French and Riviera News Wednesday 29th April 2020

Coronavirus cases - Five people died from Covid-19 in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var on Tuesday April 28th. Both departments have recorded in total 391 deaths from coronavirus since the start of the epidemic.

On Tuesday, there were 6 fewer people hospitalized for Covid-19 in the Alpes Maritimes this marks the largest drop since April 22nd. An additional person was admitted to intensive care, bringing the number of patients in "intensive care" to 49.

In total, 279 people are still hospitalized in the Var with 39 still in intensive care.

On a national level in France the coronavirus has caused 367 new deaths in 24 hours, bringing the total to 23,660 since March 1st. However, there were 221 fewer patients admitted to intensive care on Tuesday April 28, announced the DGS.

Progressive end to the lockdown in France - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has presented his plan to the National Assembly to progressively end the lockdown in France.

He unveiled six key areas from May 11th concerning; schools, shops, businesses, masks, isolation tests for patients and gatherings, adding that "we will have to live with the virus". He also insisted that the “progressive” end could only happen on the 11th if there were no negative indicators on the virus suggesting otherwise.

Wearing a mask will be imposed in "certain situations". The Prime Minister confirmed that there will be enough masks in the country to meet the needs from May 11th. Companies are required to equip their employees with masks, and pharmacies and supermarkets will be invited to sell disposable or washable ones.

Testing - Testing for coronavirus will be massively stepped up and reimbursed at 100%". And when a person "has tested positive", they are to provide all possible contact cases and self-isolate. This isolation may take place at home or in a hotel. It will be up to the prefect of each region to define the support plans for people in self-isolation.

Schools - For schools, there will be a gradual reopening of nursery and primary schools from May 11th on a voluntary basis. Secondly, from May 18th, but only in the departments where the virus circulation is very weak, the opening of secondary education will begin in colleges, starting with the 1st and 2nd year (6eme and 5eme). A decision will be taken at the end of May as to whether lycées can reopen.

Classes will start under strict sanitary conditions: no more than 15 students per class. All teachers and supervisors will receive masks. Wearing masks is not recommended in elementary school. On the other hand, college students will be provided with masks.

Nurseries and crèches will reopen in groups of "10 children maximum". With teachers and supervisors required to wear masks.

Working from home - Working from home should be maintained wherever possible, at least in the first three weeks. The Prime Minister said that “There is no such thing as before and after May 11," He also advised companies to “stagger schedules" to avoid too many people in the workplace at the same time. Partial unemployment will remain in place until June 1st.

Shops - Shops may reopen on May 11th, except cafes and restaurants. Markets will generally be authorized, unless the mayors or prefects believe that they cannot enforce barrier gestures. He added: "Shops must respect strict specifications in order to enforce the rule of the minimum distance. The wearing of a mask is recommended for staff and customers when physical distance measures cannot be guaranteed. Shop owners may make wearing a mask obligatory for its customers.

Transport - Transport and travel will remain limited discouraging travel between departments. This is not the time to leave your department to go away for the weekend, " the Prime Minister insisted. Travel certificates will no longer be required from May 11th "It will again be possible to move freely, without documentation, except for trips more than 100 km from home, which will only be possible for, family or professional reasons”.

Beaches - Beaches will remain closed at least until June 1st. Large museums, cinemas, theaters cannot reopen," "The parks and gardens, so essential to the balance of life in the city, can only open in the regions where the virus does not circulate actively. Libraries and small museums will be able to open their doors as of May 11. "

Sports - On the sport’s side, "the 2019-2020 season of professional sport, especially football, will not be able to resume." There will be no religious ceremonies until June 2nd. "As for rallies, and gatherings they will be limited to 10 people from May 11th."

Finally, he concluded, " a decision on bars, cafes and restaurants will be made in late May, to decide if they can open after June 2."

Reaction to Prime Minister’s end of lockdown measures - Other political parties were divided over the measures insisting that there were too many questions still unanswered. Such as the 100km limit asking, how is it measured? Is it for example, a distance taken as the crow flies or by train? And if the travel is essential for work or family what documentation is needed?

Both Jean Luc Melancon, leader of the far left and Marine Le Penn leader of the far right, confirmed that they were opposed to the reopening schools. In an interview on Tuesday evening Le Penn highlighted that recently in the UK there had been cases of young children being affected by coronavirus.

Map for regions - On May 7th a map will be published by the French government defining each region and the rate of which the virus is spreading and number of cases, ranging from green to red. This will then predict the measures implemented for reach region.

Monaco - Meanwhile in Monaco the Minister of State Serge Telle has announced that from the 4th May there will be three phases. For a progressive end to the lockdown.

Phase One - The first phase from the 4th will see people able to circulate freely in the Principality and return to work. Shops will be able to reopen respecting strict health measures, hairdressers and beauty salons will be open on appointment. Private yachts will be able to circulate from 9am to 8pm respecting limits in place by the police maritime. Building sites will reopen again under strict health measures.

2nd phase - The second phase from the 11th will see educational establishment reopen progressively for primary, secondary education and higher education. Nursery schools will not be reopening.

Depending on the success of the first two phases and the continual control over the virus the third and final phase could see from 1st June "non-essential" establishments reopen such as bars, restaurants, cafes, beaches, cinemas and swimming pools and gyms.

From May 4th Masks will be obligatory on public transport and strongly advised when out and about. Gel sanitizer will be made available however wearing gloves is not advised by the health authorities as they are thought to give a "false sense of security".

Testing will continue in the form of nasal swabs and eventually blood tests, as and when they are confirmed to be 100% reliable.

Serge Telle confirmed that a peak in Covid-19 had not been seen in Monaco and that thanks to health personnel and the goodwill of people respecting the measures in place the situation was under control.

The phases will be carried out in a"stop and go" way in order to control the situation at the end of each phase.

Serge Telle concluded that we must learn to live with the virus, remain vigilant respect barrier gestures and social distancing measures.

Nice Airport - It’s been announced that Air China, United Airlines and Delta Airlines will not be operating from Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, at least until September. While the Covid-19 pandemic remains global, the prospect of a return to normal air traffic remains more than uncertain.

With the exception of a few national flights (Paris and Corsica) and links with England, all international traffic at Nice Côte d´Azur airport has come to a complete standstill.

France’s oldest doctor - France’s oldest doctor continues to work through the lockdown in France. 98-year-old Dr Christian Chenay has continued to carry out his work despite the danger of Covid-19 for someone of his age. Dr Chenay kept his surgery open in the south of Paris which he had opened in 1951 but was forced to close after protective equipment was stolen. He is now still making weekly trips to a retirement home to provide support and says his decision to keep working is partly down to France’s shortage of local family doctors. He concludes that there have been no deaths at the home and states "that is the way it's going to stay". 

Mimosa Matters - We may still be in lockdown and many events in the outside world have been cancelled, but that hasn't stopped charities and individuals organising fundraising events. Mimosa Matters, one of the local charities involved in supporting those affected by cancer, have just launched the Mimosa Family Challenge. Mimosa are asking families to run at home for the week of 3rd - 9th May with the aim of running the same distance in total as running around mainland France and Monaco, which is 6,398 km. If you'd like to take part and help Mimosa Matters, check out their website https://www.mimosamatters.org/

Business

Google’s parent company Alphabet has beaten analysts expectations for revenue despite the economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm said that while users are searching more ,they were looking up less commercial topics and advertisers were cutting spending.

Growth at Google has been repeatedly breaking records over the past few years due to a booming economy and rising internet use.The firm has warned that the second quarter will be difficult for its advertising business  with revenue down by around 14 percent at the end of March compared with a year ago.

Alphabet’s overall revenue in the first quarter came in at 41.2 billion dollars-up 13 percent on a year ago beating analysts forecasts.

Google advertising sales came in at 33.8 billion dollars-up 10 percent on last year’s first quarter.

YouTube was among the firm’s best performers with advertising growth accelerating despite the impact of the coronavirus on budgets.

 

British Airways is set to cut some 12,000 jobs from its 42,000 strong workforce due to a collapse in business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm’s parent company IAG says that it needs to impose a restructuring and redundancy programme until demand for air travel returns to 2019 levels.

IAG also owns the Spanish airline Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.

The firm said that the proposals remain subject to consultations but would affect British Airways staff in particular.

IAG said that it would take many years for air travel to return to pre-virus levels and that action must be taken now.

The pilots union Balpa said that the news was “devastating” and that it would fight “every single” job cut.

 

And-First quarter profits at BP have nosedived by 66 percent as the coronavirus crisis hit demand for oil.

BP warned that it was facing an “exceptional level” of uncertainty as a result in the sharp fall in demand for its products.

Lockdowns around the world have sent the price of oil crashing to 20 year lows  with BP saying that it was focusing on protecting its staff ,supporting communities and strengthening its finances.

The firm said that it would continue to pay shareholders a dividend.

Sport

Football-Fifa’s chief doctor has warned that starting competitions again is not a good idea and has advised governing bodies to start preparing for action next season instead.

Michel d’Hooghe  said that as a doctor ,he would be skeptical about continuing domestic leagues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The English Premier League is to meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of resuming games in June and there are similar moves afoot in Italy.

The French government meanwhile has ruled that there will be no more action in the top two flights of football this season.

Doctor d’Hooghe said that his advice would be not to play any competitive football in the coming weeks.

Formula 1-The sport has almost doubled the shutdown period for teams as the coronavirus pandemic continues to seriously affect the 2020 championship.

Teams started different shutdowns in March and the new rules mean that they will all be closed until the end of May.

The decision comes just 24 hours after Formula 1 said that it hoped to start the season in Austria in July.

Rugby Union-Ideas for resuming the sport are being discussed including the possibility of uncontested scrums and more passing in the backs.

Rugby is facing possibly the biggest challenge in its history with clubs suffering financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and no clear signs as to when competitive matches can start again.

Some players are suggesting that “speed rugby” with minimal physical contact would be the way forward especially given that matches are most likely to resume on hard surfaces during the summer months.

Weather 

Clear skies with moderate to strong westerly winds across the Var.

Top temperature 21 degrees.

Overnight lows of 14 degrees on the coast and 12 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Hazy sunshine tomorrow with a few afternoon showers possible.Fine on Friday.Highs of 18-22 degrees.

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