French and Riviera News Tuesday 4th May 2021

News 

Incidence rate in the Alpes Maritimes at its lowest since October 2020 - The Covid incidence rate in the Alpes Maritimes has reached its lowest since October of last year. The latest figures show that, to date it stands at 125.5 (for the week of April 24th to April 30th). The figure shows that the virus has dropped in terms of circulation however there has also been a drop in the screening rate which is also to be taken into account. The regional incidence rate does however remain below France’s national average which stands at 245 per every 100,000 people.

Report suggest that France “can do better” in its vaccination campaign - Meanwhile a report carried out by a citizen collective on the vaccination campaign has concluded that France “can do better”. The report made public on Monday May 3rd criticizes the lack of clarity from authorities and constant change of directives and also calls for competent advisers to be made available on the 0800 number set up to answer questions about the vaccination. In order to restore confidence in the vaccine the collective invites the Head of State to think of new forms of communication, for example by means of a program in which specialists would answer questions from the public as well as brochures in waiting rooms and television advertising spots.  

Can I travel to Italy? - On Monday France lifted the travel ban during the day however travelling abroad remains strictly limited. For example anyone wishing to travel to Italy between now and May 15th must present a negative PCR or antigen Covid test carried out less than 48 hours beforehand, report to the regional health authority on arrival and carry out a five day isolation period (even if your test is negative) as well as repeat a test at the end of the isolation period. Note that these rules do not apply to “trips by residents of border areas within a radius of 30km from your home for a period of less than 24 hours (such as border workers) or for business trips which are considered to be “essential”.

You may be exempt from testing and isolation while traveling to Italy if:

- Your stay does not exceed 120 hours, or 5 days, and that you are traveling for proven work, health or absolute emergency needs.

- You transit, by private means, on Italian territory for a period not exceeding 36 hours;

- You are a frontier worker.

In other words, you cannot cross the border in Menton just to go shopping in Ventimiglia.

Health measures in Monaco - Meanwhile, health measures recently in force in Monaco have been extended until Sunday, May 16th, but some relaxations have been made. As from Monday May 3rd bars in Monaco which serve breakfast may open under certain conditions. Access is reserved for Monaco residents, employees and hotel guests. Sports practice is also authorized in accordance with a strict health protocol. The curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. will remain in effect in Monaco for two additional weeks. The compulsory use of teleworking in the private and public sectors remains in force. The Monaco government said that overall, the circulation of the virus is declining, but the slowdown is much slower than last autumn. In one month, the incidence rate has been divided by three, but the number has slightly risen again recently and continuing vigilance is necessary.

Air travel - As France gradually lifts the national lockdown due to Covid, Nice International airport has announced upcoming plans to offer four new links on domestic flights to Brest, Nantes, Lille and La Rochelle as well as four European capital cities including London and Prague. In addition, there will be two new destinations departing from Nice to Menorca and Southampton. In total, 18 destinations will be available to France, which is expected to attract more domestic tourists than usual due to the health crisis. There will be 66 destinations within Europe and 12 outside the continental borders, to seven countries.

French economy - The Insee Statistics agency has said that the French economy returned to growth in the first quarter of 2021, due to enthusiastic consumer spending, despite crippling Covid-19 restrictions. French Gross Domestic Product edged up 0.4 percent compared to the final three months of 2020, a year that saw the coronavirus pandemic plunge countries worldwide into historic recessions. The agency added however that the economic rebound was limited, as GDP is still 4.4 percent below its level of the fourth quarter 2019, before the pandemic began.

European Commission travel proposal - The European Union has recommended allowing in visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid, as well as those coming from countries with a stable health situation, with no additional restrictions. The EU currently allows citizens of seven countries to come on holiday or for other non-essential reasons and the European Commission’s proposal would expand that list. EU member states are due to start discussing the proposal today Tuesday 4th May, with an agreement needed in order to put it into effect.

In other news

Conflict between London and Paris over fishing - Paris has rejected London's fishing requirements for the Channel Islands with France saying that, in the context of Brexit, any modification must be submitted to the European Commission. On Monday afternoon, the French government reacted strongly to the "new requirements" for fishing authorisations in the Channel Islands claiming they are "null and void".

Train link between Nice and Tende reopens - Seven months after storm Alex hit the Roya valley in the Alpes Maritimes, the Nice-Tende train link has returned. The service between Nice and Tende, in the Alpes Maritimes, resumed on Monday 3rd May. Good news for the inhabitants of the Roya valley, who had been deprived of the link since the storm. The line had restarted on October 19th, two weeks after the exceptional floods, between Breil-sur-Roya and Saint-Dalmas-de-Tende. But it was suspended the following month due to damage caused and has already required 7 million euros of work. The line will be free of charge until September to the inhabitants and volunteers coming to lend a hand to the victims.

Simple Minds concert cancelled - The Simple Minds concert on July 23rd at the Salle des Étoiles in Monaco has been cancelled. The Societe des Bains de Mer said that due to the current uncertainty regarding the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Simple Minds' European tour dates currently scheduled for June, July and August 2021 will, where possible, be moved to 2022. However, their concert on July 23rd this year at the Salle des Etoiles is cancelled because it cannot be postponed. Ticket holders are encouraged to contact the SBM ticket office or their resellers to process their refund.

Business

Bill and Melinda Gates are to divorce after 27 years. In a statement on Monday, the couple said that they no longer believed that they can grow together. They first met in the 1980s when Melinda joined Microsoft. The billionaire couple have three children and jointly run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organisation has spent billions of dollars fighting causes such as infectious diseases and encouraging vaccinations in children. Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world according to Forbes and is worth some $124 billion. Mr Gates made his money through Microsoft which he co-founded in the 1970s and is the world’s biggest software company. The couple have asked for space and privacy during the divorce proceedings.

Yahoo has been sold again after its latest owner failed to revive its fortunes. The US telecoms giant Verizon is selling its media assets which include both Yahoo and AOL to a US private equity fund in a deal worth $5 billion. Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017 and AOL in 2015 for a combined $9 billion. The firms, which were once Internet trailblazers have subsequently been overshadowed by firms such as Google and Facebook. The new owner Apollo Capital Management says that there is still a considerable opportunity to build the two brands into a digital media and online advertising powerhouse.

The cryptocurrency Ethereum and has extended its gains to a fresh record above $3400. In Asian trade this morning, Ethereum hit a high of $3457.64 for a session rise of around 17%. Traders are attributing the gains which amount to some 365% for the year to date to a catch up on bitcoin’s late 2020 jump and as the ethereum block chain make it more useful. The ether/bitcoin cross-rate is at its highest level in more than two and a half  years this morning while bitcoin was steady at $57,295.

Sport

Football – The English Premier League is to bring in a new owners charter to prevent future attempts for clubs to join a breakaway super league. All owners will have to sign up to the new role which commits them to core principles of the league with breaches punished by significant sanctions. The English Football Association says an enquiry into the six clubs involved is underway.

There were two games in the English Premier League last night. West Brom look doomed to relegation after they could only manage a 1–1 draw at home with Wolves while West Ham kept their chance of a top four finish alive with a 2–1 win at Burnley.

Manchester City will be bidding to reach the Champions League final tonight when they play Paris Saint Germain  in the second leg of the semi-final. City lead 2-1 from the first leg. Kickoff is at 9 pm.

There’s one game in the English Championship tonight. Luton play Rotherham who are bidding to avoid relegation and must win tonight.

Rugby Union – Ben Youngs has withdrawn from contention for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa because of family reasons. The England scrum-half received an email from the Lions management last week indicating that he was under consideration for selection. However, the 31-year-old has made the decision to stay at home with his family this summer. He explained that he has two young children and that his wife is heavily pregnant with the third and that’s the reason he’s decided not to make himself available.

Racing - Reports say that the British Horseracing Authority is set to launch a pilot scheme of pre-racing saliva tests for cocaine on riders over the next few days. The scheme is a step towards finding out whether the weighing room has a problem with cocaine with recent evidence suggesting that many jockeys are using the drug. The new procedure has several advantages over urine, blood and hair tests that have been used in the past. The result arrives in a matter of minutes so that any jockey who tests positive can be stood down for the day before they pose a threat to the safety of others. The test is also cheaper and more straightforward to conduct. A saliva test could soon become part of a jockey’s daily routine if the regulator considers it to be necessary.

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 18-21 degrees. Overnight lows of 11-13 degrees with cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Clear skies with highs of 20-23 degrees.

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