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Millions of French people enjoy last night of freedom before Covid curfew in Paris and other cities 

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millions of french people enjoy last night of freedom before covid curfew in paris and other cities

Millions of people across France‘s largest cities are enjoying their last night of freedom ahead of the strict 9pm curfew which came into force on Friday night.

France is fighting against a resurgent epidemic that has now filled a third of the country’s intensive care units with COVID-19 patients and is again putting Europe to the test.

President Emmanuel Macron announced curfews on around 20 million people in the Paris region and eight other French metropolitan areas starting tonight to try to slow the tide.

France has seen its case totals soar during the coronavirus second wave, reporting 25,000 cases on Friday along with 178 deaths. The cases figures is a rise of 5,000 on the same time last week.

Millions of French people enjoy a last night of freedom before a Covid-19 curfew in Paris and other large cities comes into effect as the Government aims to reduce the spike in new cases

Millions of French people enjoy a last night of freedom before a Covid-19 curfew in Paris and other large cities comes into effect as the Government aims to reduce the spike in new cases

People wear protective face masks as they look out at the Paris skyline from Montmartre at nightfall, just hours before a city-wide night time curfew goes into effect in Paris, France

People wear protective face masks as they look out at the Paris skyline from Montmartre at nightfall, just hours before a city-wide night time curfew goes into effect in Paris, France

People wearing protective face masks walk near the Eiffel Tower hours before the new curfew

People wearing protective face masks walk near the Eiffel Tower hours before the new curfew

People enjoy a drink on a restaurant terrace in Lille, northern France before the city curfew

People enjoy a drink on a restaurant terrace in Lille, northern France before the city curfew

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The capital will now shut down for nine hours from 9pm until 6am, in a bid to stop the disease circulating, President Emmanuel Macron revealed earlier this week.

This strict State of Emergency measure was also applied to Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier.

All bars, restaurants, theatres and similar businesses will have to shut at 9pm sharp from Saturday, said Mr Macron.

In a live TV interview on Wednesday evening, France’s Macron confirmed that France was now ‘being hit by the second wave.’

‘This virus that we have known from the beginning and which has struck us for eight months, is coming back,’ he said.

‘We have not lost control. We are in a situation which is worrying and which justifies that we are neither inactive nor in panic.

‘It is equally worrying in other European countries, such as Germany which is also taking restrictive measures.

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‘Spain and the Netherlands are also in a very worrying situation, and have taken very restrictive measures in recent days’.

A state of health emergency in France was previously declared in March in response to spiralling infections as the first Covid-19 wave hit.

Mr Macron said this State of Emergency was now set to be re-introduced, along with the other tougher measures, from Saturday.

It followed the number of Covid-19 infections rising by 26,896 in 24 hours last Saturday – a record since widespread testing began.

Mr Macron’s last major TV address was on Bastille Day, July 14, and since then the wearing of face masks has been made compulsory.

France first went into strict lockdown in March, when all bars and restaurants were closed, and people need passes to go out for an hour.

But an expert panel set up to evaluate France’s response to the pandemic reported on Tuesday that there were ‘clear failures of anticipation, preparation and management’.

France is deploying 12,000 officers to enforce the curfew coming into effect Friday night

France is deploying 12,000 officers to enforce the curfew coming into effect Friday night

People gather around street food truck in Marseille, southeastern France ahead of the curfew

 People gather around street food truck in Marseille, southeastern France ahead of the curfew

The government will spend another 1 billion euros to help businesses hit by the new restrictions as cities including Lille (pictured) face a strict 9pm curfew to curb new cases

 The government will spend another 1 billion euros to help businesses hit by the new restrictions as cities including Lille (pictured) face a strict 9pm curfew to curb new cases

There were particular problems with a shortage of face masks early on, and the authorities were slow to introduce testing.

Martin Hirsch, the head of the 39 hospitals in greater Paris, warned: ‘By around October 24, there will be a minimum of 800 to 1,000 Covid patients in intensive care, representing 70 to 90 percent of our current capacity.’

Mr Macron said unemployment emergency wages of ‘100 per cent for the employer will be reactivated’ during the curfew in the leisure sector, to include hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Employees would get 84 per cent of net wages, said Mr Macron.

Mr Macron said he did not want people ‘going bankrupt because of this curfew, as was the case during lockdown’.

Those caught on the streets after 9pm and before 6am will be subject to fines equivalent to £122 (€135), rising to £1353 (€1500) for repeat offenders.

Despite this, night public transport will continue during the four weeks of curfew, with passes allowed for essential workers.

A man holds a placard reading "A bar is the parliament of people" at Charles de Gaulle square before the late-night curfew due to restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus disease

A man holds a placard reading ‘A bar is the parliament of people’ at Charles de Gaulle square before the late-night curfew due to restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus disease

French President Emmanuel Macron addressing the nation during a televised interview from the Elysee Palace, announcing Paris and eight other major cities will now shut down for nine hours from 9pm to 6am, in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19 which will last for one month

French President Emmanuel Macron addressing the nation during a televised interview from the Elysee Palace, announcing Paris and eight other major cities will now shut down for nine hours from 9pm to 6am, in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19 which will last for one month

The government continues to send mixed messages about the virus. In addition to the curfew in several cities, the prime minister announced a nationwide ban on public weddings Thursday, even as the president encouraged French people to travel as usual for upcoming autumn school vacations.

The government announced it will deploy 12,000 police to enforce the new curfew, and will spend another 1 billion euros to help businesses hit hardest by the latest virus restrictions.

‘Our compatriots thought this health crisis was behind us,’ Castex said. ‘But we can’t live normally again as long as the virus is here.’

France is registering nearly 180 virus cases per 100,000 people every week, with 22,591 total new cases Wednesday. It has reported one of the world’s highest virus-related death tolls, at more than 33,000 lives lost.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Millionaire minister says parents don’t want the ‘label’ of free school meals in Rashford snub

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millionaire minister says parents dont want the label of free school meals in rashford snub

A millionaire minister snubbed England striker Marcus Rashfood’s plea for free school meals for the poorest pupils in the holidays by insisting struggling parents would rather pay than accept the ‘label’ attached to handouts. 

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi also insisted ‘it isn’t as simple as writing a massive cheque’ as the Government continued to oppose the Manchester United ace’s campaign.

Pressure is mounting on ministers to perform a U-turn and back his call for free meals for children over the school holidays, after a petition attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures in a matter of days.

But Mr Zahawi, who co-founded the YouGov polling firm, said Universal Credit benefits were available to support hard-pressed families and suggested that research from holiday clubs shows that parents prefer to pay a small sum for food. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The research when we did the pilot demonstrates that families didn’t just want the meals.

‘Although they valued the meals, they didn’t like the labelling of them being free. They actually prefer to pay a modest amount, £1 or £2. 

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi also insisted 'it isn't as simple as writing a massive cheque' as the Government continued to oppose the Manchester United ace's campaign.

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi also insisted ‘it isn’t as simple as writing a massive cheque’ as the Government continued to oppose the Manchester United ace’s campaign.

Pressure is mounting on ministers to perform a U-turn and back rashford's call for free meals for children over the school holidays, after a petition attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures in a matter of days

Pressure is mounting on ministers to perform a U-turn and back rashford’s call for free meals for children over the school holidays, after a petition attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures in a matter of days

‘But they valued the additional focus on exercise and on reading fun books and so on through the holiday.’ 

In 2018 Mr Zahawi, the Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon, was revealed to be the highest-paid MP in the Commons via a second job.

He was chief strategy officer at Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and reported outside earnings which were the equivalent of an annual salary of £765,000, before resigning when he became minister for children and families.

Mr Rashford, who has been made an MBE for his services to vulnerable children, forced a Government U-turn on free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils over the summer holidays.

And a parliamentary petition he started, calling for food to be provided during all holidays and for free school meals to be expanded to all households on Universal Credit, has garnered around 300,000 signatures since being launched late last week.

The fact that his petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures means it must now be considered for debate by MPs, under Parliamentary petition guidelines.

Labour will force a Commons vote on the extension of free school meals to eligible children after the Government refused to prolong the scheme through the October half-term break.

It will table a motion calling on the Government to continue directly funding free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 to ‘prevent over a million children going hungry during the coronavirus crisis’.

Labour said more than 1.44 million children who are eligible for free school meals will benefit if the scheme is extended.

‘Over a million children are at risk of going hungry over the holidays without access to free school meals. It is essential the Government provides this support urgently,’ shadow education secretary Kate Green said.

‘We gave the Prime Minister the chance to change course, but he refused to do so. Now his MPs must decide if they want to vote for their constituents to get this vital support or if they will leave families struggling to put food on the table.’

The Welsh Labour Government has pledged to provide free school meals during the holidays until Easter next year. 

Mr Rashford stepped up the pressure on the Government by urging his 3.4 million Twitter followers to lobby their MPs ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

‘Whilst I don’t agree with another sticking plaster method, these children do need protecting during the upcoming holidays,’ the footballer said.

‘If your MP doesn’t deem providing vulnerable children with vital food resources a priority then you must ask yourself why.’

However, Downing Street has shown reluctance to extend the scheme, with a spokesman indicating last Thursday that ministers would not provide free school meals to children in England during the Christmas break.

A Number 10 spokesman said last week: ‘It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays.’     

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Treasury hints at bailout for struggling firms in Tier Two areas

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treasury hints at bailout for struggling firms in tier two areas

Ministers today prompted speculation Rishi Sunak could soon announce a bailout for businesses which are ‘open in name only’ due to Tier Two coronavirus rules. 

The Government has pledged extra financial support for pubs, bars and restaurants which are forced to close in Tier Three areas. 

But there are growing concerns about businesses in Tier Two parts of the country which are not required to shut but have suffered a massive drop in customers due to restrictions on household mixing.  

Treasury minister Jesse Norman told the House of Commons the Government is ‘acutely aware of the financial costs on those businesses’ in Tier Two.

And in a potential hint that there may be more help to come he said the current programme of support for businesses is ‘evolving and comprehensive’. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to bring forward support for businesses in Tier Two areas which are 'open in name only'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to bring forward support for businesses in Tier Two areas which are ‘open in name only’

The issue was raised in the Commons today by Labour shadow Treasury minister Abena Oppong-Asare.  

Ms Oppong-Asare told MPs: ‘In regions facing Tier Three restrictions many businesses have been forced to close. 

‘In Tier Two regions many businesses, especially in hospitality, are open in name only – running up all the costs without the customers.

‘What does the Government have to say to those businesses which realistically cannot operate and are not legally required to close?’

Mr Norman replied: ‘The answer to the question (Ms Oppong-Asare) raises is, of course, that we are acutely aware of the financial costs on those businesses, as we are on businesses that have been forced to close.

‘That is why we have put in place an evolving and comprehensive programme of support for business.’

Mr Sunak announced earlier this month that the Government’s Job Support Scheme, the replacement to the furlough programme, would be expanded to support businesses required to close because of local coronavirus restrictions.   

The Treasury has committee to paying two thirds of employees’ salaries in affected areas while cash grants of up to £3,000 per month are being offered to businesses told to shut.

The forced closure of pubs, bars and restaurants is reserved to Tier Three areas – the top level of restrictions. 

But many businesses in Tier Two areas feel they have been left in limbo because while they are technically allowed to remain open, other rules mean customer numbers have dropped significantly. 

Tier Two includes a total ban on households mixing indoors but they can mix outdoors, including in pub gardens, as long as they stick to the Rule of Six.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Canadian town of Asbestos changes its name to Val-des-Sources

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canadian town of asbestos changes its name to val des sources

The Canadian town of Asbestos has officially changed its name to Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs) after connotations with the cancer-causing mineral resulted in ‘harmed tourism.’

Approximately half of the town’s 6,800 residents (2,796) turned out for a parking lot-based car vote or directly voted at the council offices last week in the municipality, located in southeastern Quebec.

The results were announced Monday evening with the winning name – related to its proximity to the source of three lakes – garnering 51.5 percent of the votes up against five other options; L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix and Trois-Lacs.

Last November, a poll was announced for residents to participate in the rebranding of the town – home to the mineral widely used around the world to insulate buildings, before it was discovered that its fibers lead to various lung conditions and mesothelioma.

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The Canadian town of Asbestos has officially changed its name to Val-des-Sources

This photo taken on July 21 2020, shows what's left of the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec. The open-pit mine was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people

This photo taken on July 21 2020, shows what’s left of the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec. The open-pit mine was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people

This September the options of Apalone, Jeffrey, Phénix and Trois-Lacs were put forward.

Alapone was suggested by Greenpeace Canada but Facebook user Lyne Dion was among those unimpressed, writing: ‘I wouldn’t be proud to say that I live in a soft turtle city.’

There also concern that Jeffrey could continue the harmful reputation of the town as it’s named after W.H. Jeffrey and the world’s largest asbestos mine which was closed in 2012.

The open-pit mine was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people.

Canada officially banned asbestos in 2018.

However Mayor Hugues Grimard claimed investors refused to take his business cards during a trip to Ohio and many people were struggling in the aftermath of the closure the mine.

Visitors to Asbestos can explore the heritage on its three trails. The Townships Trail explores the traces of culture American, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers left in the architecture of the homes, churches, covered bridges, round barns and village centers

Visitors to Asbestos can explore the heritage on its three trails. The Townships Trail explores the traces of culture American, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers left in the architecture of the homes, churches, covered bridges, round barns and village centers

The Moulin 7 Microbrasserie brew pub that honors the town's heritage by naming drinks after the area - Mineur (miner)

The Moulin 7 Microbrasserie brew pub that honors the town’s heritage by naming drinks after the area – Mineur (miner)

Customers sit inside Moulin 7 Microbrasserie, brew pub that honors the town's heritage,  on February 9, 2018. Locals have struggled in the aftermath of the closure the mine

Customers sit inside Moulin 7 Microbrasserie, brew pub that honors the town’s heritage,  on February 9, 2018. Locals have struggled in the aftermath of the closure the mine

Visitors to Asbestos can explore the heritage on its three trails; English Tea, Fall Colours and Christmas Markets. They look at the unique American and British heritage of the Eastern Townships through its landscapes and local hospitality.

Plus the Townships Trail explores the traces of culture American, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers left in the architecture of the homes, churches, covered bridges, round barns and village centers.

The area is also known for its Nordic spas, four seasons hiking, cross-country ski trails, plus gourmet food and mineral festivals. 

Outdoorsy people enjoy the 25-year-old La Route verte bike path (3,291 miles) along the coast, plus camping at l’Ouiseau Blu, which has a golf course and lake swimming. The latter area is home to Fromagerie l’Ouiseau Blu restaurant which serves Latin American cheeses.

The second main restaurant, Moulin 7 Microbrasserie, honors the town’s heritage by naming drinks after the area – eg. Mineur (miner).

There are two accommodations; the 2-star Complexe Hotelier Le Williams with 25 rooms and 4-star Centre 03 with 24 rooms.  

The area is known for its various relaxing Nordic spas which offer privacy indoors or the option of outdoor views

The area is known for its various relaxing Nordic spas which offer privacy indoors or the option of outdoor views

People enjoy the camping sites of l'Ouiseau Blu which has a golf course and lake swimming

People enjoy the camping sites of l’Ouiseau Blu which has a golf course and lake swimming

It was expected that the name changing process would cost around $100,000.

‘There is really a negative perception around asbestos,’ Mayor Hugues Grimard told CBC.

‘We have lost businesses that don’t want to establish themselves here because of the name.’

According to the town’s website, residents are known for being ‘transparent’ and this personality trait is even represented in its Azalea logo which features heart-shaped petals overlapping each other to portray this.

The various colors of the petals represent the diversity of people, services, activities offered and economic sectors.

Asbestos is said to be oriented towards sustainable development, offering services adapted to the needs of its citizens. 

Approximately half of the town's 6,800 residents (2,796) turned out for a parking lot-based car vote

Approximately half of the town’s 6,800 residents (2,796) turned out for a parking lot-based car vote

The results were announced Monday by Mayor Hugues Grimard with the winning name garnering 51.5 percent of the votes

The results were announced Monday by Mayor Hugues Grimard with the winning name garnering 51.5 percent of the votes

This October 7, 2011 image shows a piece of extracted serpentine, which contains Chrysotile Asbestos fibers. Quebec once produced half of the world's asbestos and offered the highest-paying mining jobs in Canada before concern about cancer led to the fire-resistant fiber being banned in more than 50 countries, with the mine finally shutting down in 2012

This October 7, 2011 image shows a piece of extracted serpentine, which contains Chrysotile Asbestos fibers. Quebec once produced half of the world’s asbestos and offered the highest-paying mining jobs in Canada before concern about cancer led to the fire-resistant fiber being banned in more than 50 countries, with the mine finally shutting down in 2012

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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