Evening Update Thursday 22 July

The Prefect of the Var has decided to make the wearing of a mask outdoors mandatory in 58 municipalities of the department. The requirement comes into force tomorrow, 23 July and applies until 2 August. The Prefecture said that the 58 municipalities are located on the inter-municipal coastline as well as those of the Gapeau Valley and the Pays de Fayence. It said that the measure has been taken in view of the marked deterioration in epidemiological indicators, in particular in the coastal municipalities and those of the Gapeau valley and the Pays de Fayence. A prefectural decree makes it compulsory for anyone aged eleven and over to wear a mask in all public places, including on roads, as well as along the promenade and seafront, Further details and the list of municipalities concerned can be found on the Prefecture's website www .var.gouv.fr

Meanwhile, the Monaco government has announced this evening that the wearing of masks will be mandatory for anyone over 5 years of age throughout the Principality from this Saturday July 24. The government also said that the obligation to present a health pass to access restaurants and bars in Monaco will now be extended to residents of the Alpes-Maritimes and the Italian province of Impéria. This measure comes into effect from this Saturday July 24. The exemption to this rule is still maintained, at this stage, for residents of the Principality as well as employees.

French Minister of Labor Elisabeth Bourne has announced that a committee is being established to organize an income scheme for young unemployed or untrained people. President Macron said earlier this month that he would announce full details of the scheme at the beginning of the school year. The committe will have 15 members, consisting of elected officials, representatives of associations and government bodies.

The French National Assembly has resumed its examination of the controversial health bill today. Amongst other measures, the bill aims to make vaccination compulsory for caregivers and extends the use of the health pass. Responding to a question in the debate regarding why the health pass is mandatory for outdoor parts of certain venues, Health Minister Olivier Veran said that "with the delta variant, when you are infected you spit out the virus all the time".

An exceptional defense council meeting was held at the Elysees this morning. It's believed that it was convened to discuss recent allegations that foreign governments may have hacked the mobile phones of government officials, including President Macron.

A fire has broken out in undergrowth near Bar-sur-Loup in the Alpes-Maritimes this afternoon. Reports say that at least 1,000 square meters has been consumed by the blaze which is being fought by 50 firefighters backed up by water bombing helicopters.

The body of a woman has been discovered in the mountains of the Hautes-Alpes. It's thought that the remains may be those of one of three hikers who went missing in the region in 2015. Reports say that the results of a DNA test are awaited to establish the woman's identity.



Retail footfall in the UK saw a weekly increase of 3%, in the week to 17 July, its first rise since the beginning of June. However, figures from data company Springboard show that footfall was still only 75% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

There's growing concern in the UK regarding the increasing numbers of business staff who are having to self-isolate because they have been "pinged" by the NHS Covid-19 app. The app alerts users when they have been in contact with someone suffering from the virus. Businesses want people who have been double vaccinated or have daily tests to be able to return to work. Speaking to the BBC this morning, the managing director of frozen food retailer Iceland said there is no need for people to start panic buying, but has warned that the rising number of retail workers being forced to self-isolate risks shops being closed.

New figures show that airline flights in the UK increased last week but are still far below pre-pandemic levels. Air traffic control organization Eurocontrol said that in the week to 18 July 2021, the seven-day average number of daily flights increased by 6% from the previous week but are only 37% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

The UK government has announced that it intends to sell part of its shareholding in NatWest Group. The shares will be sold over a 12 month period with sales starting on 12 August at the earliest and ending no later than 11 August next year. Following two share sales earlier this year, the UK government has a 54.7% shareholding in NatWest Group, which it bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis when it was known as Royal Bank of Scotland. 



Rugby League ... Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the Rugby League World Cup in England this autumn because of "player welfare and safety concerns" related to Covid-19. The Australian Rugby League Commission and New Zealand Rugby League have asked organizers if the tournament can be rescheduled for 2022. New Zealand Rugby League chief Greg Peters said it was "simply too unsafe" to take part.

Tennis .... Andy Murray will begin his Tokyo Olympics campaign against Wimbledon quarter finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime. Murray, who won gold at the two previous Olympics, has had two hip operations and previously lost to the 20-year-old Canadian in straight sets at the US Open last year.

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