced plans for 2024.

Apple is reportedly advancing in autonomous driving technology and has set itself a goal of producing a passenger car by 2024 that can be fitted with its own electric battery technology.

Sport

Football - Tammy Abraham scored twice as Chelsea ended their recent mini-slump by beating West Ham United at Stamford Bridge 3-0 seeing them move up to fifth in the Premier League.

And Burnley beat Wolves 2-1 much to the boss of Wolves disappointment who accused referee Lee Mason of “not being good enough”.

Cricket - England is to hold emergency talks with Sri Lanka Cricket this week before they decide whether next month's Test series can go ahead. The new strain of Coivd-19in the south-east of England and the tougher restrictions on travel have raised concerns over the two Tests that were postponed in March and are now due to take place on January 14th and 22nd.

It has already been decided there will be no media present because of the Covid.

Rugby Union - Saracens are in talks with Eddie Jones to ensure their England players go into the Six Nations in peak condition, after receiving confirmation the Championship season won’t start until March.

Weather

Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze high of 15 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var.

This evening going down to 9 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Wednesday and Christmas Eve remaining much the same with some cloudy patches and sunny intervals highs of 16 degrees.

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