Covid deaths - The Regional Health Authority (ARS) has announced 49 new deaths from coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes. 30 of the latest fatalities came in nursing homes across the department and 19 in hospitals. Since the start of the pandemic there have been 1,289 deaths from Covid-19 in the Alpes Maritimes. 307 people are currently in hospital being treated for the virus with 108 requiring mechanical ventilation. Hospital occupancy rates remain high at 87.6 percent and the infection rate in the department has risen again to 591 per 100,000 thousand residents in the week ending the 21st of February.
Lockdown opposition - The Mayor of Antibes has appealed to the prefect of the Alpes Maritimes to extend the permitted exercise period during the weekend lockdown from one to three hours. Jean Leonetti says that it would be better for a family with three children to be allowed out to get fresh air in local parks or on the beach rather than forcing them to stay in an apartment from 6pm on a Friday to 6am on Monday morning. Mr Leonetti is skeptical about the new measures and doesn’t think a weekend lockdown will help to drive down transmission rates of the virus to any great extent. He says that the 6pm to 6am curfew hasn’t reduced the number of cases of coronavirus circulating in the Alpes Maritimes substantially and he has no reason to believe that a weekend lockdown will be any more effective.
Meanwhile a war of words has broken out between Mr Leonetti and the Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi. Mr Estrosi has been critical of Mr Leonetti’s views and says that he should reconsider as Antibes has been sending coronavirus patients to Nice for treatment as the Fontonne Hospital is overcrowded. Mr Leonetti, who’s a cardiologist by profession has hit back. He says that the local hospital serves 200,000 people including some who live in the metropolitan Nice area. He added that the weekly figures show that the rate of positive tests for coronavirus in the Antibes region is running at 7.6 percent which accounts for only 35 percent of all infected people requiring hospital treatment.
Open or closed? - There appears to be some confusion over which shops will be allowed to open during the forthcoming weekend lockdown. Food stores and supermarkets both large or small will be open as will garages, pharmacies, garden centres, car accessory outlets, bicycle shops, frozen food outlets, bakers, stationers, tobacconists and car hire offices. Shops over 5,000 square meters and shopping centres will not be open and hairdressers will have to close.
New “attestation”- A new “attestation derogatoire” will need to be filled out for anyone wishing to go out during the weekend lockdown. The form will be different to previous editions and has not yet been published. It will be available for download before the end of the week.
Holidays - The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has confirmed that people with holiday reservations in mountain areas or somewhere else in France will be allowed to travel to their destination. Anyone traveling after 6pm on Friday will need to show a valid reservation and produce the paper justification which must be filled out by anyone out on the roads or streets after the 6pm curfew or during the weekend lockdown.
Free parking - Nice city council has announced that there will be free parking on the streets on both the Saturdays of the forthcoming weekend lockdowns. Motorists are reminded not to put cash or card payments into parking meters which will take the money but no checks will be carried out by traffic wardens or CCTV.
No church - Attending a religious service during the weekend lockdown will not be permitted. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious establishments will not be allowed to host the public. The only valid reasons for going out between 6pm on Friday and 6am on Monday will be to walk a dog, take a one hour period of exercise, attend a medical appointment or to shop for food or other essential supplies. Anyone out in public must be carrying the paper justification to show to police if asked.
Demo - Around a hundred people have taken part in a protest over the weekend lockdown on the place de la Prefecture in Nice. Protestors marched to the City Hall where a number of placards were handed in. 9 of the demonstrators then chained themselves to the railings outside the building but the protest broke up peacefully in the afternoon.
Actor charged - The French actor Gerard Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault. An initial investigation against the 72-year-old star was dropped in 2019 for a lack of evidence but was reopened last summer. Mr Depardieu is accused of raping and sexually assaulting a woman in her 20s at his Paris home in August 2018. The star’s lawyer says that he “completely refutes” the allegations. He’s been released on bail but under judicial supervision.
Crooks jailed - Six women and a man of Bosnian and Croatian nationality have been remanded in custody in connection with a series of thefts in Cannes, Antibes and Cagnes sur Mer. Reports say that the gang, who had been operating for some time, used a number of ruses to trick their mainly elderly victims into revealing their bank card codes. Police from Cannes who have been leading the investigation made arrests in Cannes la Bocca earlier in the week. Those arrested are aged between 20 and 70 and are said to have confessed to the crimes. They’re all being held in custody until trial.
X-Ray specs - Many of us will have old X-Rays lying around. A reminder of an unfortunate accident? A souvenir of back ache? X-Rays take up space and people are reluctant to just put them in the rubbish, being rather personal. Now, a humanitarian charity is offering to take them off your hands as they get money for good causes by having old X-Rays put through an industrial process to extract silver salts for which they receive money. Pharmacie Humanitaire International is based at 191 rue de Reine Jeanne in Toulon and is open to the public on Mondays. The group is looking to expand and hopes to be able to accept other medical items such as bandages and wheelchairs that can be redistributed to the needy. Pharmacie Humanitaire International works both in France and in developing nations overseas. More information on the charity is available from the Nice or Var Matin newspapers.
The chairman of the US Federal Reserve has said that the economy will need support for “some time” and that the recovery remains “uneven and far from complete”. In testimony to Congress on Tuesday, Jerome Powell said that the Fed will continue to pursue policies to help America back to full employment. Mr Powell said that the central bank’s interest rate cuts and monthly purchases of 120 billion dollars of government bonds have “materially eased financial conditions and are providing substantial support to the economy”. He added that the situation is a long way from the Fed’s employment and inflation goals and that it’s likely to take some time for further progress to be achieved. Mr Powell concluded that the path of the economy continues to depend significantly on the course of the virus and the measures taken to control its spread. He’ll continue his testimony later today.
The tech heavy Nasdaq index in New York has fallen again after dropping by 2 and a half percent on Monday. Investors have been heavily selling mega-cap growth stocks on valuation concerns while keeping an eye on the words of Fed chairman Jerome Powell who’s been giving testimony to Congress. Shares in Netflix, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple all lost further ground as investors weighed up rising inflation and its impact on risk assets. The Nasdaq fell to its lowest level in more than a month following the opening bell and posted its biggest two day loss since early September. Seven of the eleven main S&P 500 sectors were trading in the red with consumer discretionary, tech and communication stocks among the top decliners.
A steep dive in the value of Bitcoin has hit the electric carmaker Tesla this week taking more than 10 billion dollars off the value of the firm. Earlier this month, the price of Bitcoin rocketed after Tesla’s Elon Musk said that the firm has bought one and a half billion dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. The falls came after Mr Musk conceded that Bitcoin was “rather overvalued”. His comments have seen his own personal fortune fall by 20 billion dollars and seen him removed from the dubious honor of being the richest person in the world. Bitcoin slumped in value by some 17.2 percent at one point on Tuesday and was trading at around 48,000 dollars. Tesla shares opened 7.3 percent lower with some analysts suggesting that Mr Musk’s investment in Bitcoin could now “backfire”.
Golf - Tiger Woods has undergone surgery after being taken to hospital following a serious car accident near Rolling Hills Estates in California on Tuesday. The 15-time Major winner suffered fractures to both legs with local officials saying that he’s “lucky to be alive”. Woods lost control of his vehicle on Hawthorne Boulevard in Los Angeles. Reports say that he drove over the central reservation before his vehicle hit a tree and rolled over several times. The Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Office said that the 45-year-old was conscious after the accident before he was taken to the Harbor UCLA Medical Center where he underwent surgery. The Sheriff’s Office said that he had not shown signs of being intoxicated.
Football - There were two rounds of 16 first leg Champions League ties last night. Chelsea beat Athletico Madrid 1-0 thanks to a spectacular overhead bicycle kick goal from Olivier Giroud while Lazio lost 4-1 at home to Bayern Munich. There are two more ties tonight. Borussia Monchengladbach play Manchester City and Atalanta play Real Madrid.
In the English Premier League last night Leeds United beat Southampton 3-0.
In the English Championship, the leaders Norwich were 3-1 winners at Birmingham. Derby beat Huddersfield 2-0. Bristol City were 3-1 winners at Middlesbrough. Luton and Millwall drew 1-1. Rotherham lost 1-0 at home to Nottingham Forest and Wycombe beat Reading 1-0.
Rugby Union - The organisers of the 6 Nations will decide today whether this weekend’s match between France and Scotland can go ahead owing to a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp. 10 France players and the coach have all come down with the virus and its likely the match will be postponed until a later date.
Formula 1 - Red Bull have unveiled their new car which they hope will allow them to mount a bigger title challenge this season. The team finished third in the constructors championship in 2020 but the car was affected by a number of reliability issues. The new RB16B adds further developments to last year’s model and the team has worked to iron out instability issues. Honda has also brought forward a new engine which has initially been planned for 2022.
Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperatures 18-19 degrees. Overnight lows of 9-11 degrees with clear skies.
Thursday and Friday - Clear skies with highs of 15-18 degrees.