French and Riviera News Wednesday 2nd February 2022

News

Easing of covid restrictions - From today February 2nd, wearing a mask outdoors, teleworking and limitations on the number of people at public gatherings, are no longer mandatory in France. The move comes as part of an easing of covid restrictions. Both teleworking and wearing a mask outdoors are still recommended, when possible, especially wearing a mask in crowded situations.

No change in Monaco - In Monaco no changes to restrictions have yet been announced and wearing a mask outdoors, for the time being, remains mandatory and teleworking is still in place until March 4th. On Tuesday the Principality identified 143 new cases of covid and announced the death of a 92-year-old resident who had tested positive for covid. Since the beginning of the pandemic 8,502 residents have been affected and 48 have died. The government has expressed its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased, assuring their "full support at this painful time". 83 people are currently hospitalised and 310 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Latest figures for the Alpes Maritimes - Meanwhile the latest figures for the Alpes Maritimes have shown that the health situation is stabilising in the region despite an increase in the number of hospitalisations. In a statement published on Tuesday the Regional Health Agency evokes that the "circulation seems to be stabilising with the incidence rate beginning to decline". On 1st February, 337 patients were hospitalized in the Alpes-Maritimes due to covid and hospital mortality remains very high with 56 deaths recorded in one week. Since the beginning of the epidemic, Covid-19 has caused 2,568 deaths (including 492 in nursing homes) in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Government ministers to meet today - As restrictions are lifted today in France, French President Emmanuel will meet with cabinet ministers. Government ministers are set to discuss the state of the covid epidemic as one leading emergency doctor warns that "the epidemic is not over".

Subvariant of Omicron BA.2 more contagious - A Danish study, a country where the "subvariant" of Omicron BA.2 is largely dominant, has claimed that the latter is more contagious than the original. Unvaccinated people are also more likely to be infected with the subvariant compared to Omicron. The study shows that if someone in your household is infected with BA.2, there is an overall 39% risk that another member of the household will be infected within the first week. On the other hand, if the person is infected with BA.1, the risk is 29%," said the Danish Infectious Diseases Control Authority (SSI). The study further shows that vaccinated people, and especially those who have received a booster, are much less likely to be infected.

Future crisis for people in emergency accommodation in France - In its annual report on poor housing in France, the Abbé Pierre Foundation has warned of a "future crisis". In what is being described as a "bitter assessment of Emmanuel Macron's term in office" figures from the association show that there are currently 300,000 people living in emergency accommodation as the number of homeless people has exploded in France. This figure has reportedly doubled in the last ten years and tripled in the last year. Poverty and Covid, unfortunately, go hand in hand. According to figures from the Abbé Pierre Foundation, at least 300,000 men, women and children do not have a home. "Among them, 27,000 would be homeless, 180,000 in general accommodation, and 100,000 accommodated in the national system of reception of asylum seekers."

Sharp rise in number of drug seizures in France - Government figures released this week have shown a sharp increasing in the number of drug seizures in 2021 with a record level of cocaine being seized in France. Customs seized a total of 115 tons of narcotics last year. Cannabis remains the most seized drug by customs, with more than 74 tons intercepted, up 24% year-on-year. In 2021 customs tightened its controls on e-commerce to uncover previously poorly understood trafficking.

National Theatre of Nice  - Workers have started taking down the National Theatre of Nice with the removal of a monumental artwork in the forecourt of the Mamac last night, as Niki de Saint Phalle's "Loch Ness Monster" was removed by crane. The demolition of the site is expected to begin soon.

High pollen count in PACA region - Atmosud has warned of a particularly "high" pollen count in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region. The warning came in a press release on Tuesday February 1st which warned that the risk of allergy was at its highest level and is expected to remain that way for several weeks. 

Business

US earnings have been less impressive for the 4th quarter giving some investors further concerns about Wall Street's direction after a rollercoaster start to the year. Disappointing news from Goldman Sachs which missed quarterly profit expectations and Netflix which issued a downbeat forecast have added to pressure on stocks with some heavyweights yet to report. Google provided some positive news on Tuesday with its shares rising by 7 percent in after-hours trading on the back of higher than expected quarterly sales but PayPal Holdings slumped by 17 percent after failing to match up to its pace of growth last year. Amazon and Meta Platforms are due to report earnings later this week.

S&P 500 firms are still beating analysts' forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2021 but they're doing so at a much lower margin than over the past year when companies were just bouncing back from the depths of the health crisis. Google's parent company Alphabet has reported quarterly sales that topped expectations as its internet advertising business as consumers used Google search for online shopping and advertisers boosted their budgets. Shares in Alphabet rose by more than 8 percent on the news with investors betting that the global trend towards a more digital economy has made large tech firms more resistant to small market shocks. Sales jumped by 32 percent to 75.3 billion dollars in the fourth quarter for the third straight quarterly record and topping estimates of 72 billion. Analysts' say that the figures show that Google's growth is "unstoppable" for the foreseeable future.

The UK government is facing a backlash from environmental groups after approving a new North Sea oil field just weeks after the Cop26 UN climate talks in Glasgow. The Abigail oil and gas field off the east coast of Scotland was approved by the government's Oil and Gas Authority last month, defying climate experts who say that no new fossil fuel developments are compatible with the world's climate targets. Climate campaigners object to the development as they say that it will do little to help the UK secure energy supplies while at the same time contributing to carbon emissions. The government has pledged to hold the operator to account on emissions reductions as part of its stewardship.

Sport

American Football - The legendary quarterback Tom Brady has announced that he's to retire from the sport at the age of 44. Brady has won 7 Super Bowl titles and broken every quarterback record in the book during a career spanning 22 seasons. He says that he can no longer make the "competitive commitment" to the sport and that it's time to call it a day. He won 6 Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots before switching to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he added a 7th. His final game in the NFL came in a narrow defeat to the Los Angeles Rams where his mastery just failed to pull off a sensational comeback.

Football - There were two games in the English Championship last night. Millwall and Preston drew 0-0 and Swansea lost 1-0 at home to Luton.

In the Scottish Premiership Dundee and Dundee United drew 0-0. Hibs and Hearts drew 0-0. Livingston lost 2-1 at home to St Johnstone. Ross County and Aberdeen drew 1-1 and St Mirren and Motherwell drew 1-1.

Rugby Union - Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill have been ruled out of England's 6 Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday. Lawes has failed to recover from concussion and Hill has picked up a foot injury. Prop Joe Marler returned to training on Tuesday after recovering from coronavirus.

Weather

Clear skies with a strong Mistral developing across the Var with gusts of up to 75 km/h. Top temperatures 16 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes.17-19 degrees in the Var. Overnight lows of 9-12 degrees on the coast and 3-5 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Mainly fine with highs of 13-17 degrees.

And Finally

According to researchers in Hungary if your dog is ultra-friendly, they might have trouble establishing themselves in the presence of other dogs. The results from a study showed that friendlier dogs are lower down the pecking order in multi-dog households. They found that dogs that are more extraverted, conscientious and open rank higher in the hierarchy, while more agreeable and affectionate dogs generally rank lower. In addition, older dogs tend to dominate in multi-dog households, which suggest dogs may get more authoritative as they mature.  

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