Evening Update Thursday 27 August 2020

It's been announced that health measures surrounding the Tour de France are being increased. In a press conference this afternoon, the Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes Bernard Gonzalez said that the start of the Tour in Nice will be "almost behind closed doors". He said that the presentation of the riders in the Place Massena this evening will be scaled back to 1,000 people. Masks will be mandatory for spectators along the route and spectators will only be able to get into the main passes on foot or by bicycle and no parking of cars will be permitted. Events organised by the municipalities on the route are also reportedly being cancelled. The Prefect said it would be better to watch the Tour on television rather than being there in person. The changes come after the Alpes Maritimes and Var were placed in the coronavirus Red Zone.

Twenty one French departments, including the Alpes Maritimes and the Var, are now in the coronavirus "Red Zone". During a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the coronavirus "is regaining ground" on French territory.  It was announced this morning that nineteen departments were being added to the Red Zone list in addition to Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone, which were already classified as red. The Prime Minister said that the decision to add the new departments was taken because the number of cases had exceeded the threshold of 50 per 100,000. He said that "there has been a form of slackening in recent weeks which may explain the figures".

The Prime Minister specifically addressed the question of whether it is safe to hold the Tour de France in these circumstances. The Tour begins in Nice this weekend. He appealed to everbody's sense of responsibility in the wearing of masks and physical distancing and reminded people that it is an open air event. He said that there are "prescriptions and controls" in place to avoid massive gatherings of the population. He added that "the Tour de France must be a sign that we can continue to live".

The Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, said at this morning's press conference that as regards a vaccine, he hoped that "we will have some very serious leads" by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has said that the wearing of masks will become compulsory in Paris. Early this evening it was announced that the measure will come into effect at 8am tomorrow morning.

An increased number of gendarmes will be present on public transport in the Alpes Maritimes from the beginning of next week. The aim of the patrols will be to prevent any public order issues from arising and to control the wearing of masks.

A woman has died in a jet-ski accident in the Var. The 38 year old was brought back to the shore at Six-Fours-les-Plages but couldn't be revived.

Horse racing could be held on the beach in Cannes next year. City Racing, which plans to run horse races in famous urban locations, told the BBC that a fixture in the spring of 2021 has been backed by governing body France Galop. Under the plans, a special racing surface would be laid on the beach, with the finish line near the Palais des Festivals.

 

BUSINESS

Jet engine maker Rolls-Royce has announced a pre-tax loss of £5.4bn for the first half of this year. It had previously announced the loss of 3,000 jobs in the UK. Speaking to the BBC, Warren East, the company's Chief Executive, said that he didn't  expect demand to recover to late-2019 levels for five years.

WPP, the world's largest advertising agency, has reported a loss of 2.6 billion pounds in the first half of this year. However, the loss was better than market expectations. The company said that revenue in the United States in the second quarter was down by 9.6% but in the UK it was down by 23%. WPP has reduced its workforce by 5,000 employees in the first six months of this year.

The chief executive of internet video sharing company TikTok is leaving the business after just two months. In a letter to employees he said that "the political environment has sharply changed" in the last few weeks. President Trump has ordered that TikTok's parent company sell the business to an American company because of national security concerns.

 

SPORT

Cricket... Jason Roy has been ruled out of the T20 series with Pakistan after sustaining an injury during training. The three-match series gets underway at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Football.. The manager of the French team, Didier Deschamps, has said that Paul Pogba has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Manchester United player has gone into 14 day quarantine and will miss France's Nations League game in Sweden on 5 September and the match against Croatia on 8 September.

Tennis.. Play at the Western & Southern Open in New York has been suspended today as a protest against racial injustice. The US Tennis Association, ATP and WTA said that "tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice". The women and mens semi-finals which were due to take place today have been rescheduled to tomorrow. Several other sports, including basketball and baseball, are staging similar protests after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kinosha, Wisconsin.

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