Lunchtime News Friday 29th January 2021


Weather warning - Corsica and the Var have been placed on an orange weather alert due to strong winds and high waves. According to forecasts from Meteo France storm Justine, is expected later today and into Saturday with gusts of up to 120 and 140 km an hour in Corsica. For the time being, it’s too early to say if the weather warning will be extended to other areas in the region.

Kidnapping of French Riviera hotel heiress - 52-year-old Philip Dutton a former British soldier from Liverpool has been sentenced to 14 years in jail for his involvement in the kidnapping of French Riviera hotel heiress Jacqueline Veyrac. Dutton was one of 13 men involved in the plot in which Jacqueline Veyrac was snatched off the street outside her home in 2013 and held in a van for 48 hours. He was the only one of those charged to admit his involvement in the kidnapping. He had written a €5 million ransom demand, intending to keep 10% of it, but the demand never reached the Veyrac family. Meanwhile 67-year-old Giuseppe Serena, an Italian restaurant manager who masterminded the abduction, was sentenced to 18 years.

The court in Nice heard that Giuseppe, a former manager at La Reserve restaurant in Nice that is also owned by Veyrac, held a bitter grudge against her for terminating his contract in 2009.

French economy - The French economy has suffered a massive recession in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, with a drop in gross domestic product (GDP) of 8.3%, according to a first estimate published today by INSEE. After growth of 1.5% in 2019, one of the most important in the euro zone, the year 2020 is a record recession for France since World War II.

Despite all the economic difficulties the decline in growth is not as bad as what INSEE had anticipated: the institute in fact predicted a plunge in GDP of around 9%, but the French economy has withstood better during the second confinement with the loss of activity being "much more moderate than that observed during the first confinement of March-May 2020.”

New measures will be subject to a vote – Meanwhile according to several politicians who participated in meetings with France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday 28th January. The new measures expected to curb the Covid-19 epidemic will be the subject of a debate and a vote in the Assembly and the Senate next week. French President Emmanuel Macron could announce these measures on Sunday or Monday.

So, what is being considered by the government? - So what will the new measures be? As the government is working on several scenarios it would appear that the hesitation is between two options: a "tight" lockdown which would be similar to that of March or a "hybrid" lockdown which would leave a little more freedom as in November.

But in both cases, the Head of State intends to preserve as much as possible commercial activity by finding a balance. According to reports the president does not want to "pick up on the debate on what is essential and what is not ".

The idea would be to allow all businesses to remain open but within a specific framework which remains to be determined, as it is emphasized that small shops are not places of contamination. Especially since the sales are still in progress and end on February 16th.

The idea would be to allow an opening of only a few hours a day in the morning or in the afternoon from 10 am to 1 pm or from 2 pm to 6 pm for example. Enough to maintain activity while avoiding constant customer flows. Many traders are arguing for a solution of this type which can be combined with other services such as appointments and click and collect.

This time, the opening would be maintained with standard hours but the number of customers who can enter the shops would be severely reduced. The problem with this solution is the implementation: once again, a protocol will have to be put in place depending on the size of the store, the number of employees and ventilation. As during the first lockdown, the obligatory appointment making in store or the click and collect could be generalized to all the businesses that can set it up. This would make it possible to visit a business every half hour with 5, 10 or 15 customers depending on the size of the store. This approach could even be adapted to supermarkets.

Domestic and sexual violence increased in 2020 - According to an assessment by the Ministry of Interior delinquency fell in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. However domestic and sexual violence, including rape, continued to increase.


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