French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said that there is "no decline in the epidemic" and the hospital situation is getting worse. Speaking after the Health Defence Council and Council of Ministers meetings today, he said that the number of Covid-19 cases is on "a slightly upward slope" with 22,500 new infections per day, which he said is "a high plateau which does not seem to be sagging". He said that during the Council of Ministers meeting it was decided to ask Prefects to introduce the health pass for shopping centres of over 20,000 square metres in all departments where the incidence rate exceeds 200. In those departments the prefects will also be asked to reinstate the mandatory wearing of masks indoors in places open to the public where the health pass is required. According to the government's Covid-19 Dashboard, as at 8 August the incidence rate was 621.4 in the Alpes-Maritimes and 542.1 in the Var. He added that a vaccination booster campaign for at-risk people will begin in mid-September, with appointments opening at the end of August. Covid-19 testing without a medical prescription will no longer be free of charge from mid-October. Gabriel Attal said that controls at borders will be more firm, "even more drastic" with all travellers from at-risk countries being checked by antigen tests. He said that four million vaccinations are being carried out every week in France, which he said is "an achievement" considering it is a holiday period.
Speaking this morning, President Macron said that the health crisis "is not behind us" and we will will be living with the virus for "several more months". He said that the government's goal is to vaccinate everyone who can be vaccinated. He said that vaccines are what he called "all-risk insurance" against hospitalization, saying that all the vaccines available in France are effective in preventing serious forms of Covid-19. He called the situation in the French islands in the Carribean, where the incidence rate has dramatically increased in recent days, an "emergency scenario", adding that more than 300 volunteer caregivers have now been sent there from mainland France. In a Tweet this afternoon the President said that in several tourist regions, Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur, Occitanie and Corsica, "the incidence rate is on the rise. An increase in hospital pressure is to be feared, with the deprogramming of care and medical evacuations".
A new coronavirus testing location has been opened in Toulon. The Prefect of the Var, along with representatives of the Regional Health Agency, inaugurated the screening booth on the forecourt of Toulon railway station.
A brush fire on land to the west of Nice has been brought under control by firefighters. The blaze broke out early this afternoon near the Nice Lingostiere shopping centre. Smoke could be seen over a wide area. Several dozen firefighters attended the scene backed up by water bombing helicopters.
Ten people have been evacuated from a yacht off the Îles d'Hyères in the Var after it caught fire in the early hours of this morning. The Maritime Prefecture said that the alarm was raised at 4.40am. Three crew members and seven passengers were evacuated from the vessel by emergency services and there were no injuries. The Prefecture said that due to the fire, the yacht broke its anchorage and emergency services towed the boat further out to sea to avoid the fire spreading to the coast, but at no time did the yacht come closer than 700 metres from the coast. It's the second time in two days a serious fire has occurred on board a yacht off the coast of the Var, after a blaze on a boat off Bandol yesterday.
Meteo France have a yellow alert for the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes for high temperatures until at least 4pm tomorrow, Thursday, afternoon. The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Drome departments have been placed on an orange alert.
The Antibes Juan-les-Pins social services have activated a unit to support people who are isolated or fragile during the heatwave. Air-conditioned reception areas have been identified which offer a suitable space in which to cool off and relax. Cooling kits including water and refreshing spray are being distributed to senior citizens and fans can be made available free of charge. The CCAS in Antibes Juan les Pins can be contacted on 04 92 913 913 and there's also a heatwave information service available to everyone on 0 800 06 66 66. The CCAS reminds you that if you feel unwell and you're in France you should call 15.
The funeral has been taking place this afternoon of the French priest who was killed in a monastry in the the Vendee department in the west of France on Monday. A private ceremony was held for Father Olivier Maire in the basilica in the village of Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre.
Heathrow airport has said that further easing of travel restrictions in July resulted in a 74% increase in passengers compared with July 2020. It said that over 1.5 million travellers passed through the airport last month, marking the highest monthly passenger numbers since March 2020. However, passenger numbers are still down over 80% compared to July 2019.
Food delivery company Deliveroo has said demand for its services has strengthened despite Covid restrictions being eased. In its report for the first half of 2021 it said that growth was materially ahead of expectations with Gross Transaction Value up by 102%. The company said that it now has the most food merchants in the UK of all delivery platforms and UK expansion is ahead of plan with 72% population coverage at the end of June.
Football... Paris Saint-Germain held a news conference this morning at which Lionel Messi was unveiled as the club's latest signing. Messi said that he is excited to "begin this new moment" of his life after what he called a "difficult" departure from Barcelona. He said "my goal and my dream is to win the Champions League once more," adding that he thought PSG have the team to do it. Messi scored a record 672 goals in 778 games while he was at Barcelona.
Cricket... Stuart Broad will miss the remainder of England's Test series against India because of injury. A scan performed earlier today has revealed a tear to his right calf.
England and India have each been fined 40% of their match fee for slow over rates in last week's opening Test. The ICC said that both teams were also docked two points from their 2021-23 World Test Championship points tally, leaving them on two points each.