French and Riviera News.Monday June 29th 2020

Coronavirus - Regional health authorities say that there are now only 46 patients suffering from coronavirus in Alpes-Maritimes hospitals. The figure is the lowest since the 22nd of March with an extra 17 people discharged from hospitals over the weekend. Only one patient remains in intensive care compared with 87 on the 8th of April and the spread of the virus in the department is now described as “very low”. 282 people from the Alpes-Maritimes have died from the virus since the start of the crisis.

Meanwhile health experts in the Var have described rumours that new cases of the virus are growing quickly in Toulon as “rubbish”. Rumours on social media about a new cluster of cases in Toulon have been increasing over the past few days but health officials say that simply isn’t true.

Monaco - In Monaco, the latest official statistics show that a total of 103 people have contracted the coronavirus since the start of the epidemic. 4 people have died and 95 have been cured. Three new cases showed up last week including the tennis stars Grigor Dimitrov and Novak Djokovic who both contracted the virus abroad. There was one new case detected over the weekend with the patient being treated at home.

Self isolation - 14 employees from the boulangerie section at the Auchan supermarket at La Seyne sur Mer have been told to self-isolate after one tested positive for coronavirus. Management say that the employee was admitted to hospital for an unrelated illness on the 21st of June but tested positive for the virus while receiving treatment. The boulangerie area of the supermarket as well as employee changing rooms have been deep cleaned. None of those affected has had any direct contact with members of the public.

Trash - Landfill space is running out on the Côte d’Azur with the average resident producing 436 kilos of rubbish a year. The figure is way above the national average of 360 kilos and authorities have been forced to export waste from the south of France to other areas of the country. In November last year, 500 tonnes of locally-generated rubbish had to be sent for incineration in the Nord Pas-de-Calais because there was no capacity to treat it at source. The Mayor of Antibes Jean Leonetti has called for a urgent solution to be found and a working group has been set up to examine the problem. There needs to be an extra focus on recycling and collective composting.

Local elections - Christian Estrosi has been elected as Mayor of Nice for a third term. Mr Estrosi was elected with 59.3 percent of the vote in the second round ahead of the RN candidate Philippe Vardon who obtained 21.29 percent. In Menton, Jean-Claude Giubal was reelected with 55.7 percent of the vote and Louis Negre was returned as Mayor of Cagnes-sur-Mer with 47.86 percent of the vote. Valbonne has gone Green with Joseph Cesaro unseating the outgoing Mayor Christophe Etore with 45.46 percent of the vote.

Drug busts - Police in the Var say that they’ve broken up a large drug trafficking gang after making 8 arrests at a luxury villa at Gassin last week. Authorities say that all those arrested are “important figures” in the drugs trade and a large amount of illegal substances has been seized including a kilo of cocaine and 45 kilos of cannabis resin. All those arrested are aged between 20 and 40. The villa where they were apprehended was being rented at 7 thousand euros a week.

Jellyfish - Large numbers of jellyfish have been showing up on the shores of the south of France over the weekend pushed inshore by currents and multiplying in the hot weather. The Pelagia Noctiluca or “Mauve Stinger” has been showing up in large numbers on beaches from the Var to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and can cause extreme discomfort. Authorities say that if people are stung then they should avoid scratching and seek help from a pharmacy which will be able to provide a calming cream to apply to the affected area. Stings should not be rinsed with fresh water and you should stay out of the sun afterwards.

National News

Brexit residency delay - The French government has announced that the launch of a new website to alllow British people to apply for residency post-Brexit has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The site had been due to go live on the 1st of July but has now been put back until October. Under the terms of the EU withdrawal agreement, British people will have to apply for a specific residency permit by the end of June 2021. The delay has been caused as prefectures are facing a 3-month backlog in processing residency permits and are unable to take the extra Brexit case load on for the time being.

Holidays - British people wishing to visit France for a holiday will be allowed to do so from the 6th of July under a new “Air Bridge” system. The British government says that it will relax the 14 day quarantine period with an announcement coming in the middle of next week but with a strict “handbrake” mechanism in place with restrictions on travel reimplemented should cases of the virus flare up again at any destination. People entering the UK will no longer be required to go into 14-day quarantine on arrival but will be asked to provide contact details. The new regulations will apply to air travel as well as ferries, the Eurostar and the Eurotunnel .

Black lives matter - The French cosmetics giant L’Oreal is to remove words such as “whitening and fairness” from its products in light of global anti-racism protests. The move follows a decision by the Indian and Bangladeshi arms of the consumer products giant Unilever to remove their “Fair and Lovely” skin-lightning cream from sale for the same reason. Several firms including L’Oreal have been criticised in recent days for their skin-lightening products. Last week, Johnson and Johnson said that it would stop selling its Clean and Clear products, advertised as dark-spot reducers in Asia and the Middle East.

Greens gain - The Green Party and its left-wing allies have made big gains in the second round of the French municipal elections. Green candidates took cites including Lyon, Strasbourg and Besancon while the party of President Emmanuel Macron failed to win any big municipality. Anne Hidalgo has been reelected as Mayor of Paris while the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe held on to Le Havre. The second round of voting had been delayed because of the coronavirus crisis. Turnout was very low.

Business

Pilots and test crews from the US Federal Aviation Administration are reported to be starting a three-day certification drive for the Boeing 737 MAX today at a pivotal moment for the firm’s worst ever corporate crisis. The Covid-19 crisis has slashed demand for air travel and demand for jets with Boeing keen to put the crash history of the 737 MAX behind it. The jets were grounded following crashes that killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia which triggered lawsuits and investigations by Congress and the US Department of Justice. The grounding has caused serious cash flow problems for Boeing with the Coronavirus crisis adding to the firm’s problems. Data from the test flights will be analysed by the FAA and a new safety protocol will not be approved pending lengthy studies. The 737 MAX is likely to remain grounded until at least September.

UK travel firms have reported “an explosion” in bookings following the government’s announcement of an easing of current restrictions. Blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will be relaxed on the 6th of July with holidaymakers allowed to travel to certain European destinations without having to spend 14 days in quarantine on their return. Several firms including TUI say that bookings have accelerated strongly in the past few days which it described as “an extremely positive step forward”. Lastminute.com said that it had experienced an 80 percent increase in holiday sales compared to last week, largely down to the announcement that Spain has lifted quarantine restrictions for British visitors.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say that he will “not go back to the austerity of 10 years ago” in a major speech this week. Mr Johnson set out his plans for a post-lockdown economic recovery in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. He said that there would be a new task force to look at the speeding up of building hospitals, schools and roads adding that the government would be trying to help people whose old jobs were “not there any more to get the opportunities that they need”. The UK economy shrank by 20.4 percent in April, the largest monthly fall on record. Labour has accused the government of “pulling the rug from under” many parts of the economy. The shadow Business Secretary Ed Milliband has warned of “Thatcher levels of unemployment" if sectors such as hospitality can’t fully reopen. On Sunday, the Observer newspaper said that the jobless rate could soar to levels not seen since the 1980s, tipping past the peak of 3.3 million seen in 1984 under the government of Margaret Thatcher.

Sport

Football - The draw has been made in England for the semi-finals of the FA Cup following the weekend’s quarter final ties. Manchester City will play Arsenal and Manchester United will play Chelsea. Both ties will be played at Wembley Stadium over the weekend of the 18th and 19th of July.

There was one game in the English Premier League on Sunday. Watford are in deep relegation trouble after losing 3-1 at home to Southampton. There’s one game tonight. Crystal Palace play Burnley.

In the English Championship on Sunday, Sheffield Wednesday were 2-1 winners at Bristol City and Nottingham Forest beat Huddersfield 3-1.

Cricket - The West Indies captain Jason Holder says that players found guilty of racism should face the same penalties as those found match fixing or doping. Holder said that the penalty for doping or corruption should be exactly the same for racism. The ICC rules allow for a lifetime ban for on field racism but culprits are rarely punished to that extent. Holder says that it’s time for clarification of the rules.

Tennis - Dan Evans has beaten Kyle Edmund in the “Battle of the Brits” final. Evans showed why he’s the current British number one with a 6-3 6-2 victory at the National Tennis Centre. Evans will be hoping to continue the good form when the ATP Tour resumes in August.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly winds across the Var. Top temperatures 30 degrees on the coast and 33 degrees inland. Overnight lows of 22 degrees on the coast and 20 degrees inland with clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Mainly fine with highs of 26-30 degrees.

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