French and Riviera News Monday 20th April 2020

Coronavirus - There have been 3 new deaths from the coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes over the weekend and 4 in the Var. In total to date, Covid-19 has claimed 313 lives in both these regions. 

In detail in the Alpes Maritimes, 279 patients are currently hospitalised and there are 55 in intensive care. In the Var 317 people are hospitalised and 46 are in intensive care. 

In the whole PACA region, 2,771 patients have been discharged from hospital cured from the virus while 470 patients have succumbed to Coivd-19 since the end of February. Out of 1,795 hospitalized patients (-71), 348 patients (-16) have been placed in intensive care units.

In Monaco after four consecutive days last week of no new cases of coronavirus the Principality announced one new case on Friday, no new cases on Saturday or Sunday were reported.

The total number of cases of the virus in the Principality to date stands at 94. Twenty-two patients have recovered. 7 people are in hospital, 3 of which are in intensive care. There are currently 86 patients being cared for at home with mild symptoms of the virus. 

Worldwide the pandemic has killed nearly 160,000 people, including 19,323 in France which from today begins its sixth week of confinement. According to authorities the effects of distancing measures are starting to be felt: for the tenth consecutive day, the balance of hospitalizations continues to decrease. 

Meanwhile New Caledonia will be the first French territory to exit confinement today Monday 20th April. To date, only 18 cases, all imported, have been detected for a total of 3,000 tests carried out while, for 12 days, no new patients have been identified.

Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe - During a press conference on Sunday evening the French Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe declared that "Our lives from May 11th will not be exactly the life we had before confinement". 

The Prime Minister indicated that he would not be detailing during the press conference, the measures for the end of the confinement  which were announced by Emmanuel Macron for May 11th. Before adding that he "will do it soon, within the next two weeks when he will present the plan that the President has asked him to prepare."

The Prime Minister underlined that while the health crisis was progressively getting slowly better it was "not over".

During the Press conference it was also announced by the Prime Minister and Health Minister Olivier Véran that families will be able to visit their loved ones staying in nursing homes all be it under very strict conditions from Monday. The visits must not be made by more than two people and will be authorized on a case-by-case basis by the directors of these establishments.

The Prime Minister also said that even after May 11th those able to work from home must cintinue to do so. For schools the reopening will be done by region (starting with those regions the least affected by the virus) and by accomodating half classes to begin with. Shops which are able to reopen from May 11th will have to respect social distancing measures in place. 

On the subject of masks Edouard Philippe assured that the national production of masks has doubled since January. Faced with the difficulties noted on the mask supply chains on the international scene, the French government has decided to intensify production in France. This production has grown "from 4 million masks a week in January to over 8 million today," said the Prime Minister. Concluding that "France will continue to increase its production capacity,". 

Meanwhile the biggest plane in the world landed in the Marne near Paris with 8 million masks on Sunday. According to reports the plane from China landed around 11am however, it is not part of the "airlift" launched between China and France according to a spokesman "it is not a government order but a request from a private French company". The name of the company was not disclosed.

And - It's been reported that from today, Monday 20th residents in Nice can register online at www.masques.nice.fr or by phone 04.97.13.56.00 to obtain a mask. Masks will be available from 28th April until 9th May. There will be distribution points in several areas. 

Left far right leader is not convinced by the decision for schools to reopen - Leader of the French far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has said that he is "uncomfortable" with the possibility of schools reopening from May 11th. Speaking to French media on Sunday Mélenchon ensured that he, himself  would "not be sending" his child, if he had one of school age. He added that "he felt that the move to reopen schools had only been taken in order to allow people to return to work and that the French government want to make people return to work due to the competition which continues between different economies". He concluded that school in "not a daycare centre". 


Traces of Covid-19 in non-potable water network in Paris - "Tiny traces" of Covid-19 have been discovered in the non-potable water network in Paris, which is used in particular to clean the streets, announced the mayor of Paris on Sunday.

The Paris water authority's detected tiny amounts of the virus in four of 27 samples collected from around the capital, leading to an immediate shutdown of the network as a precaution. 

Drinking water in the Capital is supplied from a 'totally independent' network and 'can be consumed without any risk,' stressed the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. 

In Paris, two independent networks coexist: that of drinking water, and that of non-potable water. 

The latter is used to water certain parks and gardens and to clean the streets.  

Fnac Darty secures 500 million euro loan - Electronics retail giant Fnac Darty has announced that it has secured a €500 million loan guaranteed by the French state "to secure cash flow" and prepare for recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the guaranteed €500 million facility was "the first that the French state has granted to a major French company" to help it over the crisis.

Meanwhile, amid a row over health conditions Amazon France has extended the closure of its sites in France due to the coronavirus outbreak until Wednesday 22nd April. 

Pope Francis - Pope Francis has thanked the media for their work. Pope Francis came to greet journalists on Sunday after celebrating a mass during which he warned against "an even worse virus" than the coronavirus, "selfishness". The Pope went on to say "Thank you to journalist for their work. Working instead of staying in bed on Sundays. Thank you very much, it is important to communicate," the pope told reporters who were waiting for him outside the Roman church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, a stone's throw away from the Vatican.

False police check - Police have arrested a 38 year old man for posing as a police officer. The man posed as an officer, and carried out a control on a resident of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, near Dunkirk, and managed to get away wtih 900 euros. 

The false police officer dressed in civilian clothes stopped the individual and carried out a check ordering the victim to pay the 135 euros fine. With no cash on him the victim was asked to get into his "unmarked" car to go and withdraw money. The victim agreed and handed over his bank card and code allowing him to withdraw 900 euros and not the 135 euros fine.  A fight followed with the false police officer managing to flee the scene with the 900 euros. He was arrested a few hours later and placed in police custody. 

Sailing Tour de France 2020 cancelled - Due to take place from July 3rd to 19th the 2020 Sailing Tour de france between Dunkirk and Nice has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization said, adding that a postponement was not possible.

The ban on events until at least mid-July means that the 43rd edition of the event will not be taking place. 

New book looks at scandalous past of the Elysée - A new book published has looked into the scandalous past of the Elysée Palace.

In the book written by Jean Garrigues, prominent historian and author, Garrigues argues that, just as French society is changing with the #MeToo movement, so too must the country’s Presidents.

Une histoire érotique de l’Elysée, details how the palace has been at the centre of some of the country’s most notorious sex scandals for three hundred years.

Business

The world's biggest entertainment group Walt Disney is to stop paying more than 100,000 employees from this week as it struggles with coronavirus closures.

The group which operates theme parks and hotels in the US, Europe and Asia has stopped pay for almost half of its workforce saving Disney up to $500m (£400m) a month, according to the Financial Times.

The company said it will provide full healthcare benefits for staff placed on unpaid leave and urged its US employees to apply for government benefits through the $2tn coronavirus stimulus package. 

The UK government has announced a £1.25bn package to support innovative new companies that are not eligible for existing coronavirus rescue schemes.

It will match up to £250m of private investment and add £550m to an existing loan and grant scheme for smaller firms that focus on research and development.

And the president of the MES has said that the European Union will need at least an additional 500 billion euros from its various institutions to recover from the consequences of the new coronavirus. 

In an interview published on Sunday by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the head of the European Stability Mechanism (MES), the euro area emergency fund, says that the simplest way to raise these funds would be to European Commission and the EU budget.

EU finance ministers agreed on a 500 billion euro support plan to tackle the economic consequences of the coronavirus health crisis on 9th April after weeks of feuds that highlighted the painful divisions within the community block.

Sport

Football - It looks like Watford football team are set to become the third Premier League club to agree wage deferrals with their first team squad.

Earlier this month, Southampton and West Ham confirmed their players would defer part of their salaries because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile  the players of Roma have been praised after their ’ “superb gesture” by volunteering to forgo four months’ salary to help the club during the coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual Formula 1 - Home boy formula one pilot Charles Leclerc has had quite a week when it comes to driving his Ferrari in the comfort of his home here in Monaco. 

Having won the previous Virtual F1 GP, held at a simulated Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, after just a few days of practice, Ferrari's young driver has become obsessed.

He has at the same time helped to raise more than £55,000 for charity to help fight coronavirus - alongside lots of other drivers - by winning the Race For The World.

Rugby Union -  Rugby boss Sir Bill Beaumont says he is confident a revised Nations Championship will be launched in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans for a revolutionary world league were abandoned last year after World Rugby were unable to gain unanimous support from unions.

But Beaumont says the current health crisis has acted as a "reality check" for the game.

Weather

Rain is forecast for most of the day. Highs of 18 degrees in Nice, Antibes, Cannes and 17 degrees in Saint Tropez and Frejus with a moderate easterly wind. This evening going down to 14 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and 12 degrees in the Var. 

The outlook for Tuesday and Wednesday the rain is expected to continue, clearing by Wednesday afternoon with some sunny spells and temperatures remaining the same with highs of 20 degrees. 

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