Evening Update Wednesday 21 July 2021

21,000 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in France in the past 24 hours according to French Health Minister Olivier Veran. The figure stood at 18,000 yesterday and the new number is about three times the daily levels recorded last week. Speaking in the National Assembly, where deputies are debating the text of the health bill, he said that there had also been an increase in hospitalisations with almost 1,400 patients entering hospital in the last seven days.

Speaking in a television interview this afternoon French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that "we are in the fourth wave". He said that braking measures could be taken if necessary at the local level such as mask wearing or the closing of establishments open to the public at 11pm. He also stated that people who have been fully vaccinated will no longer be classed as contact cases and the Minister of Health will be sending out instructons accordingly. The Prime Minister said that the government has established a target of 50 million first injections by the end of August. Regarding the Health Pass, he said that cafes and restaurants won't be carrying out checks on the identity of customers who have a health pass, only that the customer actually has a Health Pass.

The first phase of the health pass regulations came into force today with cinemas, theatres, fitness centres and other culture and leisure facilities where more than 50 people are present required to demand proof of double vaccination or a negative covid test before admittance is granted. 12-17 year olds are exempt from the new regulations until the the end of August. The second phase of the new regulations covering restaurants, bars and long distance train and bus services will come into force at the beginning of August.

The Mayor of Villenueuve-Loubet, Lionel Lucca, has announced that all shows in the summer season will be cancelled because of the introduction of the Health Pass. Speaking to France Bleu this morning he denounced a measure which he said "created two categories of citizens in a country which has constantly demanded equality". The mayor said that "it's is not a dictatorship but we can call it an" illiberal" democracy, a bit like the Hungary of Viktor Orban so often decried in France". He said that he himself is vaccinated but denounced what he called a "police society" indicating that in Villeneuve Loubet there would not be a "society with good and bad citizens". He said that "most of our citizens are not vaccinated" and he was therefore completely cancelling the shows. He indicated that the local municipal police will continue to carry out their role of mediation "but it is out of the question to control and impose fines".

The Monaco government statistics agency, IMSEE, has published a report on the impact of the health crisis covering data for the month of June. As of 1 July the total number of Covid-19 cases in the principlaity since the beginning of the epidemic reached 2,580, including 1,705 cases in 2021 against 875 for the whole of 2020. It said that the cases recorded in June are younger than seen during the epidemic as a whole with 60% of cases being under 30 years old. Twenty-four new positive cases were detected yesterday and 77 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

The Var has been placed on vigilance for ozone pollution today. Health and behaviour recommendations for vulnerable and sensitive people, as well as regular updates on air quality levels, are available on the website https://www.atmosud.org/

 

BUSINESS

The chairman of Marks & Spencer Archie Norman has said that the retailer is cutting Christmas products in Northern Ireland due to concerns over forthcoming post-Brexit customs checks. Speaking to the BBC, he called for a "common sense approach to enforcement".  Currently, supermarkets which send products to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK face only light-touch checks, under a so-called "grace period" which is scheduled to finish at the end of September.

UK public sector net borrowing in June is estimated to have been the second-highest figure for June since monthly records began in 1993. However, it was £5.5 billion less than in June last year. Central government receipts in June were estimated to have been £62.2 billion, which is £9.5 billion more than in June 2020 with the UK economy recovering after the easing of coronavirus measures. The Office for National statistics said that public sector net debt at the end of June was about 99.7% of GDP, which is the highest figure since March 1961.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... It's been confirmed that Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday. Head coach Warren Gatland said picking the squad was "incredibly difficult" and was by far the hardest Test selection in his four tours as a Lions coach.

Cricket... Ollie Robinson has been included in the England squad for the first two Tests against India which get underway on 4 August. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow are both included while Chris Woakes is out because of injury and Jofra Archer is still recovering from surgery.

Olympics... Three more athletes have been ruled out of the games because of positive Covid-19 tests. Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs and Chilean taekwondo athlete Fernanda Aguirre now won't be taking part. British athlete Amber Hill has also withdrawn after testing positive. Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has backed the staging of the Olympics, telling International Olympic Committee members that "the mark of success in the coming fortnight is not zero cases" but is making sure that any cases are "identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted".

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