French and Riviera News Wednesday 10th February 2021

News

One month’s worth of rain - Nice, Antibes and Cannes along with the rest of the Riviera experienced one month's worth of rain overnight. However, the weather is set to gradually improve during the course of this morning.

Meanwhile transport has been suspended today in several departments in the north of France due to snow. There will be no school transport in Brittany or Normandy which remain on an orange weather alert due to snow and ice and regional trains are also expected to be disrupted.

Renovation work announced by the regional director of the SNCF will affect traffic from 1st September - The region’s SNCF regional director has announced plans for major renovations on the line between Nice and Monaco. During Tuesday’s press conference Karim Touati announced that the work planned for September 1st will see major renovations carried out on the tunnels of Cimiez and Villefranche sur mer. The impact of the renovation work which is expected to last five months will see traffic reduced, with trains circulating on one line rather than two.

Class closes in Monaco - A second class at the Institution François d'Assise-Nicolas Barré here in Monaco has closed after six students tested positive for Covid-19. In accordance with the procedure recommended by the Monegasque health authorities the six students have self-isolated along with other pupils until February 19th. From today those students concerned will benefit from distance learning.

Monaco Covid cases - Meanwhile on Tuesday, Monaco identified 30 new cases of Covid bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,695. 72 people are currently hospitalized of which 37 are residents and 9 people are in intensive care including 6 residents. 153 people are to date, being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

Alpes Maritimes, Var and Bouches du Rhone Covid numbers - In the Alpes Maritimes the latest figures from the government’s website show that 741 people are currently hospitalized and to date 905 people have died from Covid in the region. For the Var, 571 people are to date in hospital in the region and since the start of the pandemic 782 people have died. And in the Bouches du Rhone 1,617 people are hospitalized and 2,342 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

More than 80,000 deaths from Covid in France - France has crossed the threshold of 80,000 deaths due to Covid-19. To date, according to figures from Public Health France, 80,147 people have died in both hospital and nursing homes in France since the start of the pandemic. 439 deaths were declared in the last 24 hours on Tuesday 9th February. The number of hospitalizations for Covid remains high, at more than 11,000 new admissions.  

Green light to extend “State of Health Emergency” – Meanwhile the French Parliament has given the green light for the extension of the state of health emergency until June 1st, 2021. On Tuesday, February 9th, the green light was given despite opposition from both the right and the left as many express the “weariness of the population and fed up restaurant owners, ski resorts and students with even possible threats of disobedience”.

The health emergency was in effect from March 23rd to July 10th, 2020, then reinstated on October 17th. The French Parliament extended it for the first time until February 16th, and now until June 1st. Created in March 2020 in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state of health emergency is the basis, in particular, of the national curfew at 6pm allowing for measures to restrict or prohibit movement, gatherings or the opening of establishments, as well as partial or complete lockdown of the population.

Saliva tests for Covid-19 - Saliva tests for Covid-19 are to be administered in French schools and universities after the February holidays. The national health authority, the Haute Autorité de Santé is expected to make an announcement in the coming days. France’s health minister Olivier Véran said that once the health body gives its approval for the deployment, "we can carry out several hundred thousand tests by saliva sampling". Véran emphasised that the saliva test is less unpleasant to undergo than the nasal swab, especially for children. 

Oldest person in Europe recovers from Covid - The oldest person in Europe has recovered from Covid-19. Sister Andre, who is a resident of a retirement home in Toulon will celebrate her 117th birthday tomorrow Thursday 11th February.

Chirping of budgies in French capital to end - The chirping of budgies on Sundays at Paris's Île de la Cité will soon be no more. The city has decided to shut down the iconic weekly bird market, a stone's throw from Notre-Dame Cathedral in the heart of the French capital, citing animal rights' concerns. The bird market has been a mainstay for generations of Parisians dating back to the 19th century and its closure is the latest effort by the city of Paris, and France to improve their animal rights record.

During the same Paris Hall assembly which confirmed the bird market closure, the city also called on the French government to ban the sale of kittens and puppies under the age of six months in pet shops from 2022.

Business

Asian stocks have hit record highs again today as upbeat earnings, hopes of a large US fiscal stimulus package and progress in vaccinations fanned optimism about a global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. China’s SCI 300 has risen by 1.3 percent to a 13-year high while the Shanghai Composite reached a 5-year high on the final trading day before the week-long Lunar New Year holidays. Corporate earnings have been beating expectations in both the United States and Japan in recent days, while global investors have been extending risk appetite as the Biden administration looks set to spend up to 1.9 trillion dollars on its stimulus programme. Meanwhile, higher bond yields are reflecting rising inflation expectations after the US Federal Reserve said that it would tolerate inflation rising above 2 percent temporarily. The dollar is trading at near two-week lows against a basket of currencies and Brent Crude is still trading at around 61 dollars, near 13 month highs.

The head of one of the UK’s biggest retailers has said that Brexit has turned out to be “considerably worse” than he feared. Peter Cowgill, the chairman of JD Sports says that the red tape and delays in shipping goods to Europe has meant “double-digit millions” in extra costs. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Cowgill said that the firm may have to open an EU-based distribution centre to ease the problems which would mean creating jobs in Europe and not in the UK. The criticism is the latest in a series of complaints about trading arrangements from exporters and importers across the UK. There has been growing concern about the viability of many businesses since the transition period ended from seafood exporters in Scotland to firms shipping food supplies to Northern Ireland. The British government says that it is providing businesses with “support”.

Twitter has beaten Wall Street estimates for quarterly sales and profit and has forecast a strong start to 2021. Total revenue came in at a record 1.29 billion dollars, up 28 percent year-on-year. The social media site says that it has 192 million average daily users, up 26 percent on a year earlier adding that user growth had been driven by product improvements and more global conversation. Advertising revenue came in at 1.15 billion dollars, up by 31 percent on a year earlier.

Sport

Football - There were two FA Cup 5th round ties in England last night. Burnley lost 2-0 at home to Bournemouth of the Championship while Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 in extra time to make it into the last 8. There are 4 more ties tonight. Swansea play Manchester City. Leicester play Brighton. Sheffield United face Bristol City and Everton host Spurs.

In the English Championship last night Rotherham lost 2-1 at home to Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday beat Wycombe 2-0.

Formula 1 - The sport’s bosses are to discuss the introduction of a shorter sprint race on the Saturday before the main event in a bid to increase entertainment levels. Teams and bosses will take a vote tomorrow on plans to introduce a shorter race on Saturday with qualifying on the Friday and the final placings in the Saturday race defining the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The sprint race would be around a third of the length of a normal Grand Prix and would replace qualifying while qualifying would replace second practice on the Friday at events.

Rugby Union - Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony has been handed a three-match ban after being sent off in the 6 Nations opener against Wales on Sunday. O’Mahony was sent off after 14 minutes for dangerous play and will now miss Ireland’s matches against France, Italy and Scotland.

Tennis - Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu have both been knocked out in the second round at the Australian Open but Serena Williams is through to round 3 as she bids for a record-equaling Grand Slam title. Kvitova was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Sorana Cirstea of Romania while Andreescu lost 6-3 6-3 to Hsieh SU-Wei of Taiwan. Williams beat Nina Stojanovic of Serbia 6-3 6-3.

In the men’s event Danill Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are all through to the second round.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate to strong south westerly winds. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 6 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Fine tomorrow with a high of 15. Rain on Friday with a high of 10 degrees.

And Finally 

NASA has launched a competition to design future dishes for astronauts. The goal being to create tasty and nutritious food production systems using viable, safe and autonomous technologies for astronauts. The “Deep Space Food Challenge” guarantees “international collaboration”, with participants from all over the world welcome, specifies the dedicated site. Registration here. Each group must register before May 28th, 2021 and send their project by July 30th at the latest.

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