Evening Update Friday 17 July 2020

The A50 motorway, which links Toulon to Marseille, was closed to traffic this morning after a serious accident. Two vehicles collided with the toll booths at La Ciotat in the direction of Toulon at about 10.45am. Two people were seriously injured, with another five suffering lesser injuries. About sixty firefighters backed up by two helicopters and around twenty emergency vehicles were on the scene. The motorway re-opened to traffic at about 12.45.

Data from the French Ministry of Health shows that the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region has one of the highest rates of reproduction of the coronavirus in France. The so-called "R-number" stood at 1.55 on 14 July and has therefore risen to slightly above the "alert threshold" of 1.5. New cases of the virus have particluarly risen in parts of Marseille in recent days. The PACA region has the second highest R-number in mainland France, with only Brittany being greater, at 2.62. However, the Ministry of health has said that the R-number is particularly sensitive to new cases when the overall number of cases is low, as is the case at the moment in the PACA region, and a sharp rise in the number may occur without indicating a resumption of intense circulation of the virus.

The city of Nice has imposed a beach ban from 10pm tonight and for the nights of Saturday and Sunday. The move is in response to complaints of noise, drug taking and drinking. Police have been instructed to enforce the measure vigorously and issue fines to offenders.

Three people have been rescued from a boat off Bandol in the Var. The eight metre sailboat was drifting in heavy seas with a torn sail, no engine power and a leak. A helicopter and rescue boat were dispatched and the boat was towed into port in an operation which lasted a total of seven hours.

A fuitive who was given a 20 year sentence by a court in Toulon has been detained in Spain. 34 year old Jerome Conforto was arrested in 2015 near Toulon while transporting several hundred kilograms of cannabis resin. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but fled whilst released under judicial supervision. Spanish police detained him at a cafe on the outskirts of Malaga under a European arrest warrant.

The French version of the Red Arrows flew over the Pasteur 2 hospital in Nice this afternoon as a mark of respect to health workers. The Patrouille de France planes also flew over hospitals in Toulon and Marseilles.

President Macron and other EU leaders are meeting to attempt to resolve their differences regarding a €750bn post-Covid stimulus package. It's the first time the leaders have attended a face to face meeting since the beginning of the pandemic. President Macron said it was a "moment of truth" for Europe and the next hours would be decisive. The main area of disagreement is how much of the recovery fund will be handed out in grants and how much in loans. The leaders also need to agree a seven-year budget worth an additional €1.07 trillion.


BUSINESS

British Airways has said it will retire all of its Boeing 747s with immediate effect. BA has 31 of the planes and the company said it is unlikely they will ever fly commercially for the airline again due to the downturn in travel caused by the pandemic. BA's retirement of the planes had previously been planned to take place in 2024.

Inflation in the Eurozone stood at just 0.3% in June, up slightly from May's figure of 0.1%. According to  EU statistics body Eurostat energy prices were 9.3% lower in June than a year ago and unprocessed food was up by 6%.

A UK electric vehicle battery business has announced plans to build a factory in Wales. Start-up Britishvolt has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Welsh government and aims to build the factory at Bro Tathan a few miles from Cardiff airport.


SPORT

Motorsports... Second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix has been underway this afternoon in wet conditions. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was the fastest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Carlos Sainz was third fastest, ahead of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. Lewis Hamilton didn't set a lap time but was fastest in first practice this morning with Valtteri Bottas in second and Sergio Perez third.

Cricket... It's day two of the 2nd Test, England against the West Indies, at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester. Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes have both scored centuries for England. West Indies curently lead the three-Test series 1-0.

UK Sports.. The British Prime Minister has said that spectators may be able to return to sports stadiums from October. He said that "these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome" of pilot programmes which will get underway at the beginning of August.

Rugby Union... Maro Itoje has signed a new long-term contract at Saracens. The England lock said that he was looking forward to the future and said "the future is going to be brighter than our past".  The club will be relegated from the Premiership at the end of this season because of salary cap breaches.

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