French and Riviera News Tuesday 24th November 2020


Marseille - 14 people have been arrested in Marseille and half a million euros seized following a year-long investigation into a drug trafficking network. Nine kilos of drugs and four firearms were also found by police who had been investigating the gang working out of the northern districts of the city. Out of the 14 people arrested, ten were imprisoned, two were placed under judicial supervision, and two have since been released.

Meanwhile police at the French-Spanish border have reported that 4 tonnes of cannabis, hidden in a load of fruit and vegetables, have been seized by customs officials over the past two weeks.  The value of the goods is estimated at 13.7 million euros. In early November, customs officials checked several trucks from Spain on the A9 motorway, mainly carrying fruit and vegetables. Several people were arrested. Some have already been sentenced in Perpignan.

Covid-19 figures - France has reported less than 5,000 new cases of Covid-19 and 501 additional deaths in 24 hours. With 4,452 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, this is the first time that this figure has dropped below the 5,000 daily cases mark since September 28th showing that the epidemic continues to decline.

Taking a closer look at the situation in the region and according to Public Health France through the website, on November 23rd the Alpes-Maritimes recorded 479 current hospitalisations due to COVID-19, including 78 in intensive care. 1,894 patients have been discharged from hospital and to date 387 people have died in hospital since the start of the epidemic in the Alpes Maritimes.

For the Var 410 people are currently hospitalised due to COVID-19, including 58 in intensive care. 1,961 patients have been discharged from hospital and to date, 357 people have died in hospital since the start of the epidemic.

Monaco - In Monaco, one new case of Covid-19 was declared on Monday bringing the total to 583 residents affected by the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. 23 people are currently hospitalised and 28 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Meanwhile since Monday, employees in Monaco have been invited to get vaccinated against the flu. The first phase and second phase of the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in the Principality was launched in October for residents over 65, all Monegasques and it’s now available to employees covered by Monaco’s health system for free.

Lockdown measures - French President Emmanuel Macron is to speak this evening at 8pm, to discuss the consequences of the lockdown. Macron is expected to announce the stages of a gradual exit from lockdown. While retailers and those considered during lockdown to be “non-essential”, are expected to reopen possibly from Friday 27th November, several sectors await news on their businesses such as sport clubs, cinemas, theatres, bars, restaurants, hotels.

Meanwhile following a meeting on Monday with representatives from the industry and France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex, a decision on the opening of ski resorts is to be announced in two weeks’ time and will depend heavily on the health situation at that time.

Place de la République - France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has said that he is “shocked at behavior from police in the capital following images released on social media”. 500 tents had been installed by associations on the Place de la République on Monday evening to raise awareness about the living conditions of migrants. Barely an hour after the installation, the police began to remove part of the tents, sometimes with people still inside. The minister has since requested a detailed report on the reality of the facts from the Prefect of Police by midday today.

Sarkozy trial – Meanwhile the trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been abruptly adjourned pending a medical report on former top judge. Gilbert Azibert had requested a postponement, arguing that heart and lung problems prevented him from attending court leading to all of the defendant’s refusal of appearing via video link. Sarkozy vigorously contests the accusations of bribery and attended Monday’s short hearing in person. Sarkozy is the first former French president to appear in court as a defendant - although his predecessor as president, Jacques Chirac, was convicted of corruption in a fake-job.

Monoprix - French supermarket Monoprix has defended its latest advertising campaign in a statement saying that the group wanted to “bring a little lightness and humour to these gloomy times by making its customers smile”. To inform its customers of the closure of non-essential departments, Monoprix had opted for an ironic in-