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Unfazed by virus, Parisians throw off their masks for mid-summer music festival

Issued on: 22/06/2020 – 16:26Modified: 22/06/2020 – 16:26

Social distancing and face masks were la..

Issued on: 22/06/2020 – 16:26Modified: 22/06/2020 – 16:26

Social distancing and face masks were largely forgotten as thousands of French people danced and partied well into Monday in the first big blow out since the coronavirus lockdown.

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The annual midsummer Festival of Music usually brings millions of people out onto the streets across the country for impromptu concerts in cafes and on street corners that go on long into the night.

And despite emergency measures that ban gatherings of more than 10 people, thousands thronged the trendy Canal Saint Martin and the Marais districts of Paris late Sunday to dance and sing along to bands and DJs.

Not even heavy showers could dampen spirits, with few beyond those serving spicey merguez sausages from street stalls bothering to wear masks.

“The Festival of Music is important, it's a national event,” 28-year-old reveller Violette told AFP as she boogied to a band in northern Paris.

And she laughed at the idea that people would be strictly respecting social distancing.

“Not at all,” she said.

Authorities too lax

But many who watched the crowds on the streets were horrified, taking to social media to voice fears of a second wave of infections.

“What a brilliant idea! A Festival of Music just as we are going out of a major health emergency,” one Twitter user commented.

Although none of the usual big set-piece extravaganzas were held beyond what French electronic music legend Jean-Michel Jarre had billed as the world's first live virtual “avatar” concert, many felt the authorities had been too lax.

A senior doctor at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, where many Covid-19 sufferers are still being treated, criticised the decision to let the festival go ahead.

“This is not what a gradual end to the lockdown looks like,” said Dr. Gilbert Deray.

“I understand that the Festival of Music is something of a liberation, but did we really have to have it this year?”

Cinemas reopen

Cinemas also reopened in France on Monday for the first time since the lockdown began in March.

The 5 Caumartin cinema in Paris opened one minute after midnight for a red-carpet chaRead More – Source

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Europe

Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in ..

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in France that the legendary Victor Hugo once provocatively wrote: “God made only water – but man made wine”. Aside from being a staple at many family dinner tables, wine is also a massive European industry – and one thats going through its own coronavirus-induced crisis. This in a sector that was already battling against 25% tariffs imposed by Donald Trump in 2019 that have seen exports slump.

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Up to one third of French vineyards are believed to be in potential danger – in a sector that employs around 700,000 people in France alone.

FRANCE 24 has been investigating how winemakers have been coping – as some say they might end up forced to give up altogether.

Vincent Bouzereau, winemaker: "I think were going to have to pick up the pieces. We are all going to pay. I always say to my children, 'we can always tear up a vine, and put sheep out to graze, and then we can eat the sheep'.”

"We are farmers – thats where we began, as farmers."

Aubert Lefas, winemaker and secretary-general of the Bourgogne winemakers confederation warns that small family vineyards will go under as they do not have the resources to pay for wages and outgoings.

"If their land is valuable, theyll be sold to big international groRead More – Source

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Europe

Child sex abuse warning as coronavirus school closures continue

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:33

Child sex abuse offenders are “taking advantage” of the coronavirus ..

Issued on:

Child sex abuse offenders are "taking advantage" of the coronavirus pandemic to make and share more abusive material online. That warning from Catherine De Bolle, head of European law enforcement agency Europol. In an interview with FRANCE 24, she explains that with millions of children at home, many are going unsupervised, using outdated and poorly secured software which leaves them at greater risk from exploitation.

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"You have to be aware, when your child goes on the internet, the child has access to the world – but also the world has access to your child. You have to be aware of this, and you have to protect your child in this situation."

Catherine De Bolle says that organised criminals have exploited the pandemic in other areas too, with a "huge impact" on cyber crime; with counterfeit and sub-standard goods, and property crime also singled out.

The Europol Executive Director also cautions for the coming months of economic crisis in Europe, saying that the end of the pandemic will not be the end of pandemic-related crime.

"We are convinced that criminal organisations will try to make profit out of the pandemic, long after the pandemic. They will make use of the economic downturn, they will make use of economic sectors in difficulty, like tourism,Read More – Source

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Europe

Brexit talks resume in London after Brussels round leaves serious divergences

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 05:24

Britain's separation talks with the European Union resume Monda..

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 05:24

Britain's separation talks with the European Union resume Monday with few signs of compromise on a new trade agreement and time running out to avoid a messy split.

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London will host EU negotiator Michel Barnier after a round of face-to-face talks ended a day early last week in Brussels because of deep divides in the sides' approach.

Barnier said after ending the negotiations last Thursday that "serious divergences remain".

His UK counterpart David Frost said there were "significant differences" that meant the sides were still searching for basic "principles underlying an agreement".

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said upon taking over help of the EU's rotating presidency Wednesday that both her country and the 27-nation bloc "should prepare for the case that an agreement is not reached".

Britain followed through on the results of a 2016 EU membership referendum and officially pulled out of the bloc in January after nearly half a century.

But a standstill transition period that ends on December 31 allows the UK to effectively function as if it were still a member.

London and Brussels are supposed to agree on new trade terms in the meantime that prevent ties from reverting to the minimum standards – and accompanying high tariffs and quotas – of the World Trade Organisation.

British businesses fear that possibility and want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give them guidance as soon as possible about whether a trade deal is feasible or not.

This would give them a chance to trigger costly contingency planning aimed at disrupting trade and business activity as little as possible.

But EU officials feel much less pressure to strike a quick agreement and are suggesting that one could still be done by late October.

Litany of disputes

Brussels has shrugged off Johnson's repeated threats to walk away and accept very distant relations with the bloc that complicated trade Read More – Source

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