French and Riviera News Tuesday 2nd February 2021

News

Ski lifts to remain closed in February - Ski lifts are to remain closed in February due to the current health situation. The government made the announcement on Monday following a meeting with the Prime Minister and representatives of the industry. No possible date to reopen was given, however financial aid will be provided for the industry which has had to close due to Covid.

Defense Council Meeting - A defense council meeting is due to be held on Wednesday 3rd February. The last defense council took place on Friday 29th January and was followed by France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announcing that the government wished to try and “avoid a third lockdown” by “closing borders, the closure of certain shopping centers, with the 6pm curfew maintained and controls stepped up”. The measures however were considered to “not be enough” by a majority of members of the scientific council, which still “pleads for further measures in the fight against the threat of new variants”. On Sunday the government spokesperson Gabriel Attal refused to give a possible date for a return to lockdown, if any. The scientific council has however suggested possible regional lockdowns as figures of Covid differ greatly from region to region declaring that, such a measure “would allow those areas the worst hit to contain the spread and spare those with fewer cases”. However, the timing for the government poses yet another problem with the school holidays and families wishing to travel within France.

Passengers turned away at airport - In line with new measures introduced on Monday by the French government, border police at France’s largest international airports were turning away passengers bound for destinations beyond the European Union. Under the new health restrictions travellers wishing to leave the European Union from France are now obliged to show written proof of an urgent need to do so. At one terminal at Paris's main airport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, about 20 passengers out of 300 were refused boarding on flights to destinations outside the EU. 

Civil disobedience - There was little if any, participation on Monday in the “civil disobedience” action called for by some restaurant owners following the Minister of Finance’s warning that those who took part would be sanctioned. Restaurant owners in France have been unable to serve sit-down meals since 30th October. Despite government bailouts of up to €20,000 per month, some say they’re at breaking point, with little prospect of a return to business as usual anytime soon.

Covid figures - Meanwhile the number of patients hospitalized in France with Covid increased slightly on Monday. 27,874 people are currently hospitalized according to the latest figures from Public Health France. The number of patients admitted to intensive care has also increased slightly. It stands at 3,218 compared to 3,148 on Sunday and 3103 Saturday. 456 additional deaths were recorded in 24 hours in French hospitals on Monday. In total, 76,512 people, including 53,809 in French hospitals, have died from Covid-19.

Regional figures - In the Alpes Maritimes, currently the most affected area of France, the latest data published shows that for the week January 22nd to the 28th the incidence rate was at 448.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, that’s an average of almost 700 new daily cases during this period. An incidence rate which is more than double the national average of 211 per 100,000 inhabitants.

According to government figures on the Géodes platform which is updated daily, Nice and Saint Laurent du Var have an incidence rate still above 500 while other towns in the Alpes Maritimes such as Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Cannes, Grasse, Menton, Mougins, Vallauris and Villeneuve-Loubet have an incidence rate of between 250 and 500. Vence however, shows one of the lowest of between 150 and 250.

65-year-old resident dies from Covid in Monaco - Monaco has deplored the death of a 65-year-old resident on Monday. To date fourteen people have died from Covid in the Principality since the beginning of the pandemic. Ten additional cases of Covid were identified on Monday with the number of residents affected standing at 1,499. Sixty-three people are currently in hospital and ten people are in intensive care. 108 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

Flood in part of France - 18 departments in the north and northeast of France remain on an orange weather alert due to heavy rain and the risk of flooding. The red alert has been lifted in Corrèze, a region which saw 150 people evacuated on Monday evening with emergency services being mobilized and a crisis unit being set up at the prefecture.

Business

The price of silver has risen to an 8-year high as retail investors piled into the metal on Monday in a bid to sway values. The price of the metal did fall back somewhat in late trade amid rumours of intervention by large Wall Street firms and the ability of retail investors to seriously affect prices for a commodity of which there is plentiful supply. Social media sites and trading platforms were abuzz for much of Monday as the price of silver rose to 30 dollars an ounce, a level last seen in 2013. At the same time, shares in the video games retailer GameStop fell by 30.8 percent following last week’s skyrocketing values. It’s not clear how long the Reddit-fueled rally in stocks shorted by hedge funds will last but it appears that retail investors have seriously overestimated their ability to affect the price of silver with many at risk of sustaining big losses. Share prices swung wildly last week as small-time retail investors inflicted several powerful hedge funds with big losses. The effect on the wider market appeared to have abated on Monday with stocks closing higher.

US Federal Reserve officials appear to be split on President Biden’s plans for a 1.9 trillion dollar stimulus package as Democrats and Republicans debate the issue in Congress. Some Fed officials think that the programme is vital as America remains in the teeth of the coronavirus pandemic while others agree with Republicans that the price is too high and that the United States can’t afford it. There are some forecasts that America will grow at 5 percent this year as vaccines are rolled out and businesses reopen. The US has been devastated by the pandemic with more than 26 million Americans affected so far and over 411,000 deaths. Congress and the White House will ultimately decide how much stimulus will be rolled out but what is actually required remains the subject of heated debate.

Oil prices have risen by 1 percent this morning after major producers showed that they were cutting output in line with their commitments to restraint. Brent Crude rose by 51 cents a little earlier to 56 dollars 86 while West Texas Intermediate was up by 53 cents to 54 dollars 08. Opec production increased for a 7th month in January according to a Reuters survey but the growth was smaller than expected.

Sport

Football - Transfer deadline day has been quiet with only 3 English Premier League clubs completing cash deals and most others settling for loans. Trading was way down on previous seasons with overall fees falling to their lowest level since 2012. Analysis suggests that clubs spent a total of 68 million pounds yesterday compared with 188 million last year. The impact of the coronavirus on clubs’ finances is seen as the main reason why spending was so muted.

There are 4 games in the Premier League tonight. Sheffield United play West Brom in the basement battle at Bramall Lane while Wolves play Arsenal, Manchester United host Southampton and Newcastle play Crystal Palace.

There was one game in the English Championship last night. QPR were 2-1 winners at Watford.

Cricket - The England squad has left quarantine ahead of the first Test against India which starts on Friday. No positive coronavirus tests have been registered and the players are now able to train together ahead of the keenly anticipated 4 Test series. England have won their last 4 series and are unbeaten in 10 consecutive Tests. India come into the series having just beaten Australia in their own back yard.

Rugby Union - Some fans could return to watch 6 Nations games after Scottish Rugby said that the issue was “under review”. Scotland’s first two matches against England and Wales will be played behind closed doors but there is a possibility that some later games could allow a small number of fans to attend. However, it seems that most of the matches in this year’s tournament will have to be played without fans with strict coronavirus protocols still in force in England, Ireland and France.

Italy has started to lift some restrictions on every day life in some regions but it’s not clear if that will be extended to sporting occasions. The 6 Nations starts this weekend with Italy against France and England against Scotland on Saturday while Wales play Ireland on Sunday.

Weather

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

Wednesday and Thursday - Partially cloudy with highs of 14 degrees.

And finally

Danish researchers have found that women who spent more than 20 years working outdoors had a 17 per cent lower chance of a breast cancer diagnosis. The team hypothesizes that the effect may be due to higher levels of Vitamin D, which is made by the body when it is exposed to sunlight. The recent study did not however, specifically look at individual vitamin D levels and was unable to draw a definitive link between supplementation, diet, vitamin D levels and, ultimately, risk of breast cancer. 

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