French and Riviera News Tuesday 5th January 2021

News

Bars and restaurants to remain closed - It has been decided that bars and restaurant in France will not reopen on January 20th. It’s not yet official but the decision has reportedly been taken following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and the government on Monday. This afternoon, unions are to meet with the Head of State requesting a new date and a clear plan for the future of bars and restaurants in France.

Beaches of Saint Laurent du Var - After several rainy days in the Alpes-Maritimes tons of wood from the valleys has washed up on the beaches of Saint Laurent du Var. However local officials are not so concerned about the wood but by other waste such as plastic bottles, cans and household waste. A clean up campaign will be carried out once the local police have checked the area for any dangerous waste such as bottles of gas.

Weather - Meteo France has issued yellow warnings for icy conditions and avalanches in the Alpes Maritimes until 4pm today. There's a yellow warning for icy conditions in the Var until midday today.

Motorway authorities ask motorists to take care - VINCI Autoroutes are reminding motorists using some of the motorways in south-east France to take extra care because of snow. Snow has already been falling in parts of the Var on Monday.

Case of Covid variant in Corsica - A case of the British variant of Covid-19 has been identified in Corsica. The person affected had returned from London and is currently self-isolating at home. Corsica tests all passengers without a negative Covid test when they land in Ajaccio which made it possible for the regional health authorities to identify the case. In place from December 19th to January 8th, out of the 58,000 checks carried out so far, 750 were not able to provide a negative test and were therefore tested on arrival. 39 passengers did attempt to avoid being tested and were fined.

A first case of the variant was identified in France on December 25th, in Tours, when a Frenchman returned from London a few days earlier.

Vaccination campaign in France - French health authorities have stepped up the coronavirus vaccination campaign after critics on Monday attacked Emmanuel Macron's government for lagging embarrassingly behind its European neighbours. Macron was reported to be furious over the number of people in France who had received their jab compared with statistics from Germany and Britain. The Head of State called a meeting with top advisors as well as health minister Olivier Véran and the prime minister, Jean Castex, on Monday to thrash out a new presentation of the vaccination project.

The meeting resulted in health workers aged 50 and over receiving their jabs from Monday despite the initial plan to start vaccinating them from February. More than 65,000 people have died from Covid-19 in France since January 2020. On Monday 12,000 new cases were registered.

The Prime Minister promised in early December that 1 million people would be vaccinated by the end of January. The website CovidTracker, which collates French official public health data, estimates that to achieve the target, nearly 35,000 people would have to be vaccinated daily in France.

Nice Hospital - The CHU Hospital in Nice has launched a vaccination campaign for professionals working at the hospital. All hospital professionals over the age of 50 are eligible for the vaccination as well as personnel under 50 at serious risk. The vaccination campaign potentially concerns 2,500 hospital professionals within the hospital. The hospital is also continuing to vaccinate elderly care unit residents and long-care unit patients.

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has said that rural areas of Metropole Nice Cote d'Azur will benefit from the deployment of the vaccination plan "very soon".  The mayor added that 20,000 people have already registered on the Nice Covid-19 vaccine registration website. The address is https://vaccincovid19.nice.fr/VC19/.

Xavier Bertrand pushes for vaccination centers to be opened - Meanwhile the president of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand, deplores "an extremely serious error by the French government" and proposes in his region "to open vaccination centers in high schools or public spaces well before the official date of February" or to move from written consent to oral consent. On Monday morning, 516 people had been vaccinated in France, compared to over 265,000 in Germany and nearly 119,000 in Italy.

“Voisins Voices” newsletter - The British Embassy in Paris has published online a bumper edition of the “Voisins Voices” newsletter with information about the newly negotiated End of transition and what it means for you. For the link to the newsletter, click here

Business

The New York Stock Exchange has scrapped plans to delist three Chinese telecoms firms following what it says is “further consultation” with regulatory authorities. In November, President Trump signed an executive order barring US investments in Chinese firms owned or controlled by the military. On New Year’s Eve, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it would be delisting China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom as a result of the President’s orders. Analysts say that they suspect that the Exchange had never wanted to delist the firms in the first place and that the interpretation of Mr Trump’s executive order appears to have changed. Shares in all three firms have surged on the Hong Kong Stock Market where they’re also listed. The three companies earn all of their revenue in China and have no significant presence in the United States.

Some EU online retailers have announced that they will no longer deliver to the UK because of post-Brexit tax changes that came into force on the 1st of January. Firms are reported to be angry because they now face higher costs and increased bureaucracy in order to comply with fresh UK tax regulations. Meanwhile, some international shipping firms including Federal Express and TNT have announced that they’ll be implementing additional charges on shipments between the UK and the EU. The move reflects the increased costs that shipping firms are having to absorb while adjusting their systems to cope with fresh regulations. Under changes to VAT rules brought in by HM Revenue and Customs on the first of January, tax must now be collected at the point of sale rather than at the point of importation.

Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot say that investors have now given the green light to a 52 billion dollar merger that will create the world’s 4th largest carmaker and that shares in the new firm which will be called Stellantis will start trading in two weeks time. The newly formed firm is expected to play a large part in the auto industry’s move into a new era of electrification. Stellantis will produce around 8 million vehicles annually with expected revenues of some 203 billion dollars. The new firm will have 14 brands ranging from the US focused Jeep, Dodge and Ram to traditionally European names including Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen and Op