Covid shows signs of slowing down in France - The number of new daily cases of Covid in France is slowing down, with the week-on-week increase in cases below 3% for a third consecutive day on Tuesday May 4th. The average daily rate of new infections is now down to 20,866, less than half than the 42,000 seen mid-April. The number of people in hospitals with Covid also fell again after two days of increases and was down by 523 to 28,427. The number of people in intensive care units with Covid fell by 126 to 5,504 but remains close to a recent high of over 6,000. France also reported 257 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday May 4th, including 243 in hospitals - down from 311 on the previous day.
Vaccination campaign - The French government is gradually unwinding lockdown and curfew measures, hoping that a stepped-up vaccination drive and continued social distancing will bring the epidemic under control. The government says it’s on target to giving 20 million people their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine by mid-May. As of May 1st, nearly 15.8 million people had received a first vaccine dose. At the beginning of the week health officials said more than 3 million doses would be administered this week, compared with 2.7 million last week.
Tourists - Non-EU tourists will be welcomed back to France in June depending on certain health criteria under plans announced by the EU and France. French President Emmanuel Macron said that “from June 9th it will be possible for tourists from non-EU countries to come to France for holidays on conditions linked to their proof of health status”. At present tourism between EU countries is allowed subject to tests and self-isolation in many cases.
Digital Health passes – Meanwhile France is expected to use digital health passes, linked to the TousAntiCovid app and to an EU-wide ‘digital green certificate’ scheme that is currently being developed. The certificate is intended to be a way of proving that a person has had a recent negative Covid test, has been vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine or has recovered from having the illness. French Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to give more details on the digital health pass next week.
In other news
Climate change bill - France’s National Assembly has approved a wide-ranging climate change bill that will prevent the expansion of airports, see an end to open-air terrace heaters and reduce packaging waste. As France aims to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels environmental activists say it is “too slow in achieving this”.
The legislation which is to pass to the Senate before a final vote would ban the use of gas heaters on outdoor terraces of cafes and restaurants from April 2022. Schools will have to offer a menu without meat or fish at least one day a week and supermarkets will have to reduce wasteful packaging to cut plastics use. The bill also intends to cut domestic flights on routes served by a train ride of under 2.5 hours and introduce a ban from 2030 on the sale of cars emitting more than 95 grammes of CO2 per kilometre. And landlords will be prohibited from renting out poorly insulated properties.
Parking metres to be put back into use - Motorist in Cannes and Grasse will soon be charged again for street parking. With the end of the daytime lockdown Cannes and Grasse will soon see the return of parking metres. In Grasse the system will be back in operation from Wednesday May 19th and in Cannes from Monday May 24th. During recent lockdowns parking metres had been suspended across the region.
Product recall - The brand "Le Fumoir du Poissonnier" has recalled it’s 100g packets of smoked albacore tuna sold in Grand Frais stores in France due to the potential presence of listeria. In a press release on Tuesday it was announced that the product with a specific manufacturering code FR-974.07.063-CE and a use-by date of May 16th, 2021 must not be consumed. Concerned customers can contact 06 92 25 60 06 for more information.
Man moves border - A group of local historians have discovered that a Belgian farmer, perhaps unwittingly, moved Belgium's border with France. The man moved a 150-kilogram stone to enlarge his land near the Belgian village of Erquelinnes. But in doing so, he also modified the 200-year-old international border defined by the 1820 Treaty of Kortrijk. As a result of his actions, the border was moved enlarging southern Belgian territory. The stone in question, engraved with the date 1819, establishes the border between southern Belgium and northern France. It was created following Napoleon's defeat at the Belgian town of Waterloo in 1815 and before Belgium was formed as a state in 1830.
Fancy an Aston Martin DB5 identical to that of James Bond? - The Artcurial Motorcars here in the Principality has unveiled the first cars registered at its next auction, on July 19th and amongst them is an Aston Martin DB5 identical to that of James Bond. About a hundred cars will be auctioned on July 19th at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monaco. Cars "each more remarkable than the next" for the "most anticipated sale of the summer".
The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that interest rates may have to rise to keep the economy from overheating. Speaking during an economic forum, Yellen said that even though the additional spending by the government is relatively small to the size of the economy it could cause some very modest increases in interest rates. She said that the government’s investments are needed by the economy to be competitive and productive and growth will be faster because of them. Later in the day, Ms Yellen tempered her comments saying that she respects the independence of the Federal Reserve and is not trying to influence decision-making. Janet Yellen chaired the Fed from 2014 to 2018. The US economy has been rocketing recently with first quarter GDP growth at 6.4%. Recently, Goldman Sachs said that it anticipates second quarter growth of around 10.5 %.
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says that demand for its Covid vaccine could bolster its revenue for years. Pfizer said that it was expecting “durable demand” for the vaccine in a similar way to flu vaccines. In the first three months of the year, the vaccine generated revenues of 3.5 billion dollars as governments scrambled to try to contain the pandemic. Revenue from the treatment is expected to hit $26 billion this year, accounting for more than a third of Pfizer sales. Pfizer says it expects to sign more deals this year and is in supply talks with several countries for 2022 and beyond.
A report by Reuters says that US safety officials have asked Boeing to supply fresh analysis and documentation showing that numerous 737 Max subsystems would not be affected by electrical grounding issues first flagged in three areas of the jet in April. The extra analysis brings new uncertainty over the timing of when Boeing’s bestselling jetliner will be cleared to fly by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The electrical problems have suspended nearly a quarter of the firm’s 737 Max fleet. US airlines have said that they expect Boeing to release the service bulletins as soon as this week that would allow them to make fixes and return the planes to service. The latest issue is likely to push the timetable back.
Formula One – Monaco will open grandstands to the public for the Grand Prix later this month. Monaco authorities say grandstands will be open at up to 40% of full capacity for the three days of the event on the 20th, 22nd and 23rd of May. Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 7,500 spectators a day and there will be no restriction on the country of origin for those attending the event. Spectators will have to take a PCR test for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before attending the event and take proof of a negative result to the track. Monaco residents and workers attending will not have to provide a PCR test.
Football – Manchester City are through to their first ever Champions League final. City beat Paris Saint Germain two nil on the night at the Etihad to win the tie 4–1 on aggregate. They’ll meet the winners of the second semi-final between Chelsea and Real Madrid which is being played tonight. The score is tied at 1-1 after first leg. Kick off is at 9 pm.
There was one game in the English Championship last night. Luton and Rotherham drew 0–0. The result means that Rotherham’s Championship survival hopes are out of their hands and they’ll need other results to go their way if they are to stay up.
Cricket – The Indian Premier League has been suspended after several more players tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement, the IPL said that it had unanimously decided to postpone the season after an emergency meeting. Many foreign players have been playing in the IPL and countries are now working to repatriate their nationals although the authorities in England say that there are no plans to charter a flight to bring players home.
Mainly fine with moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 21-23 degrees. Overnight lows of 14-15 degrees with clear skies.
Thursday and Friday - Mainly fine with a brisk westerly wind and highs of 21-25 degrees.