French and Riviera News Wednesday 6th January 2021

News

Rise in Covid-19 cases in Monaco - 30 new cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Monaco on Tuesday bringing the total number of residents affected to 947 since the beginning of the pandemic. Twenty people are currently hospitalized and 108 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre. 763 people have recovered from Covid in the Principality. The evolution of the health situation in Monaco over the past few days shows an active circulation of the virus. As the Christmas holidays come to an end, the number of people testing positive is on the rise. To limit the movement of people in the Principality, the Government recommends working from home in both the private and public sectors until further notice along with the closure of all sports halls and swimming pools, as well as a more general ban on the practice of sport in a closed environment, including school sporting activities for at least three weeks until January 27th.

Regional Health Agency for the PACA region - Meanwhile during a press video conference on Tuesday, Philippe de Mester, the director general of the Regional Health Agency for the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region has stressed the importance of the deployment of vaccination centers in order to quickly achieve collective immunity in the region.

In the PACA region, the first phase of vaccination targets nearly 600 collective accommodation establishments including nursing homes and long-term care units which represent around 40,000 people. These are people deemed "most directly exposed with a heavy toll", since a third of the deaths linked to Covid-19 in France are residents from these establishments.

Also considered a priority at the start of the campaign are healthcare professionals over 50 and since Tuesday, two additional targets have been added to the first phase of vaccination: firefighters and home care helpers. Vaccinations have started in Nice and Marseille and centers will be set up within a week in Grasse, Cannes, Antibes, Menton and Roquebillière. Deliveries of the vaccination are announced for today in the Alpes-de-Haute Provence, Hautes-Alpes and Vaucluse. Vaccination should start tomorrow in Avignon. By the end of next week, other centers will also open in Carpentras and Cavaillon. A network of vaccination centers will gradually be deployed throughout the region. They should start "within a week" according to the director of the Regional Health Agency, upon receipt of the current vaccines.

Could school holidays be extended? - France’s education minister has not ruled out the possibility of extending the school holidays in February. Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, Jean Michel Blanquer said that all possibilities were being considered in the fight against the spread of Covid. Zone B which includes the academy of Aix-Marseille and Nice are due to break up on February 20th until March 8th.

Ski resorts - Ski resorts could remain closed despite a planned reopening from Thursday. 20,000 new cases of Covid were reported in France on Tuesday as the government plans to hold a defence council meeting this morning to take stock of the health situation, with further announcements expected from the Prime Minister tomorrow, Thursday January 7th.

Former French Health Minister appointed to work at the World Health Organization - The announcement that France’s former Health Minister Agnès Buzyn is to join the World Health Organization has caused a wave of criticism from the opposition. The 58-year-old doctor, specialist in leukemia and bone marrow transplants entered politics and the French government in May 2017 after the victory of Emmanuel Macron. She left her post as Minister of Health in February 2020, at the start of the coronavirus epidemic.

French workers anger at bonus to CEO - The 47-million-dollar bonus which has been promised to the CEO of General Electric has been considered as "scandalous" by French workers. General Electric announced in the spring, a plan to save 2 billion dollars by cutting 13,000 jobs with two sites in France being particularly affected. During a press conference on Tuesday, unions and elected officials from the two cities affected by the job cuts within the American group called it “totally scandalous”.

Shooting - A 19-year-old has been injured following a shooting in the Moulins district of Nice. The shooting occurred shortly after 1pm on Tuesday. One other individual has been placed in police custody. The district has witnessed several shootings in the past, the last one to date was on December 26th. An investigation has been opened to determine the reason behind the shooting.

Missing person - The police of the Alpes de Haute-Provence have launched an appeal for any witnesses following the worrying disappearance of a 95-year-old man from La Roquette-sur-Var. The man living in La Roquette-sur-Var left his home on Sunday in his white Peugeot 108 and has not been seen since. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 04 93 08 71 32 or 04 93 18 42 53 or dial 17.

Traffic disrupted on Promenade following accident - Traffic has been disrupted on the Promenade des Anglais after a crash occurred involving two vehicles on Tuesday afternoon shortly after 3pm. Emergency services treated one person on site, the cause of the collision is still to be determined.

Snowfall - The resort of Gréolières-les-Neiges has enjoyed significant snowfall over the last few days with a record of 1.5 metres covering the hills. The current cold spell in the region is expected to last a few more days with temperatures below normal for the season.

Business

US stock futures have fallen back this morning on the prospect that Democrats could win both Senate runoffs in Georgia. With the count too close to call in both races, investors are bracing for a possible Democrat win which would give them control of both houses of Congress, ushering in larger fiscal stimulus by President elect Joe Biden as well as increased corporate regulation and higher taxes. Analysts say that having control of both houses could lead to sweeping changes in policy. President elect Biden is set to propose reversing Donald Trump’s tax cuts, increase the minimum wage and strengthen regulation on various industries which would not be particularly market friendly. S&P futures were down by 0.47 percent a little earlier with Nasdaq futures down by 0.7 percent. On the plus side for investors, a Democratic held Congress is likely to lead to more fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending which would almost certainly lead to a sugar rush for markets.

President Trump has signed an executive order banning transactions with 8 Chinese owned apps. The apps targeted include the popular payments platform Alipay as well as QC Wallet and WeChat pay. The order, which will come into effect in 45 days bans the apps because they are considered to be a threat to US national security. President Trump says that the United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software apps to protect national security. The Trump administration has been increasing pressure on Chinese firms in the final months of the Presidency. Executive orders have been signed against a range of Chinese firms on the basis that they could share data with the Chinese government.,

In the UK, new car registrations fell to their lowest level in nearly three decades last year according to figures from the industry trade body. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders says that around 1.63 million new cars were registered last year, compared with 2.3 million in 2019, a fall of 29 percent. It was also the largest fall since World War 2 when factories were being turned over to military production. The bulk of the lost sales occurred during the first coronavirus lockdown in the Spring when showrooms were forced to close and factories shut down. The SMMT says that the pandemic has so far cost the car industry 20 billion pounds and resulted in a 2 billion pound cost to the exchequer in lost VAT.

Sport

Football - Spurs are through to the League Cup Final in England following a 2-0 win over Brentford. Jose Mourinho’s side will meet the winner of the second semi-final between Manchester United and Manchester City which is being played tonight. The former England and Manchester City star Colin Bell has died following a short illness at the age of 74. The midfielder made 501 appearances for City between 1966 and 1979 scoring 153 goals. He played 48 times for England. In 2004 Manchester City fans voted to name one of the stands at the Etihad Stadium in Bell’s honour. A statement by the Club said that he would always be remembered as one of Manchester City’s best ever players.

Cricket - The England touring party have been retested for Coronavirus in Sri Lanka after all-rounder Moeen Ali returned a positive test on Monday. England are hoping to start training today ahead of the first Test which starts next week. Moeen is self isolating as is Chris Woakes who’s been deemed a close contact.

South Africa have thrashed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets inside three days in the second Test in Johannesburg. The tourists were dismissed for 211 in their second innings leaving the hosts needing just 67 to win. South Africa win the series 2-0.

New Zealand have beaten Pakistan by an innings and 176 runs in the second Test in Christchurch. The hosts only needed to bat once and made a massive 659-6 declared before dismissing the tourists for 186 in their second innings on day 4 to win the series 2-0.

Formula 1 - Williams are to use Mercedes gearboxes from 2022 after agreeing to expand technical collaboration with the German team. Williams have been using Mercedes engines since 2014 and the new partnership will also see them use related hydraulic components from next season.

Rugby Union - The Lions series against South Africa could be staged in the UK and Ireland if Covid-19 prevents fans from travelling. The idea is among contingency plans being discussed by the Lions board if the trip to South Africa has to be cancelled. The South Africa Rugby Union has made it clear that a tour without visiting fans would not be commercially viable.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly winds. Top temperature 10 degrees. Overnight lows of 3 degrees on the coast and -2 degrees inland with a widespread frost and clear skies.

Thursday and Friday - Cloudy tomorrow, partially cloudy on Friday. Highs of 7-9 degrees.

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