Coronavirus – The government is to set out the next phase of coronavirus easing on the 5th May. From Monday the 10km restriction on travel will be lifted and people will be able to visit other regions of the country. College and high school students return to class next week with increased testing for COVID-19 planned across the country and the closure of classes if any case is detected. President Macron has said that the easing of measures must be cautious and gradual. Curfew measures will remain in force for the time being but are likely to be pushed back to 9pm within the next few weeks. Mr Macron will address the nation next week to set out his plans and to lay out a timetable for the opening of bars and restaurant terraces as well as gyms and non essential stores. Cases of coronavirus remain stubbornly high but the government insists that it is on the right track. More than 100,000 people have been killed by the virus in France since the start of the pandemic with 7,353 deaths in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region.
EU - The President of the European Union has warned that the bloc will not hesitate to punish the British government for breaching its Brexit obligations. Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyden said that the European Union still hoped that the trade deal with the UK would be the foundation for a strong and close partnership but conceded that relations are at a crossroads. The UK government has been accused of breaching its commitments in Northern Ireland and on an agreement on fisheries which was brought into force provisionally along with the rest of the trade deal in January.
In a separate development, the French EU Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said that he was concerned about the U.K.’s attitude to French fishermen since it left the common fisheries policy. Mr Beaune warned that France would carry out reprisals in other sectors, notably financial services if the fisheries deal is not upheld. Recently, French fishermen blockaded the Port of Boulogne sur Mer claiming that only 22 of the 120 boats that usually work from the region had been given access to the zone 6 to 12 miles from the UK coast. The British government has denied the claim.
Drug bust – Police in Nice have seized 15kg of drugs following raids in the Moulins area of the city. Sizeable quantities of herbal cannabis and cocaine which had already been cut up for distribution were seized during the operation on Tuesday. An unspecified amount of cash has also been confiscated and three arrests have been made. Last Thursday, a 50-year-old man was shot in the area in what police believe was a drug gang dispute.
Italy restrictions - Authorities have warned French residents not to cross into Italy despite the lifting of some restrictions unless it’s for essential reasons. The Italian government has relaxed restrictions on restaurants tempting some people on this side of the frontier to make a trip for a meal or to do some shopping. Until the 3rd May, the 10km travel restriction is still in force in France and even after that date, visits to Italy are not advised.
Cannabis – The French Observatory for drug use and addiction has said that the government is being heavy-handed in its treatment of cannabis users. Last year, 160,000 people in France were fined for using the drug with the OFDT criticising what it says is overzealous policing. 81% of those apprehended are described as casual users with France still operating one of the most repressive cannabis policies in Europe. President Macron has said that he wants to set up a national debate on cannabis use and its dangers but there is no suggestion of decriminalisation which has become official policy in some other European Union countries as well as parts of the United States.
Player appeal - The French rugby world has come together to support a 25-year-old English player who was seriously injured while playing for Nice against Narbonne last weekend. James Lasis suffered serious spinal injuries during the game and is being treated in hospital in Nice. A support fund for James and his family has been set up by fans, Nice Rugby Club and representatives from both the French and English game and a special email address has been created so James can see messages of support. Please send your messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prince’s Guard - The Prince’s Guard in Monaco is looking for new recruits. The Guard, or Les Carabiniers du Prince, is made up of 124 personnel and applicants must be of either Monagasque or French nationality. Those wishing to apply must be aged between 19 and 27 and are warned that the selection process is extremely tough. Six new recruits will be accepted to join the Guard this year and applicants have until the end of June to present themselves for selection. Applicants must also be at least 1m80 tall but no taller than 2m. Details are available on the official website.
Alphabet, the owner of Google has seen its earnings soar in the first quarter as people stuck at home in the pandemic used more of its services. Net profits jumped by 162% to a record $17.9 billion in three months to March with advertising revenue up by a third. The results come as the tech giant faces increasing scrutiny over its power and the pandemic has people turning to the Internet more than ever. Analysts had expected a good performance as economies around the world have continued to reopen prompting more spending on online advertising. Revenue at Google’s search business jumped by 30% to $31.9 billion in the quarter while sales at YouTube rose by 49% to $6 billion. Despite the runaway profit, Google is continuing to face regulatory action issues over competition and privacy. US and European regulators are continuing to discuss tightening oversight on Google and other tech giants but have yet to agree legislation.
US consumer confidence jumped to a 14 month high in April as increased vaccinations against COVID-19 and additional fiscal stimulus allowed for more businesses to reopen. The upbeat survey from the Conference Board also showed a strong increase in holiday plans, suggesting that the US economy continued to power ahead early in the second quarter. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to a reading of 121.7 this month and followed a reading of 109 in March. It was the fourth straight monthly increase in the index. The United States has expanded vaccination eligibility to American adults and more than half of the population has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The sportscar maker Lotus has announced a new model, the Emira will be its last conventionally powered car. The new design forms part of a major overhaul of the Norfolk based business which is controlled by China’s Geely. Lotus says that the move will form a bridge between what it described as the analogue cars of today and the digital cars of tomorrow. The firm wants all of its models to be electric in future. The investment programme, orchestrated by Geely will see production in the UK tripled as well as expansion overseas and is expected to cost more than £2 billion.
Football – It’s all square between Chelsea and Real Madrid following the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tie last night. Both goals in the one all draw came in the first half with Pulisic giving Chelsea the lead on 14 minutes but Benzema equalising for the Spanish giants in the 29th minute. Chelsea have the vital away goal to take into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
The second semi-final between Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City is being played tonight. Kick off is at 9pm.
There was one game in the English championship last night. Brentford beat Rotherham one nil.
Rugby Union – The England lock Joe Launchbury will miss the British and Irish Lions tour because of a knee injury. The 30-year-old was injured during the Premiership win by Wasps over Bath and has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. Launchbury has 69 caps for England but missed this year’s Six Nations with a stress fracture of his leg. He previously missed out on the 2013 and 2017 Lions tours.
Tennis – Wimbledon will scrap its traditional rest day on the middle Sunday at the tournament from 2022. The Grand Slam will instead be played over 14 consecutive days as a result of better grass court maintenance. Ticket prices will stay at 2020 levels with price money yet to be decided.
Golf – Britain’s leading golfer Tyrrell Hatton has tested positive for coronavirus and withdrawn from this week’s Valspar Championship in Florida. Hatton is the fourth player to pull out after a positive test. He’ll now isolate under CDC guidelines.
Partially cloudy with light southerly winds. Top temperature 17-18 degrees. Overnight lows of 12-14 degrees with cloudy skies.
Thursday and Friday - Rain tomorrow. Sunshine and showers on Friday. Highs of 16-18 degrees.