French and Riviera News Wednesday 19th May 2021

News

Reopening in France as today marks second stage in progressive end to lockdown - Restaurant, bar and café terraces are to reopen in France today after seven months of closure due to the health crisis. As the curfew is pushed back to 9pm, the drop in the number of Covid patients in intensive care units continues. Public Health France announced on Tuesday May 18th, that there are currently 4,015 intensive care patients admitted to hospitals in France and the number of people being hospitalised also continues to decline with 22,058. Its lowest since the end of October 2020.

Ahead of today’s reopening of terraces France’s Minister of Finance went to meet Parisian restaurant owners on Tuesday May 18th. Bruno Le Maire said that this reopening had to be "a collective success".

Vaccination campaign in France - The opening of vaccination to all has been a success with non-priority people representing 10% of appointments made on Doctolib during the last week. Meanwhile Austria has announced that it is to abandon the AstraZeneca vaccine saying that it will “probably continue giving first doses until early June, then that will be it." Austria cited that the reason was due to persistent delivery delays and public reluctance. This declaration comes after similar decisions by Norway and Denmark, which had, for their part, justified their choice by the rare but serious risks of complications.

In other news

Murder investigation - Police in the Gard have opened an investigation after the discovery of a dead couple in a car. The 73-year-old man and 69-year-old woman were found on Tuesday May 18th in their vehicle, in an outbuilding of their farmhouse, after worried relatives alerted the police. A murder investigation has been opened with an autopsy taking place today Wednesday 19th May.

French minister to attend rally organised by police force - For the first time in France, a French government minister is to take part in a demonstration today in front of the National Assembly. France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin will be present at the rally, which has been organised by police unions, in a call for tougher sentences for attacks carried out on police. The rally was organized after the murder, on May 5th, of Eric Masson, a 36-year-old officer, killed in Avignon.

Head of State defends television channel - French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his wish for France 4, which was to close in August, to continue its activity. The Elysée intends to maintain the broadcasting on TNT of the public channel. Macron tweeted on Tuesday May 18th that the channel must “continue its mission around youth, education and culture” adding that “France 4 has taken a special place in many French homes, especially since the pandemic”. The government had initially planned to shut down France 4 in the summer of 2020 in favour of 100% digital programs and for the sake of savings for France Télévisions.

Alain Ducasse to leave Le Plaza Athénéé - The most starred French chef in the world, Alain Ducasse and the palace Le Plaza Athénée are to go their separate ways. Ducasse will be leaving the restaurant of the Parisian palace, which he has managed since 2000. However, the Dorchester group which owns the palace, will continue its collaboration with the French chef at Le Meurice, in Paris, and at the Dorchester, in London.

Mayor of Nice Twitter post fuels a reaction on social media - Users of social media have reacted to the mayor of Nice's pro-Israel stance. According to local media Christian Estrosi posted on his Twitter account a photo of the Israeli flag hanging from the town hall. The Israeli embassy was quick to express to the mayor of Nice its "gratitude" for "this mark of solidarity". Others criticised the move as an attack on the "neutrality of the Republic".

Nice ranks ahead of Paris and Toulon for the most forgetful customers of Uber - In a survey carried out by Uber and published on Tuesday, May 18th, Nice comes 6th in the ranking of the most forgetful customers, behind Nantes which takes first place, Toulouse second and Montpellier third but still ahead of Paris and Toulon. Unsurprisingly, phones, wallets and keys are at the top of the most forgotten items over the past year. And as far as the most unusual objects left behind these included; a whip, a jar of French pickles or even a spare wheel and a bedside table.

Uber free rides - Meanwhile to coincide with the reopening of terraces today Uber is launching free ride lucky dips available in seven French cities, including Nice. The option will appear in the app on Wednesdays when the restriction is lifted today May 19th, June 9th, June 30th and every Saturday evening until June 26th, between 6 p.m. and curfew time. The app will be giving away up to 1,000 rides every week.

Business

Amazon is reported to be in talks to buy MGM Studios for $9 billion. MGM is one of Hollywood’s most famous studios and has a history dating back almost a century. The sale would give Amazon access to a vast back catalogue of content. The reports come just a day after the telecoms giant AT&T agreed to combine its WarnerMedia unit with Discovery in a deal to create a new streaming giant. MGM Holdings, the parent company of MGM Studios has been exploring a sale since the end of last year. The purchase by Amazon of MGM Studios would mark a major step for its Prime streaming service.

The New York Attorney General has said that the probe into the Trump Organisation is now a criminal investigation. A spokesman for the state prosecutor said on Tuesday that the enquiry into the former president’s property company was no longer purely civil. The New York Attorney General’s office has been investigating Mr Trump’s financial dealings before he took office. Mr Trump says he has done nothing wrong and that the enquiry by the Democratic prosecutor is a political vendetta. A civil enquiry was launched in 2019 into claims that Mr Trump had inflated the value of his assets to banks when seeking loans and then understated them to lower his taxes. The Manhattan District Attorney has also been investigating whether any of Mr Trump’s financial records were doctored to cover up hush money payments to two women in 2016 who claim they had affairs with him.

The luxury lifestyle publisher Boat International says that wealthy people have so far spent more than £1 billion on superyachts this year as they seek to escape Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions. Boat International said the surge is set to make this year the biggest yet in terms of second hand sales. The publication said that the trend towards buying superyachts which started last summer is the hottest sales streak on record. A superyacht is defined as being longer than 24 meters and needing crew. The charity Oxfam said that it was “obscene” that such wealth was not spent on vaccines. It pointed out that for the cost of the superyachts, the entire population of Nepal could be fully vaccinated.

Sport 

Football – There were four games in the English Premier League last night. Chelsea beat Leicester 2–1 to go third in the table and create a bit of breathing space to chasing Liverpool. Manchester United were held 1–1 at home by relegated Fulham. Brighton beat the champions Manchester City 3&