French and Riviera News Friday 15th May 2020

Schools reopening - At least 150,000 schoolchildren are expected to return to school next week in France in those areas classified as green. 4,000 colleges will reopen for 6eme and 5eme students.

In France, there are 1.6 million middle school students in grades 6 and 5, red and green areas combined.

The reopening for students of 4eme and 3eme in colleges located in the red zones and of the lycées in France, are to wait until the end of May for a decision to be confirmed.

In Corsica, where only 1.6% of schoolchildren returned on Tuesday, no secondary school or high school will reopen before the start of the school year in September.

Beaches reopening - Finistère, Côtes-d'Armor, Vendée and Loire-Atlantique have already reopened some of their beaches this week with the north and the Atlantic Pyrenees following on Saturday.

In Gironde, where  many mayors have submitted files, no official decision has yet been taken. But according to the regional prefecture, we are moving towards a reopening on Saturday "unless there is a last-minute problem".

For the Var, the Alpes-Maritimes and Corsica, no official decision has been announced after it was suggested that it would be at the weekend.

Prefect of the PACA region to replace Serge Telle as Minister of State in Monaco - It’s been reported that Pierre Dartout will be the next head of government in Monaco. The prefect of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region will replace Serge Telle, who has been in office since 2016, in early September.

The prefect Dartout should take office in early September, as reports say that the Elysee wished him to remain at the head of the prefecture of the PACA Region and of the Bouches-du-Rhône during the critical period of deconfinement.

Pierre Dartout is a graduate of IEP Paris and a former student of Ena. He was prefect of several departments and also director of cabinet to the President of the National Assembly.

Coronavirus - Nine people have died of coronavirus in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in the last 24 hours. The number of deaths from the virus for the PACA region stands at 824 since the start of the crisis.

143 people are still in intensive care. 46 new cases were identified within 24 hours. 16,107 people have been infected with coronavirus in the PACA since February 28.

Monte-Carlo Ballet - The international dance company has announced today that all the dancers and staff at the Monte Carlo Ballet have been tested for Covid-19
The screening, carried out on Wednesday by the Monaco Red Cross, will "allow to put back in place, in the best possible conditions, an artistic activity within the structure and allow the dancers of the company, to resume safely said the statement.

Adding that "this recovery will be closely monitored by their health teams, to avoid any injuries due to reduced and prolonged activity during confinement,"
The company, has around fifty dancers and has been directed since 1992 by choreographer Jean. -Christophe Maillot.

Injury is one of the risks faced by ballet dancers, who are used to rigorous daily training and who have had to limit themselves to exercises in their apartments.

The Monaco-based dance company, where deconfinement began on May 4, is one of the first in Europe to begin preparing for a return after at least two months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

France’s Minister of Economy rules out reinstating wealth tax and any tax increases - Speaking to French media on Thursday France’s minister of the economy Bruno Le Maire, declared that "the French economy is slowly recovering".

The minister who has completely ruled out the reinstatement of wealth tax and any tax increase, added that while "It is easy to re-establish the wealth tax and would no doubt make him popular, a 'tax on the rich' does not work. Adding that “the past shows that it didn't improve prosperity”.

Le Maire concluded that "The restart is gradual, and he prefers to do it in stages. This is "a violent, lasting crisis, on businesses for years, not months,"

Rescue plan for tourism sector - The French government  launched an 18-billion-euro rescue plan for the tourism sector on Thursday, which has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis.

Tourism accounts for about 7 percent of France's €2.3 trillion economy and makes it the most visited country in the world, according to government data.

The Prime Minister announced that cafes and restaurants could be allowed to re-open from 2nd June in green zones where the Covid-19risk is low. The decision will be made on 25 May.

Summer holidays in July and August in mainland France were also given the green light as long as Covid-19 remains under control.

Travel between France and Spain - Travel between France and Spain could be compromised in the coming weeks. As Paris intends to apply to Spanish travellers quarantine measures. Negotiations are currently taking place with Madrid as Spain, announced on Tuesday that it would strictly limit entry to its territory and impose a quarantine (of ten days) on people entering, in order to avoid the spread of new cases of coronavirus.

The quarantine will not apply to border workers or several other cases of travel between the two countries, said the Elysee. Before adding that “almost all borders within the European area (Schengen area, European Union and United Kingdom) are subject to restrictions, but the objective is to reopen the borders, around June 15th depending on the health situation”.

Complaints filed against French officials for handing of health crisis - 63 complaints have been filed in France against officials, from families who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus and are questioning the government's legal responsibility in court.

The complaints filed against Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Health Minister Olivier Véran, are for failure to protect the public targeting the government's handling of Covid-19, amid criticism that it failed to deliver sufficient personal protective equipment to frontline health workers.

Other charges being filed before France's Court of Justice include manslaughter, failing to assist a person in danger, and failing to take timely action to contain the epidemic.

Sanofi - The French government has criticised the announcement by Sanofi that the first vaccines against Covid-19 would be sold to the United States. In response the French pharmaceutical company said Europe should follow the US example by increasing its financial support. 

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was shocked by the suggestion that the US would have priority over other countries to receive a future vaccine developed by Sanofi.

In a statement released by the Elysée Palace on Thursday, he insisted that "the vaccine for Covid-19 be exempt from normal market competition."

The reaction came after a statement by Sanofi's British CEO, Paul Hudson saying that if the company was successful in finding a vaccine, it would supply the US government first because "it's invested in taking the risk".

Elected officials in the Grand Est complain about the use of the colour red - Elected officials from the Great Est region of France, which has been particularly affected by coronavirus, have complained about the use of the colour “red” to designate the most affected areas in France.

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, the mayor of Strasbourg, has asked for the colour to be withdrawn saying it damages the image and attractiveness of our city".

1Safe in Italy reports those violating measures in place - A new app has been introduced across the border in Italy to stop people from violating measures in place against the spread of Covid-19. The free 1Safe application allows Italians to report security incidents to local police directly from their smartphone.

The reports arrive instantly on the computers of the municipal police. You just need to access their location to know where to send the nearest patrol. "It helps us a lot," says its commander. With the application, the 30 agents are alerted in real time. According to a poll, 72% of Italians approve of the app.

Business

The head of the World Trade Organisation has said that he will step down a year earlier than planned.

The surprise departure of Roberto Azevedo comes at a crucial time for the global economy and as the WTO faces the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and increased criticism from Donald Trump.

Global trade has slumped since the virus took hold and the world is braced for its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Mr Azevedo said that his early departure was a “personal decision” and was in the best interests of the organisation.

He said that the World Trade Organisation may not be perfect but it is what keeps us from a world where “the law of the jungle prevails” at least as far as trade is concerned.

The Trump administration has repeatedly accused the WTO of straying from its purpose to liberalise and protect markets and that the conditions around allowing China into the club in 2001 have cost millions of American jobs.

 

The number of Americans filing for unemployment rose by nearly 3 million last week as coronavirus shutdowns continue to hit the US economy.

More than 36 million people have filed for unemployment since the middle of March  amounting to nearly a quarter of the US workforce.

The weekly figures have been falling but still remain massive and is the worst crisis the job market has seen since the Great Depression.

Earlier this week ,the chair of the US Federal Reserve warned that the economic recovery is likely to be slower than initially hoped.

There have also been warnings that America will face its “darkest winter ever” unless authorities get to grips with the virus.

Rick Bright ,who led the US government department trying to develop a vaccine before he was sacked by Donald Trump ,told Congress on Thursday that “lives were being lost because of government inaction” in the early stages of the pandemic.

President Trump says that Mr Bright is a “disgruntled” ex-employee.

 

And-Lloyds of London says that it expects coronavirus-related claims to cost it between 3 and 4.3 billion dollars.

That would represent the biggest payout since the 9/11 attacks in the US and losses could rise further if lockdown restrictions continue into the second quarter.

Insurers around the world have been hit by the cost of the pandemic although many would-be claimants have found that their policies don’t cover the virus.

Lloyds says that its payout on coronavirus claims would also equal the combined impact of Hurricanes Harvey ,Irma and Maria in 2017.

Sport

Football-The British government has opened the door for the return of the game in England in June.

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says that a meeting with the Football Association ,Premier League and English Football League had “progressed well”.

The Premier League hopes for a return to action on the 12th of June with matches played behind closed doors.

Formula 1-Carlos Sainz will team up with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari next season with his seat at McLaren taken by Daniel Ricciardo.

The moves were confirmed on Thursday after days of speculation following Sebastian Vettel’s announcement that he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season.

Ricciardo’s move to McLaren leaves a vacant seat at Renault with some reports suggesting that Fernando Alonso could make a return to the team where he won his two world championships.

Cricket-England players will return to individual training next week in the first step to returning to action.

Bowlers will have staggered sessions at various county grounds and other players will start training again in two weeks.

There will be no professional cricket in England and Wales until at least the 1st of July but the West Indies which was supposed to take place next month could still go ahead at a later date.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate westerly winds.

Top temperatures 20-23 degrees.

Overnight lows of 15 degrees on the coast and 13 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend-Mainly fine in coastal areas ,some thundery showers inland.Highs of 21-23 degrees.

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