Evening Update Friday 11 September 2020

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has been giving a television address after today's Defence Council meeting, but has not announced any major new restrictions. Speaking this evening he said that the virus is "circulating more and more in France" and "we are seeing a significant increase in people hospitalized". He confirmed that the period of isolation has been reduced to seven days. He announced that 42 departments are now classified as "red". 2,000 people will be recruited to assist in tracking contact cases. He said that for priority people, such as health workers, the government is going to strengthen dedicated screening. The Prime Minister also said that he is asking the prefects of Marseille, Bordeaux and Guadeloupe to make proposals to him by Monday for what he called "additional measures". He said that the virus will be with us "for a few more months" and we must deal with it without being drawn back into generalised confinement. He said that the simplest and least restrictive solution is to continue scrupilously applying barrier gestures. He added that we must "absolutely respect the rules of physical distancing, wash our hands regularly" and must wear a mask.

The Swiss government has placed the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region on a list of regions classified as high-risk for the coronavirus. Eight other French regions have also been included on the list. The new measures announced earlier today mean that people travelling to Switzerland from the named regions will have to quarantine for ten days. Swiss authorities said the decision had been taken because coronavirus levels in those areas have been in excess of 60 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for 14 days.

The Mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet has criticized the decision of the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes to impose the compulsory wearing of masks in the town. Lionel Luca reportedly called the decision "arbitrary, disproportionate and discriminatory". The Prefecture made the announcement yesterday that mask wearing would be compulsory in eighteen municipalities in the department.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has said that the annual European Heritage Days won't take place in Nice this year. The event, which sees the opening of many public buildings to the public, was scheduled to take place next weekend, the 19 and 20 September.

In Paris, the Police Prefect has banned Yellow Vest protests due to take place in the French capital this weekend. The gatherings this evening and tomorrow, were prohibited on public order grounds.

 

BUSINESS

The UK has signed a trade deal with Japan. It's the UK's first major post-Brexit trade deal but still needs approval by Japan's parliament.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK economy grew by 6.6% in July. However, the economy is still 11.7% smaller than it was in February before the pandemic began. The ONS said that the UK economy "has still only recovered just over half of the lost output caused by the coronavirus".

Heathrow Airport has released it's passenger numbers for August, usually one of it's busiest months. Last month passenger demand fell by 81.5% compared to August 2019. North American passenger numbers were down by 95% compared to last August. Heathrow's management have repeatedly called for changes in the UK's quarantine restictions, saying that the restrictions are damaging the economy.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... it's been announced that Australia will host the 2020 Rugby Championship. New Zealand will take part as will Argentina, despite many cases of covid-19 being detected in the Argentinian team in recent weeks. However, it's not yet been confirmed if South Africa will take part as international sporting competitions are currently suspended in South Africa. The tournament is scheduled to begin on 7 November after being postponed from August and September.

Motorsports....  The Tuscan Grand Prix in Italy is taking place this Sunday. Valtteri Bottas was fastest in first practice today. Max Verstappen was second and Charles Leclerc was third. In second practice this afternoon Valtteri Bottas was fastest once again, with Lewis Hamilton in second and Max Verstappen in third. Qualifying is at 3pm tomorrow and the race is at 3.10pm on Sunday.

Football... The English Premier League starts behind closed doors tomorrow. On Saturday Fulham play Arsenal. Crystal Palace play Southampton. Liverpool play Leeds and West Ham play Newcastle. On Sunday West Brom host Leicester and Spurs play Everton. Sheffield United play Wolves and Brighton host Chelsea on Monday.

Cricket... The first one day international between England and Australia is being played at Old Trafford today.

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