Evening Update Tuesday 8 September 2020

The Prefect of the Var has announced new measures aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus. All restaurants and bars in the department will be required to close at 1am as of tomorrow, September 9. In addition, the general requirement to wear a mask is being brought into force in six further municipalities - in Ramatuelle, Grimaud, Cavalaire, Sainte-Maxime, Le Plan-de-la-Tour and Le Rayol-Cana-del. The Prefect also renewed the obligation to wear a mask in Toulon and Saint-Tropez.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for Covid-19. He said he's leaving the Tour for eight days and is asymptomatic. The latest tests on all the current riders in the Tour have been negative but a member of team management has tested positive in four of the teams. All teams are still able to race because no team has more than one positive test amongst its staff.

The Elysees has said that a government meeting tomorrow may take place by videoconference because Prime Minister Jean Castex had been in prolonged contact with Christian Prudhomme. Reports say that the Prime Minister will have a Covid-19 test today.

President Macron said today that new measures relating to the coronavirus will be discussed at a defence council meeting scheduled for this Friday. He called on people not to "relax in moments of private life because it is often in private parties, in family moments, that contamination occurs".

Olivier Veran, the French Minister of Solidarity and Health, has said that the Scientific Council has given a favourable opinion regarding the shortening of the quarantine period in certain circumstances from 14 to 7 days for people who test positive for the coronavirus and their contacts. He said that a formal decision would be taken at the defence council meeting on Friday. In an interview earlier today the Minister called for a prioritization in coronavirus testing. He said that a person who is showing symptoms and contact cases must be tested as a matter of urgency. He added that laboratories are working at maximum capacity and, overall, 86% of test results are being given within 36 hours of a test taking place. He said that he's currently waiting for the results of experiments to establish if saliva tests can be used to detect positive cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, a French medical union has warned of the strain being experienced by testing laboratories and their staff. Over one million tests are being performed by laboratories in France every week. The Union of Young Medical Biologists has said today that laboratories are saturated and that there are "endless queues, a shortage of reagents, personnel in burn-out, verbal and physical attacks". The union is calling for a change in the policy of PCR tests being free and available without a prescription. It calls for the targetting of people who are showing symptoms, contacts and asymptomatic at-risk people.

French statistics agency INSEE has said that it expects the unemployment rate to be about 9.5% of the active population at the end of this year. That would represent an increase of 1.4% on the same period in 2019.

In local news, it's been confirmed that the Mouans-Sartoux book festival will go ahead next month. Organizers said they have received authorization for the festival after arrangements were scrutinised by several public bodies including the Regional Health Agency. The festival will take place outdoors in the town on October 2, 3 and 4 and will be subject to a strict health protocol.

Meteo France have a Yellow warning for storms in the Var from about 3am to at least 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday.

 

BUSINESS

EasyJet has said that customer confidence to make travel plans has been negatively affected by "constantly evolving government restrictions across Europe" and quarantine measures in the UK. It now expects to fly slightly less than the 40% of planned capacity for the fourth quarter of this year. The airline said that the reduction is the result of continued "schedule thinning" as it continues to "focus on profitable flying".

New figures show that South Africa's GDP fell by 51% in the second quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter. It was down 17.1% compared to the same period last year. It's the fourth quarter in a row that the country's economy has contracted.

In the UK, HM Revenue and Customs has said that it estimates that 5-10% of furlough payouts have been wrongly awarded. Speaking to MPs today, HMRC's permanent secretary, Jim Harra, said that the wrongly awarded payouts range from deliberate fraud through to error. Latest data shows the programme has cost the UK government £35.4bn so far.

 

SPORT

Tour de France..Stage 10 today has been won by Ireland's Sam Bennett.

Tennis... Ashleigh Barty has announced that she won't be taking part in the French Open because of the pandemic. The world number one would have been defending her French Open title, having won the tournament last year. She said the decision to pull out hadn't been made lightly.

Meanwhile, organisers of the French Open have said that spectators will be allowed at the event despite the growing number of coronavirus cases. Health protocols will be put in place. The tournament gets underway at Roland Garros in Paris on September 27th after being postponed from May.

Olympics... Japan's Olympic minister has said that next year's Tokyo Games must be held "at any cost". Yesterday the International Olympic Committee said the event will go ahead "with or without Covid". The Games, which had been due to start in July, were postponed for a year.

Football... England player Mason Greenwood has apologised for breaching coronavirus quarantine guidelines. He said that in particular he wanted to apologise to team manager Gareth Southgate "for letting him down".

Cricket... England play Australia in the third T20 international in Southampton later today. Play starts at 7pm our time. England have an unassailable 2-0  lead in the series.

 

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