French and Riviera News Tuesday 9th February 2021

News

Regional Health Agency - The Regional Health Agency has announced 22 new deaths from Covid-19 in hospitals in the Alpes Maritimes region. Since the start of the pandemic Covid has claimed 1,241 victims in the department, 892 in hospitals, and 349 in nursing homes.

On Monday in the Alpes Maritimes the number of people being hospitalized was on the rise with 16 new admisssions and 8 new admissions to intensive care. In addition, 195 active clusters were reported, fifteen more than last week.

On a national level on Monday, 4,317 new positive cases for Covid-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the latest figures from Public Health France. Data released at the start of the week is generally much lower due to the few tests performed on Sundays. 458 new deaths from Covid were recorded in 24 hours.

College closes due to South African Variant - A college in the Val d-Oise has closed due to cases of the South African Variant being identified. The Jules Ferry college in Eaubonne will remain closed until March 1st and a screening campaign has been organised in the city. The Regional Health Agency has so far not succeeded in tracing the chain of contamination to identify where the contamination by this variant came from.

Meanwhile National Education doctors have requested the closure of schools in three regions of France for 4 weeks. The union wants to "slow down the circulation of the virus in schools in an attempt to avoid a closure which may be much longer" thereafter. In a press release sent to the government on Monday the union called for "the closure of all schools from February 8th for the duration of the February holidays in the 3 areas".

At present according to the latest figures from the Ministry of National Education, 934 classes are closed and 105 school establishments, for 12,520 cases of Covid-19. 1,808 school staff have also tested positive. According to the union, the compulsory wearing of the category 1 mask in schools is "inapplicable" and will therefore not be effective against the circulation of Covid-19 and new variants.

French expats seize the Council of State - Several French expatriates affected by the current border ban due to Covid which prevents them from returning to France unless they have a “compelling reason” have decided to seize the Council of State.  #JeVeuxRentrerChezMoi has been created following complaints from French people living outside the EU and a petition has been posted to demand "the withdrawal of the discriminatory decision prohibiting the entry and exit of French people from their own country". The petition quotes in particular article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "No one may be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country".

Damien Regnard the senator of Les Républicains des Français established outside France challenges French President Emmanuel Macron by saying in a video posted on Twitter that "This situation is discriminatory, intolerable, unjust and does not respect the very foundations of the Declaration of Human Rights”.

Prefecture takes action against mayor of Perpignan who wishes to reopen museums today - The prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales plans to lodge an appeal with the administrative court against the decision of the mayor of Perpignan, Louis Aliot, who has announced plans to open four museums today Tuesday 9th February. Louis Aliot announced on Monday the reopening of four municipal museums from Tuesday, without waiting for a possible government announcement. Under government guidelines due to Covid museums in France have been closed since the end of October.

Helpline - The Prefect of the Var has drawn the attention of teleworkers to a telephone number to call if they feel isolated or have difficulty teleworking. It's a national toll-free number available throughout France. The number, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and is anonymous, is 0800 13 00 00.

Nice 100% culture in schools - Nice city council has presented its plan for “Nice 100% culture in schools”. The project aims to offer a minimum of 12 hours of artistic and cultural education per year to each student from nursery to primary education, in both the public and the private sector. The project will also be a new outlet and opportunity for artists and cultural professionals suffering from the current health crisis. The project, costing 1.6 million euros, was presented on Monday at the town hall in Nice. The plan is supported by the City, the Nice Academy, as well as by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs for the PACA region.  

Vistamar restaurant Hotel Hermitage - The Michelin starred chef Yannick Alléno is set to take control of the Vistamar restaurant at the Hôtel Hermitage here in the Principality. The French chef who operates the restaurants Pavillon Ledoyen and L’Abysse in Paris and Le 1947 in Courchevel has been awarded six Michelin stars in his career. The SBM announced the arrival of Alléno on Monday adding that the star chef will “take the reins of the Vistamar restaurant as soon as possible, hopefully in April if all goes well”.

Cold spell - A particularly cold wave of weather is expected today and tomorrow in the north of France with temperatures expected to fall to minus 16 with snow forecast. Météo France has placed several departments in the north on an orange alert until at least Wednesday morning due to the particularly cold spell which is expected to last the best part of this week with snowfall expected from this morning.

I Love You, Moi Non Plus - A number of celebrities including Brian Eno, Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier, and the British contemporary artist Bob and Robert Smith have agreed to contribute their interpretations of what the British-French relationship means to them in a new project exploring the new relationship between the UK and France after Brexit. I Love You, Moi Non Plus aims to highlight how the arts across all disciplines from painting, illustration, photography, music and writing can break down the borders.

Business

Bitcoin has hit record highs after the electric carmaker Tesla revealed that it had invested heavily in the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin has hit 47,000 dollars in Asian trade this morning and has now risen by 61 percent since the start of the year. On Monday, Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed in its annual report that it had bought some 1.5 billion dollars worth of the cryptocurrency in January and expected to start allowing it for payments in the future. Tesla said that it was trying to maximise returns on cash that is not being used in the day-to-day running of the firm and that it would continue to invest in “reserve assets” such as cryptocurrencies, gold bullion or gold exchange-traded funds. Some analysts say that Tesla’s investment could be a “game changer” for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and that other large firms could follow suit in investing in the digital currency market. However, others have warned that the cryptocurrency market is still very volatile and while some investors would not be too concerned, others might be wary.

The social media firm Reddit says that it's raised more than 250 million dollars in a new round of funding which takes its valuation to 6 billion dollars. Reddit, which has been at the heart of a recent social media-driven trading frenzy was valued at 3 billion dollars following a funding round in February 2019. The firm said that it was the right time to make strategic investments in video, advertising, consumer products and international markets. The firm said that with valuations so high, it was a good time to raise money while there was an opportunity to do so. Reddit has more than 50 million active daily users with advertising revenue rising by 90 percent in the last quarter compared with a year earlier.

The music streaming service Napster is to make its debut on the London Stock Market later this year. The firm will start trading on the Alternative Investment Market from the 26th February as a result of its 70 million dollar reverse takeover by a British music tech startup last summer. MelodyVR which films and streams concerts that fans watch with virtual reality headsets said that it will raise 10 million pounds to fund the expansion of its streaming business and plans to rebrand Napster after its AGM later this month. Napster is to relaunch its app later this year and its music streaming service will go through further development.

Sport

Cricket - England are pressing for victory on day 5 of the first Test against India in Chennai. The tourists set the home side an unlikely 420 to win the match and had reduced them to 103-4 midway through the morning session still 322 runs short of the target.

Pakistan have beaten South Africa by 95 runs in the second Test in Rawalpindi to take the series 2-0. South Africa were bowled out for 274 in their second innings on day 5 after being unraveled by the second new ball.

Football - There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Leeds continued their recent good run with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

There are two FA Cup 5th round ties tonight as the game’s authorities attempt to play as many matches as possible to avoid too much congestion. Burnley play Bournemouth and Manchester United host West Ham.

Tennis - Attendance at the start of the Australian Open has been sparse with fans wary of turning up because of fears over coronavirus. On Monday there were 17,922 paying fans through the gates compared with 64,387 on the opening day last year. There have been first round wins for Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios but the 10th seed Gael Monfils has been knocked out.

In the women’s event Heather Watson of Great Britain is through to round two after beating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 7-6 while there were wins for Garbine Muguruza, Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka.

Formula 1 - Lewis Hamilton has ended speculation about his future after signing a new one-year contact at Mercedes. The 7-time world champion will now race for Mercedes for a 9th season and said that he and the team had achieved “great things together”.

Rugby Union - The former Bath and England back row Dave Egerton has died at the age of 59. Egerton won 7 England caps and played 163 times for Bath. He also played for the British and Irish Lions against France in 1989. His ten years at Bath coincided with a period of sustained success under coach Jack Rowell during which the team won 5 league titles and 5 domestic cups.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 10 degrees with outbreaks of rain across the region.

Wednesday and Thursday - Rain clearing away tomorrow morning, fine after that. Highs of 13-15 degrees.

And Finally 

With the headline “Discow dancing” – A group of dairy cows have been treated to a live concert. The 120 livestock were serenaded by Ben Waters as farm bosses say music helps cows to relax and produce better milk. Ben, who has performed with the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, set up his keyboard and speakers in the cowshed. According to reports his setlist included Cattle Be The Day, Herd It Through The Bovine and Great Bulls of Fire.

Ben said: “I think the cows reacted well. They seemed really happy.” The organic milk from the cows at Hollis Mead Farm, in, Dorset, is sold in vending machines across the South West. Farmhand Rex Fisher, 23, said: “The cows really enjoyed it. “They were having a party. “Hopefully customers will find their milk tastes that little bit sweeter now.”

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