Evening Update Tuesday 14 July 2020

President Macron has said that he is in favour of making the wearing of masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces. Regarding the timing of possible measures, the president said "for example, August 1". Speaking in a television interview this lunchtime, he said "we have stemmed the virus and returned to an almost normal situation" but he added that indicators were showing the virus "still starting up a little". He said that barrier gestures must still continue to be applied and he recommended that a mask be worn when outside "all the time". Speaking about the French economy, he said that he expects "a massive increase" in unemployment in the coming months. The President also announced an "exceptional exemption from charges" to encourage the hiring of young people, particularly low-skilled workers and those earning "up to 1.6 times the minimum wage".

Tributes are being paid throughout the day to the victims of the Nice terrorist attacks of 14 July 2016. 120 relatives of the victims attended a ceremony in the gardens of the Villa Massena this morning. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi spoke at the ceremony and it was announced that the final memorial to the victims will be inaugurated on 14 July next year. Several events are also being planned for this evening. A private ceremony will take place at the Centennial monument. A concert is also being held on the Promenade du Paillon at 9pm, but numbers will be restricted to 112 people. 86 beams of light, one for each of the victims, will be shone into the sky from the Promenade des Anglais starting at just after 10.30 this evening.

In Paris, a low-key Bastille Day ceremony has taken place due to coronavirus restrictions. Normally, about 4,000 military personnel take part in a parade but this year only about 2,000 people were present at a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde. However, an air display similar to previous years has taken place featuring about fifty military planes and twenty helicopters. The ceremony began with a tribute for former President Charles de Gaulle to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his famous call to resistance made from London. An air display forming part of the tribute featured two Typhoon aircraft from the Royal Air Force. A tribute was also paid to caregivers.

Christian Estrosi has said that a maximum limit of 2,500 people will be applied to any public event in the municipality. The move comes after controversy surrounding a concert by French music producer The Avener on the Quai des Etats-Unis at the weekend when barrier measures were not observed by many in the large crowd. The town hall said that the 2,500 person limit will be included in the municipal decree authorising each event.

Police are asking for information about a missing person. Romain Moura, who lives in Saint-Raphael, didn't turn up at work on Sunday at the Saint-Aygulf nautical area where he is a ski instructor. Anyone with information is asked to call the police in Frejus on 04 94 51 90 00.

A stolen artwork attributed to the British artist Banksy has been officially returned to France by the Italian government today. The drawing on an exit door of the Bataclan in Paris was stolen in January last year and was later found on a farm in Italy. The work will now go on display at the building which houses the French Embassy in Rome.

 

BUSINESS

The UK economy grew by 1.8% in May from the previous month, which was less than the 5.5% forecast by economists. The Office for National Statistics said the UK economy was "in the doldrums" and said that the economy was 24.5% smaller in May than it was in February. The construction sector and manufacturing output both grew by just over 8% in May but were still well below their pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that the UK economy is on course to shrink by 12.4% in 2020, which would be the biggest economic decline in 300 years. The OBR also estimated that in it's "central scenario" of economic recovery, UK unemployment would be almost 12% by the end of this year and would still be above pre-pandemic levels in 2025. The OBR also forecast that the UK's national debt is likely to rise above 100% of GDP for the first time since the 1960's.

Virgin Atlantic has finalised a rescue deal worth £1.2bn. The package includes support from its main shareholder, Virgin Group, and loans from outside investors. It also includes deferring hundreds of millions of pounds owed both to Virgin Group and to fellow shareholder Delta Air Lines. Cost cutting measures are also being put in place including about 3,500 job cuts. Virgin Atlantic said the plan paved the way for the airline to return to profitability in 2022.

Online grocer Ocado has announced an increase in  sales of 27% in the first half of 2020. It said that the switch to internet shopping in the pandemic has led to a "permanent redrawing" of the retail landscape. Ocado's chief executive Tim Steiner said that "the world as we know it has changed" and years of growth in the online grocery market had been "condensed into a matter of months".


SPORT

Golf.... The remainder of the 2019-20 PGA Tour will take place behind closed doors. The remaining nine tournaments released co-ordinated statements saying that spectators would not be allowed. The Tour will end in Atlanta from 4-7 September.

Motorsports... It's been announced that British Formula E driver Sam Bird will be joining the Jaguar team from next season. He's currently with Envision Virgin Racing. Bird said he was "very proud to be driving for an iconic British brand". There are still six Formula E races left this season, taking place over nine days in August at the Berlin Tempelhof circuit in Germany.

Rugby Union... Fifteen players have signed new "long-term" deals with Wasps. they include Joe Launchbury, Brad Shields and Dan Robson. Italy's Matteo Minozzi has also extended his contract, as have Jacob Umaga and Zach Kibirige.

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