French and Riviera News Wednesday 3rd February 2021

News 

Three Monegasque residents die from Covid - Three Monegasque residents aged 82, 90 and 92 have died from Covid. Speaking on Tuesday evening, the Minister of State Pierre Dartout said “this evening we deplore a particularly heavy death toll and on behalf of the Princely Government, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families and relatives of these people, adding that he assures them of the full support of the Princely Government at these times of great sadness for the entire national community". Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis a total of 17 residents have died from Covid. Forty-four new cases of Covid were identified on Tuesday bringing the total number of residents affected in the Principality to 1,543. Sixty-two people are currently in hospital and 127 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

Covid figures for the Alpes Maritimes - Meanwhile the Regional Health Agency (ARS) has announced 55 new deaths from Covid-19 in the Alpes-Maritimes on Tuesday. The increase comes due to the update of deaths in nursing homes in the region. 39 of the 55 deaths occurred in nursing homes and 16 in hospitals. Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus has claimed 1,187 victims in the Alpes Maritimes, 838 in hospitals and 349 in nursing homes. Latest figures show that the number of people being hospitalized is decreasing slightly with 371 Covid patients. The incidence rate also decreased slightly with 450 new cases detected over seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.

Strike action - As teaching unions call for strike action tomorrow Thursday 4th February, ten schools in Grasse have already taken necessary action to guarantee a minimum reception service here are the details: 

- Henri Wallon nursery school plans to organize a Minimum Reception Service for school children from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. There will be no morning nursery or school catering service; the extracurricular, however, will function normally for enrolled children.

- The Jasmins nursery school will also offer a Minimum Reception Service for school children from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. There will be no morning nursery or canteen. The extracurricular will operate normally for enrolled children.

- Jean Crabalona nursery school will not have a morning nursery or canteen. But the extracurricular will work normally for enrolled children.

- Les Cinsault nursery school will have no morning nursery, canteen, or school transport. The extracurricular, on the other hand, will work normally for enrolled children.

- Saint-Antoine nursery school will not have school transport either. But the morning nursery, school catering and extracurricular activities will function normally for registered children.

- Saint-Jacques elementary school will not open its morning nursery or canteen. The extracurricular will operate normally for enrolled children.

- Antoine Maure elementary school will not offer morning nursery or school catering services. The extracurricular will operate normally for enrolled children.

- Saint-Antoine elementary school will not open its morning nursery, nor its school catering. There  will  be no school transportation. The extracurricular will operate normally for enrolled children.

- Macary Elementary School will not offer school transport. But the morning nursery, school catering and extracurricular activities will function normally for registered children.

- The Pra d'Estang elementary school will not open its morning nursery or its canteen. The extracurricular will work normally for enrolled children

Speed cameras - In an attempt to clamp down on speeding, six speed cameras have been installed on the Moyenne Corniche, between Roquebrune and Beausoleil. The aim is to improve this stretch of road which is “accident-prone” with motorists driving at particularly “high speeds”.

Emmanuel Macron speaks of vaccination campaign and hopes to avoid a third lockdown - French President Emmanuel Macron has given a surprise interview on French television. During his appearance on TF1 on Tuesday evening, the Head of State assured that “by the end of the summer France will have offered all French adults who wish, a vaccine. While many expected Macron to speak of a possible return to lockdown the President of the Republic chose to speak on the vaccination campaign in France. He said that Europe had "secured" the supply of a total of "2.3 billion" doses, enough to allow all French adults who wish to benefit from it at the latest this summer. He also mentioned the French contribution to the production of doses and a possible authorization of the Russian vaccine.

He also estimated that, "at the beginning of March", the 80% of residents of nursing homes who have requested to be vaccinated will have been vaccinated, i.e. around 500,000 people and that those over 75 will also have been "largely" vaccinated.

Asked about the Sputnik V vaccine, whose effectiveness was estimated at 91.6% in a recent study, the Head of State replied that no distribution in France was possible "as long as the Russian producer had not submitted an application for marketing authorization". "The minute this is submitted, the European authorities and our national authorities will scientifically examine the vaccine independently, and, depending on results and the evidence, will approve it or not”.

The President underlined that "It is not France’s vaccination strategy which will make it possible to avoid, in the short term, a return to lockdown”, but "it is our mobilization to all, that is to say our ability to respect barrier gestures along with the ability to test-support-protect". Concluding that "France will continue to manage the pandemic in this way, with an objective to hold out, to protect the weakest, to protect our health system and to be able to protect as much as possible the younger generations who need to study, go to school, in short, to have a country as open as possible despite the virus”.

French doctor warns of variant - Meanwhile the President of the Public Assistance Hospitals of Paris has said that he expects the English coronavirus variant to "gain the upper hand". Speaking to French media Professor Rémi Salomon said that in the Paris region the variant accounted for 15 to 20% of cases last week, up from 6% on 7th January and is growing exponentially. He added that the coronavirus measures in place at the moment will not be enough and called for a return to lockdown including the closure of schools.

France’s Europe minister claims that Britain “has taken a lot of risks” with its vaccination campaign - France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune has said that Britain has taken “a lot of risks” in rolling out its speedy Covid vaccination programme as officials in Brussels claimed the EU had “nothing to envy” from nations such as the UK, the US and Israel.

The European commission has in recent days, been locked in a bitter public fight with AstraZeneca, over a significant shortfall in expected doses in the first quarter of 2021. Which raised questions about how momentum will be gained in the coming weeks. On Monday, Beaune also defended the EU’s record, adding that the UK’s apparent success had “nothing to do with Brexit”. He claimed the UK strategy had involved risks that France’s public would have found intolerable.

Monaco’s Minister of State meets with France’s Europe Minister - Meanwhile Monaco’s Minister of State met with France’s Minister of State Clément Beaune on Monday February 1st at the Quai d'Orsay to discuss the draft association agreement between Monaco and the European Union. The meeting marked an opportunity to take stock of negations which have been continuing since 2015 to evaluate the progress made as well as to highlight the points which remain to be negotiated and the need to preserve Franco-Monegasque ties of friendship and cooperation. The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss France's priorities in the context of its presidency of the Council of the European Union, which it will hold during the first half of 2022.

Police checks - Increased police checks have been taking place in Nice to ensure compliance with coronavirus measures in shops. Meanwhile, border police in the Alpes Maritimes have been carrying out controls. There were 44 offences recorded for non-presentation of a PCR test. 618 people were checked at the airport with three fines issued for non-presentation of a PCR test and one non-medical admission.

Vaccination center - A vaccination center has opened at the Palais Nikaia in Nice. Deputy mayor Anthony Borre said that "even though the vaccine supply is insufficient", no appointments have been cancelled.

Monaco Run cancelled for amateurs - Due to the current health situation, the Monegasque Athletics Federation has announced with regret that the Monaco Run will be cancelled for amateurs. The run which was scheduled for the 14th February including three races of 5km for all ages will be reserved only for professional athletes in compliance with the recommendations of international sports bodies, and in agreement with the Princely Government and the Monegasque Athletics Federation. Nearly 450 runners were registered for this year's event which will now see only around thirty professionals take part on February 14th.

Climate change projections for France - According to new climate change projections by the country's national weather service, France as a whole is on track to heat up nearly three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by about 2070. The report showed that in the worst-case scenario - which scientists cannot exclude - southern France could experience one or two months of continuous heatwaves by 2100. 

Business

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is to step down as chief executive and become executive chairman instead. Mr Bezos, who founded Amazon and started the business in his garage 30 years ago says that he’s taken the decision to give him “time and energy” to focus on his other ventures. The world’s richest man will be replaced by the head of Amazon Web Services Andy Jassy with the change happening in the second half of this year. Mr Bezos, who’s 57, has led Amazon since its start as an online bookshop in 1994. The firm now employs 1.3 million staff globally and has a hand in everything from package deliveries to cloud services and advertising. Amazon saw its value skyrocket in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in online shopping.

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called a meeting of the country’s top financial regulators to discuss market volatility driven by retail trading in GameStop, silver and other stocks favoured on social media. Ms Yellen will convene a meeting with the heads of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission possibly as early as tomorrow. Under discussion will be the recent volatility in financial markets and whether recent activities are consistent with investor protection and fair and efficient markets. The action comes following days of volatility in the shares of the video game retailer GameStop, the cinema chain AMC Entertainment and other stocks favoured on the Reddit social media site’s WallStreetBets forum. Last week, retail investors bid up the shares to force short-sellers to close their positions sending GameStop to a dizzying high of 483 dollars. The firm has now crashed down to earth with its shares ending Tuesday down 60 percent and valued at just 90 dollars.

Google’s parent company Alphabet has reported record revenues for the second straight quarter as advertisers flocked to its services during the festive period. Cutbacks by travel and entertainment advertisers were more than offset by new spending by online retail clients and others during lockdown. Google’s advertising business including YouTube accounted for 81 percent of Alphabet’s 56.9 billion dollars in 4th quarter sales which were up by 23 percent on a year earlier. The firm’s cloud unit also saw strong growth with sales up by 46 percent on 2019.

Sport

Football - There were four games in the English Premier League on Tuesday with Manchester United hammering 9 man Southampton 9-0 at Old Trafford. Sheffield United are still battling after winning the relegation dog-fight 2-1 against West Brom while Wolves beat Arsenal 2-1 and Newcastle lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace. There are 5 games tonight. Burnley play Manchester City. Fulham host Leicester. Leeds play Everton. Aston Villa host West Ham and Liverpool play Brighton.

In the English Championship last night, Millwall and Norwich drew 0-0. Sheffield Wednesday were 2-1 winners at Bournemouth. Coventry lost 2-1 at home to Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers and Birmingham drew 0-0.

In the Scottish Premiership Livingston were 2-0 winners at Aberdeen. St Mirren lost 2-1 at home to Hibs and Celtic were 4-0 winners at Kilmarnock.

Cricket - Bangladesh are playing West Indies in the first Test in Chattogram. The home side won the toss and decided to bat. After 25 overs they’d reached 66-2.

Rugby Union - The 6 Nations will go ahead as planned after the French government said that quarantine restrictions will be eased for the tournament. Matches will go ahead at the scheduled date in a bio-secure bubble. Scotland and Wales will visit Paris while France travel to Italy, Ireland and England. The tournament starts on Saturday.

Weather

Partially cloudy with light variable winds. Top temperature 14 degrees. Overnight lows of 9 to 10 degrees with cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Cloudy tomorrow, fine on Friday. Highs of 13-15 degrees.

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