Evening Update Tuesday 24 March 2020

There has been another fatality from Covid 19 in the Var. An 87 year old man died in Frejus this morning, reportedly at the Héliades health clinic.
After a change in legislation, municipal officials in France can now directly punish those breaching the confinement resrictions. Up until now, municipal police had been empowered to carry out control and prevention operations but hadn't been able to issue fines.

La Poste has announced that mail deliveries are going to be reduced because of the virus outbreak. Deliveries will be reduced to four days out of six this week and further reduced to three days out of six next week. Certain services carried out by La Poste such as delivering meals for the elderly will, however, be maintained. La Poste has reduced the number of open post offices to 27 in the Alpes Maritimes and 26 in the Var and reminds customers that many services are available remotely via telephone and the internet and that visits to the post office should only be made if strictly necessary.

The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has announced that nearly 675 municipal agents working in direct contact or potential contact with the public will be equipped with protective masks. He said that this measure had been made possible thanks to the stocks of masks built up in advance by the Cannes City Council as part of its risk prevention policy.

Alpes-Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti has called for mororway tolls to be made free of charge for nursing workers and those who are enforcing the confinement measures. He called on motorway operators to make what he called "this gesture of national solidarity".

Paramedics in Nice and Menton are calling for urgent donations of medical equipment as they say their own stocks are running low. They are asking for FFP2 masks and surgical masks as well as items such as gloves, alcohol-gels, goggles, gowns and protective headwear. If you or someone you know is able to help, call 04.93.52.62.49 to reach the paramedics in Menton and to contact the paramedics in Nice call 09.60.51.43.55.

A new website has been launched by the French government for those who wish to volunteer to help others in the crisis, despite the confinement restrictions. The website at jeveuxaider.gouv.fr allows volunteers to offer their help to the most disadvantaged and most vulnerable members of society. The initiative was announced by the Secretary of State for Youth Gabriel Attal this morning.

SOS Médecins in Frejus are planning to do remote consultations over the internet. They're using WhatsApp to carry out teleconsultations from 9am to 10pm. you can get more details on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SOSMEDECINSFREJUS

A drone has been flying above some of the region's ski resorts this morning. The drone, operated by members of the local gendarmerie, flew above Isola2000 and Auron encouraging people to observe the confinement restrictions.

The government has said that 70,000 French people are still stranded abroad. The authorities estimate that it will take a week to repatriate them all.


BUSINESS


There's been a sharp contraction in business activity in the UK and the Eurozone as a result of the pandemic, according to a widely watched survey. The initial IHS/Markit survey of purchasing managers in the UK showed a figure of 35.7 in March, which is the lowest recorded since the survey began in 1996. A figure below 50 indicates contraction and above 50 indicates economic expansion. A similar survey of purchasing managers in the Eurozone showed a figure of 31.4. Last month's figure was 51.6.

The Bank of England has said that it beilieves UK banks are strong enough to withstand the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The Bank said that the virus should have less impact on the core banking system than recent stress tests run by the Bank have shown the system can withstand. In its assessment, the Bank said it was assuming the disruption from Covid-19 would likely be more severe but less long-lasting than scenarios envisaged in the stress test.

Reports say that Ineos, the chemicals company controlled by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is planning to build two hand sanitiser factories in just 10 days as part of the effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The company aims to produce a million bottles of hand sanitiser a month.

Work has been suspended on all Transport for London project sites. That includes the massive London Crossrail project. Mike Brown, London's Transport Commissioner said that safety and maintainance work would still continue.

Car manufacturers are answering calls from governments to help make more ventilators and face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday Fiat began converting one of its car plants in China to start making about one million masks a month. General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Tesla have all pledged their support to offer resources to make more ventilators. UK Formula 1 teams have also offered their help.


SPORT


The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The event, which was due to begin on 24 July, will now take place "no later than summer 2021". It's the first time the modern  Olympics have been delayed in their 124-year history, although they were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars.

The Rugby Union Champions Cup and Challenge Cup semi-finals and finals have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The finals of both competitions had been due to take place from 22-23 May in Marseille. European rugby organisers say that they remain committed to completing the campaigns this season.

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