Evening Update Wednesday 26 August 2020

French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, announced this afternoon that masks will be mandatory for all adults in schools and for all students from the sixth year. The minister said that some exceptions to this rule had been considered, for example for kindergarten teachers, but it was decided to have no exceptions so that the rule is completely clear and simple. Meanwhile, the Var department has announced this afternoon that the department will provide masks free of charge to all schoolchildren who do not have a mask.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that the government's economic stimulus package will be announced next Thursday, 3 September. The plan was due to be unveiled yesterday but in an interview this morning the Prime Minister said that the plan, worth 100 billion euros, was complete. He said that the 100 billion euros would include an amount of 2 billion euros to benefit the French cultural sector. Members of the entertainment industry are due to meet the Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot for discussions tomorrow. He also said that it will no longer be possible for prefects to opt out of the ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in areas where the virus is circulating strongly. He added that the 5,000 person limit may be lowered by the government, up to and including a complted ban on large gatherings.

French statistics agency INSEE has published the latest figures from its Monthly consumer confidence survey today. In August, households’ confidence in the economic situation was stable -  the  index remains at 94, below its long-term average of 100. The figure for August was the same as July but less than the 96 recorded in June just after deconfinement.

In new figures released today, the  French government employment agency has said that just over 6.1 million people are currently looking for work. Job seekers in Category A, in other words unemployed people actively looking for a job, fell by 4.1 % in July. However, the organization said that, as in the previous two months, the fall in Category A unemployed was mainly explained by people moving to a "reduced activity" category, meaning that Category B and C unemployed rose during the month.

SNCF have announced an extension to their train ticket change and refund policy. The policy was brought into effect at the start of the pandemic and allows exchanges or refunds free of charge on TGV, Inter-City and connecting TER services. If the new ticket is more expensive than the original, the ticket holder will still have to pay the difference in price. The policy was due to finish at the end of this month but will now be in operation until 1 November.

Access to the Gorges de Verdun by water from the lac de Sainte-Croix has been closed today because of high winds in the area. However, the Verdon park is still accessible by road.

 

BUSINESS

The German government has annnounced a one year extension to extend a scheme that tops up pay for workers affected by the pandemic. Short-time work subsidies had been due to expire in March 2021, but have now been extended until the end of next year. The move comes after the German economy contracted by a record 9.7% in the April-to-June quarter.

A new report estimates that the UK economy may loose 22 billion pounds in spending because of the fall in tourism. The reports from the World Travel and Tourism Council says that up to 3 million jobs could be at risk in the UK as a result of reduced tourism.

UK DIY retailer Screwfix is to open 30 new stores in the UK and 10 in Ireland. It currently operates 680 UK stores and 5 in Ireland. About 400 new jobs are expected to be created.

Oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico have shut down many of their facilities as the region braces itself for a hurricane. Hurricane Laura is due to hit the coast of Texas and Louisiana late today or early tomorrow.


SPORT

Football... Jamie Vardy has agreed a contract extension with Leicester City. His current deal with the club was due to expire in two years time but his contract has now been extended until 2023. Vardy was the Premiership's top goal scorer last season.

Athletics... Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt has tested positive for the coronavirus. He attended a birthday party in Jamaica last week and took a test on Saturday since which he's been in quarantine but doesn't have any symptoms. Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the circumstances surrounding the gathering are being investigated.

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