French and Riviera News Friday 21st May 2021

News 

European Health Pass - EU member states have reached an agreement on the European health pass, which should enter into force from July 1st. The certificate is intended to provide a harmonized framework to facilitate travel within the Union this summer. The document will contain a QR code indicating that its holder has been vaccinated, has passed a negative rapid PCR or antigen test or is immune after being infected with Covid. It may be available on smartphones but also in paper version.

Vaccination open to all adults in France from May 31st - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that vaccination will be open to all adults regardless of age or state of health from May 31st. The opening up of vaccination to all adults was previously scheduled to take place from June 15th. He also said that vaccination would be opened to people in "priority professions" such as teachers, regardless of age, as from this coming Monday, May 24th.

The Prime Minister called for people to act responsibly after the re-opening of terraces on Wednesday. He said that "nobody wants to close the terraces" and that it's "in our common interest to respect the rules".

Regarding the summer sales, Jean Castex said that the government is considering changing dates of the sales on a territorial basis. Last year, the sales dates were postponed by several weeks, leading to complaints from retailers in certain areas.

All aboard - Meanwhile passionate about trains since his youth, thanks to the Toulouse-Paris night train, Castex took advantage of the relaunch of the Paris Nice night train on Thursday evening, which is scheduled to arrive in Nice this morning. The line which has not been in service for over three years resumed on Thursday May 20th with the Prime Minister welcoming passengers on board. The Intercités Paris-Nice, will connect the two cities every day, in both directions, with six stops including Marseille, Toulon and Cannes.

Research into use of nicotine patches to treat Covid- French medical researchers are studying the possible positive effects of using nicotine patches for Covid patients. It was in the first few months of the health crisis that doctors treating patients around the world noticed that there were fewer smokers among their most serious cases. Some suggested the “nicotine in cigarettes could be slowing down the virus”.

The so-called ‘smokers' paradox' was observed in China, and in studies around the world, one of the first was a French study that found that out of 11,000 hospitalised patients, only 8.5 percent were smokers, compared to 25.4 per cent of the general population. This led to questions about why: what is it among the hundreds of chemicals in cigarettes that could be protecting people? The results of the study hope to prove the theory and start leading towards a potential treatment for Covid as currently there is a vaccine, but not a treatment.

Eiffel Tower to reopen in July - The Eiffel Tower is to reopen to the public on July 16th. Closed since October 30th, 2020 due to the health crisis, the Iron lady will welcome up to 10,000 visitors a day this summer, with the ticket office reopening on June 1st.

In other news

French court rules for compensation - A French court has ruled that thousands of victims of defective breast implants manufactured in France should receive compensation. The case was brought by 2,700 women who said they suffered long-term physical and mental health problems after receiving the implants filled with cheap, industrial-grade silicone not cleared for human use. The ruling could have implications for tens of thousands more victims from dozens of countries, from Britain to Latin America.

National day of action - Several unions, associations and political parties in France have called for a day of national action on June 12th "to defend people’s freedoms and in protest against far-right ideas”. La France Insoumise as well as SOS Racisme are amongst those calling for the national day to take place due to what they call an “alarming rise of racist and sexist acts as well as attacks on people’s freedom”.

Two-year-old nearly drowns in private swimming pool - A two-year-old child has been admitted to Lenval hospital in Nice after nearly drowning. The incident occurred at midday on Thursday as emergency services were called to a villa in Vallauris. Ahead of their arrival an adult had managed to pull the child out of the pool which undoubtedly saved his life.

Blue Flag label - Several beaches in the Var and one in the Alpes Maritimes have been awarded the Blue Flag label while seven beaches on the Riviera and two in the Var, have had it withdrawn. The Blue Flag label, created by the Teragir association, has been awarded every year since 1985 to environmentally friendly beaches and ports.

Lancôme - The famous cosmetics and luxury goods brand Lancôme has just harvested its first roses for May, which will be used for their perfumes. Lancôme had acquired the Domaine de la Rose, chemin de Saint-Jean in Grasse last October planting seeds which have this week given the first harvest of the famous May rose.

Business

The chair of the US Federal Reserve has turned up the heat on cryptocurrencies after saying they pose risks to financial stability. Jerome Powell indicated that greater regulation may be necessary warning that’s cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and other innovations may also carry potential risks to those users and to the broader financial system. Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department raised concerns that wealthy individuals could use the largely unregulated sector to avoid tax and said that big crypto asset transfers must be reported to authorities. The back-to-back announcements came as bitcoin trading experienced wild swings this week with China announcing new curbs on the sector underscoring volatility. Jerome Powell said that the Fed would release a discussion paper this summer on digital payments with a focus on benefits and risks of establishing a central-bank digital currency.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment dropped further below 500,000 last week although employment data for early May showed a rise in the jobless total. The conflicting data could temper expectations for an acceleration in employment growth this month. Analysts say the figures suggest a reduction in layoffs and a slowing in hiring which could be explained by a reduction in labour supply. Republicans say that generous benefits are a deterrent to work but some economists disagree. Fresh data next week should help to establish a clearer picture on the employment situation in the United States when the figures on the number of people continuing to receive benefits after an initial claim are published.

UK government ministers have met to discuss concerns about how a zero tariffs free trade deal with Australia would affect the country’s farmers. The International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said that negotiators are “in a spirit” to secure an agreement in principle by early June. However, the National Farmers’ Union has warned of irreversible damage from a bad deal and the cabinet is reported to be split. There are fears that huge Australian cow and sheep farms could undercut UK rivals. The government is keen to strike trade deals following Brexit and has indicated that the agricultural sector may have to prepare for the lowering of tariffs on exports. The National Farmers’ Union has urged m