French and Riviera News Wednesday 20th May 2020

Teacher at the Lycee Albert 1er in Monaco tests positive - The Monegasque government has reassured worried parents, after a maths teacher at the Lycée Albert 1er tested positive for Covid-19. The teacher was taken ill last Wednesday and underwent tests on Friday which proved positive. Officials have said that “even though the test was positive there is little foreseeable risk as all the necessary health measures were taken by staff and pupils at the school”. Students from the class will take a PCR test today and the establishment is to remain open. In addition, an investigation is underway to determine the patient's contacts leading up to the diagnosis. Meanwhile the serological testing campaign for residents and employees in the Principality was launched on Tuesday with 1,500 people being tested so far.

Coronavirus - The number of people being admitted to hospital in France due to the coronavirus continues to decline. France’s health director Jérôme Salomon delivered the government’s daily report during a press conference on Tuesday. With no mention of the number of deaths due to Covid-19, Salomon announced that 18,468 people remain hospitalised with intensive care units continuing to empty counting 1,894 cases. Since the start of the epidemic, 99,258 people have been hospitalised in France. 62,500 people have returned home.

Getting rid of masks - Local MP Eric Pauget of the Alpes Maritimes has called for a crackdown on regulations, when deposing of surgical masks. Many masks are being found discarded on the streets of cities and villages since the end of the lockdown. Many surgical masks are effective for 3 to 4 hours against the virus and take 450 years to decompose. Current regulations in place mean that anyone caught by police discarding a mask on the public highway, is liable for a €68 fine. Eric Pauget wants to see this fine increased to €300.

Frontline workers - Marlène Schiappa, France’s Secretary of State in charge of equality between men and women, has called for a "revaluation of women on the frontline of the coronavirus”. According to a recent study carried out by INSEE nearly nine out of ten nurses and caregivers are women, nearly nine out of ten cashiers are women and almost two in three teachers are women.

Testing for the homeless - The local Red Cross in Antibes-Vallauris is offering Covid-19 testing to homeless people on a voluntary baisis from next week. Results should be available within 24 hours and support will be offered to those who need it.

Voluntary self-isolation - France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian has announced this morning, that any French nationals and permanent residents in France arriving from abroad outside of the EU, are to self-isolate on a “voluntary” basis for a fortnight. The Minister confirmed that the “voluntary” self-isolation for those arriving from outside of the European Union will be requested from today.

Scientific Council approves local elections in France for late June - France’s Scientific Council has said that it does not oppose to a second round of local elections in late June. The Scientific Council confirmed that local elections can be held, but on the condition that a series of sanitary measures are respected.

100km travel limitation - 200,000 checks have been carried out in France concerning the 100km travel limitation set by the French government at the beginning of the easing of lockdown measures. In total, 950 fines were issued during the first week of deconfinement.

Request to make motorways free of charge for the summer rejected by France’s transport minister - Following a request made last week by Carole Delga, president of the Occitania region, requesting that motorway companies in France make all pay tolls free of charge for the summer season, France’s Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has said, this morning, that the request was “neither realistic nor desirable”. Carole Delga had requested free access to all motorways in France throughout the summer, the idea was to encourage people to travel within France and boost the tourism sector.

Iconic project - The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has said that construction of the "Iconic" project in the centre of Nice is running six months behind schedule. When completed, the Iconic will link the tramway to the main railway station and will also contain a hotel, auditorium, shops, offices, restaurants and a sports hall. During a visit to the site on Tuesday, the Mayor said that construction work with safety protocols had restarted on May 11th and the project should be open to the public in the second half of next year.

Cancelled flights - A French consumer rights organisation has started legal action against twenty airlines regarding their alleged failure to refund customers for cancelled flights. UFC-Que Choisir says that the airlines are not respecting legislation which says that consumers have the right to a refund for cancelled flights and are not required to accept a credit note in place of a refund. The association says that it isn't seeking damages and is merely attempting to compel the airlines to follow the law.

Toulon-Hyères airport - Toulon-Hyères airport has announced the resumption of certain flights. One return Air France flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle will be made from 2nd June, increasing to two flights per day from 15th June.

Cine-Drive Cannes - Due to the success of the drive-in cinema in Cannes, organisers have announced a larger screen for further projections to be held next week. Launched in the Palm Beach car park, in order to attend the new Cine-Drive, cinema goers must book on the Olympia or Arcades cinemas website, or via the link on Cannes.com. Screenings take place at 9:30 p.m. with access to the parking from 8:30 p.m.

Business

The healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson is to withdraw the sale of its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada. The firm is facing multiple lawsuits from consumers who claim that its talcum powder products caused them to develop cancer. Johnson & Johnson has persistently denied the claims but has already been ordered to pay out billions of dollars in compensation. The company says that it will wind down sales of the product in the coming months but that retailers will continue to sell existing stock. More than 16,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson claiming that its talc products were contaminated with asbestos which is a known carcinogen. In a statement, the firm said that it remained “steadfastly confident” in the safety of its talc-based Johnson’s baby powder adding that “decades of independent scientific studies by medical experts around the world supported the safety of its product”.

The UK Finance Minister has said that there is no guarantee that there will be an “immediate bounceback” for the economy once lockdown restrictions are eased. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said that he hoped for a swift recovery but that it could take time for the UK economy to get back to normal. Mr Sunak’s warning came as figures showed that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose to 2.1 million in April. The jump in claims reflects the impact of the first full month of lockdown in the UK and Mr Sunak said that the progressive easing and lifting of restrictions suggested that a full recovery could take time. He said that all economic forecasters and economists agreed that the longer the recession is, the likelihood that the scarring will be greater.

EasyJet has admitted that a “highly sophisticated cyber-attack” has affected some 9 million customers. The firm said that email addresses and travel details had been stolen and that more than 2,000 customers had also had their credit card details accessed. The company said that it had become aware of the attack in January and that the UK information commissioner’s office had been informed. Stolen credit card data included the 3 digit security code or CVV number on the back of the card and the firm said that it had gone public to warn the 9 million customers whose email addresses had been stolen to be careful about phishing attacks.

Sport

Formula 1 - Formula 1 says that it will be unable to hold a British Grand Prix this season if personnel are not given exemptions from plans to quarantine international travellers. The UK government is set to impose a quarantine requirement of 14 days on all arrivals from abroad and the sport says that the regulations would make it impossible for the Silverstone event to go ahead. The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport said that no decision on possible exemptions had yet been reached.

Football - There have been 6 positive coronavirus cases confirmed among English Premier League players and coaching staff as clubs returned to training on Tuesday. One player at Watford and two staff at Watford tested positive as well as the Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan. The other two cases are at a third club but the details have not been revealed. A total of 748 players were tested along with staff from 19 clubs. Those affected will now self-isolate for 7 days.

Racing - Some courses in France are to close again just a week after the sport returned to the country behind closed doors. Government approval for racing has now been withdrawn in areas still affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Longchamp, Saint Cloud and Auteuil are among those who’ve been ordered to close again. The French 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas in June could now be switched from Longchamp to Deauville as a result.

Motorsport - The Automobile Club of Monaco has announced that there will be three major events in the principality in 2021. The Club says that because this year’s Historic Grand Prix was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will take place next year instead between the 23rd and 25th April with the 4th Monaco ePrix taking place on the 8th May and then the 78th Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix will be staged between the 20th and 23rd of May. The news has been received enthusiastically by motorsport fans who’ve been starved of action so far this year and will bring some much needed extra revenue to the Automobile Club and the principality.

Weather

Mainly fine in coastal areas with some showers inland this afternoon and light variable winds. Top temperatures 25-27 degrees. Overnight lows of 19 degrees on the coast and 15 degrees inland with clear skies.

Thursday and Friday - Mainly fine with highs of 23-25 degrees.

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