Massive fire engulfs factory in Rouen, France

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019   •   372

A large fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday (September 26) at a French factory in the northern port city of Rouen, local authorities said.

Authorities added there were no reported victims at this stage.

The fire at the factory of Lubrizol – a company that makes specialty chemicals – had started around 0240 local time (0040 GMT).

Video shared with Reuters showed the emergency services arriving at scene of the blaze at the factory.

Other videos on social media showed thick plume of smoke seen from miles away from the site.

Around 130 firefighters were currently tackling the blaze at the site, and a security cordon had been put in place. (Reuters)

(Production: Nur-Azna Sanusi)

Renault closes site, restructures factories in France in bid to slash costs

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

PART MUST ON-SCREEN COURTESY RENAULT.

Renault said on Friday (May 29) it was launching talks with unions to restructure several French car plants, as it confirmed plans to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide and the closure of one France plant.

Faced with a slump in demand that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, Renault is aiming to find 2 billion euros ($2.22 billion) in savings over the next three years as it shrinks production and hones in on key car models.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Interim Chief Executive Clotilde Delbos said 4,600 jobs in France are in peril of being cut.

Renault Group Board of Directors Chair Jean-Dominique Senard hailed the cost-reduction plan to be both “defensive” and “offensive,” as he announced the closure of the Choisy-le-Roi factory, which manufactures motors, the sole plant to halt activity out of Renault’s 14 plant sites.

Senard said though that the Caudan site in Brittany, which was also threatened of closing will maintain operations, adding that Renault is working with the regional government to think about the future of the plant. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

Your bubble is ready: plastic pods offer solution for COVID dining in France

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

For restaurateurs worrying how they can welcome back customers but keep them safe from COVID-19, a French designer has a solution: an oversized lampshade made of transparent plastic that encases a customer’s head as they eat.

The cylindrical device hangs from a cable on the ceiling, much like a lampshade, and has a scoop cut out of the back so that a diner can sit down and get back up without having to bend over double.

The designer behind the invention, Christophe Gernigon, said designs that are already on the market looked like booths in prison visiting rooms, so were not inviting for customers.

“I wanted to make it more glamorous, more pretty,” he said. His design will go into production next week, and he said he had received interest from France, Belgium, Canada, Japan and Argentina.

France is starting to relax some of the restrictions it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Shops and hairdressers have re-opened, and some children are back at school.

But the government has yet to give the green light for the re-opening of restaurant and bars, which have been hit hard financially by the crisis, because they pose particular problems for disease control.

The Plex’Eat accessory will be produced by French company Sitour, with an average of 10,000 unit produced weekly, Sitour sales officer France de Souza said.

It will cost around 150 euros a piece, de Souza said, although the price is not yet fixed.

Diners cannot eat while wearing a surgical mask, and if tables were removed to ensure customers are a safe distance from each other, many owners say they would not be able to make enough money to cover their costs.

Mathieu Manzoni, owner of the H.A.N.D restaurant that serves American-style food not far from Paris’ Louvre museum, invited Gernigon to the restaurant this week to hear his pitch. Manzoni said he was planning to place an order.

“Will people like it? I can’t say but I want to believe that it can add something because I find it fun,” he said in his restaurant, which is open for takeaway orders only. (Reuters)

(Production: Noemie Olive, Antony Paone, Emilie Delwarde)

France to reopen on Monday, Paris region to unwind lockdown more slowly

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

France is ready to start unwinding its coronavirus lockdown from next Monday as planned, the prime minister said on Thursday (May 7), although some regions including the Paris area where the disease is still circulating would keep some restrictions.

The country has made enough progress in slowing down the spread of the virus and reducing strain in hospitals to gradually return to normal, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference. Schools, cafes and most shops have been shut for nearly two months.

Beyond the Paris area, administrative regions around Calais, Strasbourg and Dijon will also remain classified as “red zones”, where some restrictions will remain – such as keeping parks, gardens and secondary schools shut.

In other parts of France, secondary schools, cafes and restaurants may open from early June if the infection rate remains low, Philippe said.

In Paris, commuters will need permission forms from their employers to use the metro or buses at peak hours and across France the wearing of masks on public transport will be compulsory and enforced by a fine of 135 euros.

Next week, about 1 million children and 130,000 teachers will return to school, the education minister said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that following the lifting of the lockdown the country’s borders would remain closed until further notice.

Philippe said on Thursday that the government would reinforce restrictions if the spread of the new coronavirus accelerated again.

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in France was up 178 or 0.7% to 25,987 on Thursday, the lowest rate of increase in four days. (Reuters)

(Production: Johnny Cotton)

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