French and Riviera News Wednesday 16th December 2020


School optional on Thursday and Friday - The unexpected announcement that school in France will be “optional for students on Thursday and Friday” has led to criticism from both parents and teachers. On Thursday Prime Minister Jean Castex made the announcement following the advice from the Scientific Council, as part of a move to limit the risk of contamination of Covid-19 before Christmas.

Parent teacher associations criticized a decision which is “not for parents to decide but should be a decision made by the public authorities” while teaching unions said that "It is not because these are the two days before the holidays that they are not two important days for learning."

Later in the day the Minister of National Education added that "there was no obligation for students not to attend class but that it would be tolerated as a precaution in the fight against the spread of Covid-19”.

However, the announcement is seen as counterproductive, as while education authorities have claimed schools are not a place of contamination and that all precautions are taken, the announcement suggests otherwise.

According to the latest report dated December 11th, 17 schools, out of more than 61,000, are still closed, that’s 125 classes out of nearly 530,000.

Border checks - Border checks are being carried out in Menton as Italy introduces stricter measures in the fight against Covid-19. Many wishing to shop across the border or spend the day in Italy were turned away by authorities on Tuesday as you are now required to have a "professional reason" in order to circulate from France into Italy.

Tuesday reportedly saw long tail backs in Menton as many were turned away by the Italian authorities however, some locals reported that this was not the case on the A8 motorway border at Ventimiglia which appeared to have no controls in place.

Air traffic disrupted due to technical fault - Air traffic has been disrupted at Nice International Airport. Due to a technical failure on Tuesday evening shortly after 8pm the runway was plunged into darkness, with an incoming plane from Lyon unable to land and diverted to Marseille.

Three other flights were delayed due to the incident with the power being restored at 10pm. It is thought that the incident was caused due to work currently being carried out on the South runway.

Covid-19 cluster - A cluster of Covid-19 has been declared in a nursing home in Grasse. Management has taken the necessary precautions after 25 people tested positive with more than half testing asymptomatic.

Covid-19 figures – Meanwhile Public Health France has reported 11,532 positive cases of Covid-19 and 314 deaths in the last 24 hours. 2,881 patients are in the intensive care and in total, 25,240 patients are currently hospitalized in France with Covid.

Mayor of Marseille resigns - Michèle Rubirola the mayor of Marseille has announced her resignation, believing that her first deputy, Benoît Payan, was best placed to step up to the emergency situation facing the city.

The first woman mayor of Marseille, Michèle Rubirola, announced on Tuesday, December 15, that she had submitted her resignation due to personal health challenges.

Elected in July at the head of a left-wing coalition Rubirola denounced the “calamitous” record left by the former right-wing municipality, with “bloodless finances”.

“Since 1945, Marseille has never been so ready to sink,” said Michèle Rubirola, a doctor by profession, adding that the city now needed an “emergency doctor".

Vaccination - Due to expectations that EU countries will be able to roll out their vaccination campaigns before Christmas. The European Medicines Agency has brought forward a meeting to decide on authorisation for the Covid-19 vaccine by more than a week to 21st December.

The announcement of a change to the previous date of December 29th came after mounting pressure on the regulator from European countries desperate for a vaccine.

Protests - Actors and cultural organisations in France have protested against the French government's decision to leave venues such as theatres, cinemas and museums closed for another three weeks, at least until 7th January.

Across France demonstrators gathered at noon on Tuesday. In Paris, cultural professionals gathered at Place de la Bastille, brandishing banners saying we’re going to die and not even on stage”.

French minister questioned - French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has been questioned by judges over rape allegations

The right-winger's lawyers said that the minister had spoken to two investigating magistrates "at his own request" over accusations of rape, sexual harassment and abuse of trust.

The Interior Minister has been the focus of protests against President Emmanuel Macron's centrist government in recent weeks, as the government introduced a “security law”.

Frogs must go! - The French courts have ruled that the frogs of a Dordogne village must go. The frogs have been served notice after a judge decided they make so much noise during the mating season that they are a nuisance to the neighbours.

After nine years of legal battles, Michel and Annie Pécheras have been told they have 90 days to drain the pond at their home in the village of Grignols to get rid of the amphibians.

Environmental campaigners say some of the frogs are protected species.


US Congressional leaders have reported progress on a coronavirus relief package and a funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

Two meetings of top Republicans and Democrats have been held over the past few hours with the Republican Senate majority leader telling reporters that he was “optimistic” that an understanding will be complete sometime soon.

Pressure has been building on Congress to deliver more help for America which has been suffering with resurgent numbers of coronavirus infections.

The Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that progress had been made and that he hoped a deal will be made soon.

In April ,Congress approved a 3 trillion dollar coronavirus aid package but there’s been disagreement since whether more is needed.

More than 300,000 Americans have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic and millions have been left unemployed.


A new system aimed at reducing quarantine times for travellers arriving in England has been beset by problems on its first day.

Test and Release allows travellers to end self-isolation early if they pay for a coronavirus test and get a negative result five days after their arrival.

The government chose 11 firms to carry out the private tests but many have encountered problems and some of the biggest Covid test providers were not included.

Airports UK said on Tuesday that there had been “teething problems” but that these would be resolved.

Some test providers are reported to have been overwhelmed with the volume of demand and one supplier pulled out of the scheme completely.

Critics say that the system is unworkable and many travellers arriving in the UK are unwilling to pay for tests.


And-The ex-wife of the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated more than 4 billion dollars to food banks and emergency relief funds over the past four months.

MacKenzie Scott says that she wants to help Americans who are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Scott is the world’s 18th richest person and has seen her wealth climb to 60.7 billion dollars this year.She said that the pandemic had been a “wrecking ball” in the lives of Americans who were already struggling.

Much of her fortune comes from Jeff Bezos who is the world’s richest man and the chief executive of Amazon.


Football-There were 2 games in the English Premier League on Tuesday night.

Chelsea missed out on the chance of going top after losing 2-1 at Wolves and Manchester City shared a disappointing 1-1 draw with West Brom.

There are 6 more games tonight. Arsenal play Southampton.Leeds host Newcastle.Leicester play Everton.Fulham play Brighton.Liverpool host Spurs and West Ham play Crystal Palace.

In the English Championship last night QPR and Stoke drew 0-0.Barnsley beat Preston 2-1.Bournemouth beat Wycombe 1-0.Millwall were 2-0 winners at Bristol City.Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 and Watford and Brentford drew 1-1.

In the quarter finals of the Scottish League Cup St Johnstone beat Dunfermline 4-3 on penalties after extra time and Hibs beat Alloa Athletic 2-1.

Formula 1-Sir Frank Williams is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital this morning in what his family say is a “private matter”.

Sir Frank ,who’s 78 built the Williams team into one of the most successful in the history of the sport but its fortunes have declines in recent years and it was sold to US investors earlier this year.

Sir Frank spent some time in hospital in 2016 with pneumonia.

The family said that no further statement on his condition will be issued for the time being.

Rugby Union-Danny Cipriani has left Gloucester with immediate effect after the club signed the Scotland international Adam Hastings.

The 33 year old said that he’d decided to leave but was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Cipriani signed for Gloucester from Wasps in 2018 but hasn’t played this season despite signing a new contract in 2019.

His departure is part of an overhaul at the club which started during the coronavirus lockdown.


Partially cloudy with light to moderate easterly winds.

Top temperature 14 degrees.

Overnight lows of 10 degrees on the coast and 8 degrees inland with clear skies.

Thursday and Friday-Partially cloudy with highs of 14-15 degrees.

And Finally 

Singletons from around the world have revealed their amusing reasons they turned down a second date. From head patting to littering, dozens of women have revealed the reasons they decided not to go on a second date with someone. 

Bad body ordour, and terrible table manners is a big turn off for many. One woman told how she couldn't face seeing her date again after he turned up wearing his mobile phone in a belt pouch, while another was repulsed when her date hadn't trimmed his fingernails. And someone else didn't return for a second date after being bombarded with 45 texts in just 24 hours. 











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