French and Riviera News Wednesday 23rd September 2020

Local

Investigation following local elections in Marseille – Nine people have been taken into police custody as part of an investigation into the second round of local elections in Marseille last June.

Two Republican MPs and candidates during the local election in Marseille are suspected of having offered voters help in filling out proxies for the second round of elections so that they did not have to travel and at times using Covid-19 and the health risk as an excuse, a practice which is reportedly illegal and does not respect the electoral code.

As part of the investigation searches have this week been carried out at the homes of Géraldine Lapalus and Monique Devouge deputy mayor for the 11th and 12th arrondissement of Marseille.   

According to the prosecutor of Marseille the investigation is considering the act of "fraudulent maneuvers of proxy votes" as well as "forgery and use of forgery".

School closes following bad weather in the Var - Bad weather has led to a secondary school in Toulon being evacuated as a precaution. Tuesday saw the college Pins d'Alep in Toulon evacuate students for safety reasons.

Firefighters intervened after the ground floor flooded due to heavy rainfall. The college is expected to reopen tomorrow Thursday 24th September.

The bad weather led to the Var department being placed on a yellow weather warning on Tuesday with firefighters carrying out 74 interventions.

Beaches closed to swimmers due to weather - Meanwhile Several beaches in Antibes Juan-les-Pins have been temporarily closed to swimmers. The local council said that the bad weather had led to the overload of a number of sanitation networks. As a result, swimming is prohibited until Thursday, September 24, at 9:00am.

Place Masséna renovation resumes - Renovation work on the facades of Place Masséna in Nice have resumed. Delays occurred due to financing of the major project, which requires very specific paint. The project is expected to be completed by the end of spring next year.

Place Masséna dates back to 1820 and was modelled on the Piazza Vittorio Veneto in Turin.

Speed camera flashes the same motorists 50 times – A motorist in the Var has been flashed by the same speed camera 50 times accusing the camera of not working properly.

The camera situated on the RD560 between Seillons-Source-d'Argens and Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume has led to the motorist receiving more than fifty fines. With the speed limited to 70km many motorists have complained about the faulty functioning of the radar leading to fines being issued even when the speed is being respected.

The case reportedly “remains a mystery” with the mayor of the town showing his support to motorists and sharing their doubts about the correct functioning of the equipment.

National

Airbnb- European justice has validated a French law intended to regulate local authoritsation for short term property rentals.

The decision announced on Tuesday has been welcomed by the City of Paris council and described as a "victory" due to the housing shortage in the capital.

French law makes the rental of certain homes conditional on prior authorisation from the town hall, in towns with more than 200,000 inhabitants and in the inner suburbs of Paris.

The main residences cannot be rented more than 120 days a year and other accommodations must obtain an "authorization of change of use" from the town hall.

The case however does not end there, as it will now be up to the French justice system to verify that the City of Paris provides evidence of housing shortage.

Short-stay specialist Airbnb said it welcomed a decision that "will go to help in clarifying the rules".

Pointing out that it was not party to the case, Airbnb added that the ruling related to second homes and not people's primary residences, so would, it said, have little or no impact in Paris.

French opposition left unsatisfied following government meeting on Covid-19 - Following a meeting on the current situation of Covid-19 in France held by French Prime Minister Jean Castex, with all political party leaders and presidents of the parliamentary groups, the opposition said on Tuesday  that they have been left “unsatisfied” with “inconsistencies” and “few answers” to the current health crisis.

Speaking after the meeting Olivier Faure first secretary of the Socialist Party, said that “despite asking many questions to the Prime Minister and members of the government, MPs were given few answers” adding that it “appeared that the government was only discovering the problems as they were being evoked” during the meeting, which lasted more than two and a half hours. Republican MP Damien Abad pointed out the “inconsistencies of the government in particular “the slowness in the testing policy for Covid-19”.

The meeting was overshadowed by the latest figures for Covid-19 which saw the number of new cases exceed once again, the 10,000 mark on Tuesday, leading to the announcement that a Defence Council on Covid-19 is schedule for today or Thursday, with the French President Emmanuel Macron, promising that several decisions will be taken.

Former Interior Minister defends decision in front of the upper houses of parliament - Meanwhile France’s former Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner, has been questioned by the upper house of parliament committee following an inquiry into the government’s management of the Covid-19 crisis.

Casterner appeared before the committee on Tuesday and was notably questioned about the “failure to supply police with masks at the start of the epidemic, after giving caregivers the masks which were allocated for the police force”.

In his defence, the former Minister of the Interior explained that a stock of nearly one and a half million FFP2 masks, allocated for the police, the gendarmerie and the prefectures, had been "distributed to the Regional Health Agency and hospitals " adding that he "made the choice, to apply the decision of the State", giving “priority to caregivers for this type of equipment”.

Covid-19 Figures – Latest figures for Covid-19 hospitalisations in France show that 4,244 people have been admitted to hospital over the last seven days, 651 have been admitted to intensive care and 67 people have died.

Intention to increase paternity leave in France – French President Emmanuel Macron, will today formalise his intention to double the duration of paternity leave in France, which would increase from 14 to 28 days.

The extension would be financed by social security, and not by employers. If the project is successful any employer not respecting the compulsory part of the paternity leave would be liable to a 7,500 euro fine and possible damages, as is already the case for maternity leave.

The French government is hoping to introduce the reform by mid-2021.

European summit postponed - The European summit due to be held on the 24th and 25th of September has been postponed to October 1st and 2nd after a case of Covid-19.

The announcement came after is was revealed that a security guard, who had been in close contact with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, had tested positive. Charles Michel has since tested negative and begun quarantine in line with the regulations from the Belgian health authorities.

SNCF - The SNCF has confirmed that it's starting several train services in Spain next year. After being delayed by the coronavirus crisis, the first line will start operations on March 15th, with several other lines coming into service later in the year.

Business

The founder of the electric vehicle maker Tesla has unveiled technology that he says will make batteries cheaper and more powerful.

Elon Musk also said that there would be the possibility of a “fully autonomous” Tesla in around 3 years time with a price tag of 25,000 dollars.

Mr Musk said that it had always been his dream to make an affordable electric car.

Investor’s ,however weren’t impressed with the news and 50 billion dollars was wiped off Tesla’s share price as a result.

The main point of Mr Musk’s live presentation on Tuesday was the announcement of  larger cylindrical cells with claims that the new batteries will provide 5 times more energy ,six times more power and 16 percent more driving range.

The new technology is likely to take years to implement with a high scrap rate of production initially.

 

The sportswear giant Nike has beaten profit estimates as online sales rose by 82 percent in the quarter ending on the 31st of August.

Online sales of shoes including the Air Max in North America drove quarterly profit  and led to Nike forecasting better-than-expected full year sales.

Shares in the firm rose by 13 percent and are set to open at a record high of 132 dollars later today.

Instore sales have fallen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic but the firm has been focusing on direct sales through its website ,apps and third parties such as Amazon.

Digital sales rocketed by 82 percent amounting to nearly a third of total revenue.

The firm’s chief executive said that digital is the new normal and consumers simply won’t revert back to the old way of doing things.

 

And-The governor of the Bank of England has called on the UK government to “stop and rethink” the furlough scheme.

The Job Retention Scheme is due to finish at the end of October but Andrew Bailey has said that specific sectors could benefit from extra help.

There are concerns that UK unemployment will spike when the furlough scheme ends as firms struggle to retain workers.

Mr Bailey says that he’s open minded about further government intervention although he added that he did not wish to tie the hands of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Previously ,Mr Bailey had said that he backed ending the furlough scheme as he considered that workers should be helped to move on rather than stay in unproductive jobs.

Sport

Covid-19 – Fans may not be able to return to watch live sporting events in England until the end of March at the earliest because of the spread of coronavirus.

Sports including football ,rugby union ,cricket ,Formula 1 and horseracing have all been advised by the Department for Culture ,Media and Sport that they should be preparing not to host any spectators throughout the winter.

Many professional sports clubs could be devastated by the fresh regulations and some are likely to go to the wall ,particularly lower league football and rugby teams.

Football-The West Ham manager David Moyes and two players have tested positive for coronavirus.

West Ham were informed of the positive tests before their 5-1 League Cup win over Hull last night  and all three immediately left the stadium and are self-isolating.

They won’t be able to attend training and will miss the club’s next match against Wolves on Sunday.

Formula 1-The former team principal of Ferrari is to become the sport’s new boss next season.

Stefano Domenicali who left Ferrari in 2014 is currently the chief executive of Lamborghini and is his appointment to the head of Formula 1 has been communicated to the teams.

Formula 1’s CEO and chairman Chase Carey is understood to be staying on but in a role that’s yet to be defined.

Rugby Union-There was one game in the Gallagher Premiership in England last night. Bath beat Gloucester 31-20.

The match was played behind closed doors as Bath were forced to cancel the attendance of 1,000 fans at the last minute following the introduction of new government coronavirus restrictions.

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate south westerly winds.

Top temperature 26 degrees.

Overnight lows of 19 degrees on the coast and 17 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Rain and thunderstorms tomorrow ,mainly fine on Friday .Highs of 22-24 degrees

 

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