French and Riviera News Tuesday 29th December 2020

News

Man dies after trying to swim ashore - A 50-year-old man has died while trying to moor his boat in the port of Ayguade on the île du Levant in the Var. The incident occurred on Monday morning shortly after 10am when the man got into difficulty due to strong winds and was forced to jump into the water to swim ashore, only to be hit by a floating object. 

Jean Castex to visit Toulon - Prime Minister Jean Castex is to visit Toulon on January 5th. Castex had been expected on December 18th but was forced to postpone after having to self-isolate following the Head of State Emmanuel Macron testing positive for Covid-19. The Prime Minister is to attend the signature of a state-region contract at the Var préfecture as well as visit a number of civil and military sites. The Prime Minister will end his visit with a meeting with the mayor of Toulon Hubert Falco at the town hall.


Mayor of Nice campaigns for vaccination – The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, has launched a campaign for immediate vaccination in the Alpes-Maritimes. Estrosi campaigned on Monday for the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 to begin "immediately" in the Alpes-Maritimes, a department facing an upsurge in the epidemic. During a press conference Estrosi said "we want the vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 to start immediately and not in eight days’ time”. According to the mayor, the incidence rate in the Alpes-Maritimes department was 323 per 100,000 on December 27th, more than double the national average.

Illegal party interrupted by the police - Meanwhile police have intervened after a party took place in Mandelieu despite the current curfew restrictions due to Covid-19. 40 partygoers were at the site at the weekend when police arrived. Tickets to the evening had been sold prior to the event at 15 euros each.  Partygoers were fined 135 euros while the person organizing the party was placed in police custody and is to appear in court facing a 35,000 euro fine and a possible one-year prison sentence.

Calls to boycott Macron government - Gilles Lazzarini, a resident of Villeneuve-Loubet and founder in 2013, of the association "World Organization for the Protection of the Environment" (OMPE), and this year creator of a new political party the P5 (Political Party for Peace and Protection of the Planet) has called for the French to turn off their television on December 31st between 8pm and 8.15pm to show their disapproval of the Macron government ".

Lazzarini claims that Macron is quite simply a “surprise candidate for the Élysée Palace and nothing more” calling for people to boycott the Head of State. He says that “Caregivers, yellow vests, shopkeepers and in particular restaurant owners, the world of sport and culture and teachers, all those who suffer or who lack freedom or purchasing power" should take action. 

Strike action - The strike by dustmen in Marseille has seen rubbish pile up in the city as the CRS were deployed on Monday to allow access to a blocked warehouse. The strike which has so far lasted 12 days and looks set to continue, has affected the heart of the city as well as popular neighbourhoods in the north of Marseille.

Monaco support for valleys devastated by Storm Alex - HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has visited Breil sur Roya to show Monaco’s continual support of the area devastated by Storm Alex in early October. Since the disaster struck Monaco has provided financial and logistical assistance to the valleys.  

Defense Council - A new defense council will be held today by videoconference, with the French government expected to make new announcements early January. Many questions are being asked as France faces a rise in Covid cases in certain regions with the country divided in two and the possibility of a third lockdown.

The reopening of cultural places scheduled for January 7th as well as restaurants and bars for the 20th is also being questioned. With France’s Health Minister claiming on Sunday that the average number of daily contaminations, is around 15,000, meaning that France has not reached the figure expected by the government of 5,000 new cases each day.

Figures over Christmas period should be considered with caution - Meanwhile it would appear that figures for new contaminations and hospitalization are notably distorted due to the closure of many laboratories and public holidays and should be considered with caution. While French Health Minister mentioned a daily average of 15,000 contaminations on the same day December 27th the government website posted a lower figure of 3,093 new contaminations.  The figures for new infections have dropped from more than 20,000 to less than 5,000 in a few days but are expected to rise again. Hence several indicators should be considered with caution. The first indicator is that of the number of new positive cases. In the lead up to the holiday period the number of tests being carried out exploded in France.

From December 14th to 20th, "2,272,074 people were tested for Covid” compared to “1,304,856 the previous week”, according to Public Health France. This represents an increase in the number of screenings of 74%. And "half of the tests performed concern people without symptoms."  Tests carried out in anticipation of family reunions have therefore made it possible to identify more asymptomatic people, who usually go undetected by the health authorities, but also to test more healthy people, which has the consequence of lowering the rate of positivity. In addition, the screening campaigns launched in four French cities in the run-up to the holidays have also contributed to the deceptive drop in the positivity rate. The daily evolution of confirmed cases in France should therefore be considered with caution.

Mali - Three French soldiers have been killed in Mali after a device exploded in front of their vehicle. To date 47 soldiers have been killed since the start of the French intervention in the country in 2013.

Director of tourism for Verbier claims incorrect figures - The director of tourism for Verbier Simon Wiget, has said that the reports that 200 Britons fled during the night to escape quarantine is “totally wrong”. On Sunday the local council said that around “200 out of the 420 or so British holidaymakers in the Swiss ski resort had simply left the resort.” Since December 14th, the Swiss government has imposed a ten-day quarantine on all travelers from the United Kingdom and South Africa. According to Wiget there was a misunderstanding due to a translation problem as he insists that the figure of 200 is for him “absolutely incorrect”.

Storm Bella - The Landes and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques remain on an orange weather alert this morning with snow forecast and icy conditions expected. Meanwhile the orange alert for high waves has been lifted for southern Corsica. On Monday evening some 10,000 homes were still deprived of electricity throughout France, due to Storm Bella.

Anti-food waste - The French government has announced several new initiatives in France to reduce “food waste”. A new national “anti-food waste” label is planned for 2021 with food distribution and catering sectors aiming to reduce food waste by 50% compared to 2015.

Business

According to media reports the EU and China are close to reaching a long-awaited business investment deal. The pact, expected to be finalised this week, will give EU firms better access to the Chinese market and improve competition conditions. Talks on the investment deal began in 2014 but have been stuck for years over a number of issues. The deal comes hot on the heels of the UK's post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU which was announced on 24 December.

US President-elect Joe Biden has said that agencies critical to US security have suffered "enormous damage" at the hands of the Trump administration. Mr Biden said his team was not getting the information it needed, including from the Department of Defense, as it makes its transition to power.

He spoke after a briefing by national security and foreign policy aides. Mr Biden takes office on 20 January but President Donald Trump has refused to accept defeat in November's election. For weeks after the 3 November election, Mr Biden was blocked from receiving key intelligence briefings, an essential and normally routine part of a presidential transition.

And - UK government Minister Michael Gove has said that travellers heading for European Union countries should check their mobile phone provider's roaming charges. The UK's trade deal with the EU does not rule out additional costs when heading abroad in future. Since 2017, UK consumers have, within reason, been able to use the minutes, texts and data included on their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU. The same is true for consumers from other EU countries visiting the UK.

Sport

Football - In last night’s Premier League matches Crystal Palace drew 1-1 against Leicester City, as did Chelsea and Aston Villa and the match between Everton and Manchester City was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid cases.

In tonight’s Premier League games Brighton play Arsenal, Burnley face Sheffield United, Southampton are at home to West Ham, West Brom play Leeds and Manchester United face Wolves.

Cricket - Australia face an uphill task to avoid defeat by India in the second Test after collapsing on the third day in Melbourne.

Rugby Union - Newcastle and Bath have each been given four points after their Premiership games on 26 December were cancelled due to opposition coronavirus cases.

Tennis – Six-time champion Roger Federer will miss the Australian Open for the first time in his career as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. The 39-year-old Swiss, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, has not played since January because of two operations.

Weather

Mainly fine along the coast for the Alpes Maritimes and the Var with a moderate breeze high of 12 degrees in Nice and Antibes, 13 degrees in Cannes and 10 degrees in Vence with sunny intervals. This evening going down to 3 degrees with clear skies.  

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday temperatures remaining the same with stronger winds forecast for the Var and sunny intervals. Rain is forecast for New Year’s Day.

 

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