French and Riviera News Wednesday 2nd December 2020

News 

Ski resorts - “Don’t go skiing in Switzerland or Italy” is the message from French President Emmanuel Macron, who has announced plans to take “restrictive and dissuasive measures to prevent the French from going skiing abroad, especially in Switzerland. The Head of State said on Tuesday that he did not want to "create a situation of imbalance with stations in France".

With ski lifts closed in France for Christmas the Head of State said that he understood "the anguish of elected mountain officials and professionals" and assured that everything was being done to "be able to start again as soon as possible in January" when there will be more visibility" on the Covid-19 epidemic. Faced with the discontent of mountain professionals, the French government has announced a series of aid measures, in particular compensation for ski lifts closed in December, and a partial unemployment scheme for seasonal workers.

Meanwhile French MP Pascale Fontenel-Person has suggested postponing the winter and spring school holidays to “save” the winter sports season saying that this would make it possible to limit the number of visitors to the stations, while spreading the season over a longer period.

Vaccination – During Tuesday’s press conference President Macron also announced that a general public vaccination programme will take place "between April and June" after the vaccination of the most vulnerable groups. Speaking during the press conference with the Belgian Prime Minister, Macron said that the first wave of vaccinations, which will "not be a general public campaign" will take place as soon as possible after approvals had been received, "between the end of December and the beginning of January."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that elderly people in nursing homes will be vaccinated as a priority and that he will give details of the government's vaccine strategy from this Thursday.

Travel - The French Minister of Transport has said that people will be able to take the train or plane as soon as lockdown is lifted. Speaking in an interview on French television the minister said that "100% of trains" would be available and that tickets would be exchangeable or refundable until the day of departure. He added that he expects the supply of plane tickets to be tripled compared to the confinement period.

Covid-19 - Figures published on Tuesday have shown that the number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in France has dropped below the 28,000 threshold. The number of patients in intensive care continues to decline: 3,594 patients with Covid-19 are still in intensive care units, compared to 3,739 the day before. The country has recorded 8,083 new cases of Covid-19 infection in 24 hours, and 365 new deaths according to data from Public Health France. For the first time since November 4th, the number of hospitalized patients fell below the threshold of 28,000, after a peak of more than 33,000 patients reached on November 16th.

World AIDS Day - Associations in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region have marked World AIDS Day on Tuesday with a strong message saying that “screening is essential”. December 1st marked World AIDS Day and screening remains the key issue in the fight against HIV which began more than 40 years ago. 38 million people around the world live with HIV. In France last year, 1.7 million new infections were identified. The Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region is also the third most affected metropolitan region. In 2020, there were 650,000 fewer tests compared to 2019 and because of the Covid epidemic, HIV testing has been neglected.

Toys - The CCAS of Menton is appealing for donations of toys for children from families in difficulty in the town. Because of Covid-19 there will be no chalet this year and only new toys are being accepted. Donations of toys can be left at the CCAS at 4 Promenade Maréchal Leclerc in Menton from December 7th to 18th.

Le Lavandou to Corsica to raise awareness on marine pollution - Extreme free diver Michel Nox, has swum from Le Lavandou in the Var to Corsica to raise awareness on marine pollution. Accustomed to sporting achievements, 46-year-old Nox, swam 236km in eight days.

Monaco property remains resilient - Savills Monaco - Despite this very special context, we were surprised by the resilience of the Monegasque market and its ability to ensure business continuity. Whether rental or acquisition, the market has remained extremely dynamic and Monaco managed to maintain a level of transactions equivalent to 2019 in terms of re-sales during the first 6 months of 2020. We are happy to see the region remains very attractive to investors! For more real estate advice go to en.savills.mc.

Business

The carnage on the UK high street is continuing with the news that all Debenhams stores are to close following the failure of last-ditch efforts to save the ailing chain store. 12,000 people are set to lose their jobs when the 124 stores in the chain close their doors and the news comes just hours after Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group entered administration putting 13,000 jobs at risk. Debenhams had been in administration since April and hopes of a rescue deal were finally crushed on Tuesday when the last remaining bidder JD Sports withdrew. The 242-year-old business had already been trimming its store portfolio and laying off staff since May as it struggled to stay afloat. Tough trading during the coronavirus pandemic has been the last straw for Debenhams and Arcadia who employ more than 25,000 people between them.

Bitcoin has been continuing its recent meteoric rally reaching a peak of 19,920 dollars briefly on Tuesday before falling back. The virtual currency has risen by more than 170 percent since the start of the year with analysts suggesting that some investors have been treating it as a safe haven asset. After reaching a previous peak three years ago, Bitcoin fell back to 3,300 dollars and despite reaching nearly 20,000 dollars on Tuesday, it quickly shed more than 1,500 dollars. Other factors which have prompted the recent rally are a decision by PayPal to allow its platform to be used to buy and sell the virtual currency as well as a number of large institutional investors declaring an interest in buying into funds tied to it.

French tax authorities have confirmed that UK residents who own second homes in France will no longer benefit from the EU exemption from social levies. The news means that UK residents with second homes in France will pay a total tax levy of 36.2 percent on profits when they sell their property. France has become an increasingly popular target for British residents wishing to purchase a holiday home because of attractive prices in many rural areas as well as the amount of stock. UK residents have also been attracted by the relative ease they can reach their second home by air, rail and road but all that will now change after the transition period ends on the 31st of December. Any enquiries about your tax rights in France as a non-resident after the Brexit transition period ends can be made to Blevins Franks who have a useful downloadable guide on their website www.blevinsfranks.com

Sport