French and Riviera News Friday 6th August 2021

News 

Fatal accident on A8 motorway - The driver of a scooter has been killed after losing control of his vehicle on the A8 motorway. The fatal accident occurred at midday on Thursday August 5th on the notoriously dangerous curve at the Nice bypass, westbound. Police were on site to secure the area as traffic was reduced to two lanes instead of three while emergency services intervened.

Forest fire risk - The Esterel and Tanneron massifs are closed today Friday August 6th, due to the "very severe risk" of forest fires. Météo-France issued the warning and the authorities point out that the use of any form of “fire” is strictly prohibited throughout the Alpes-Maritimes department from July 1st to September 30th.

Health pass - The French Constitutional Council has on Thursday August 5th approved the provisions in the health bill providing for the extension of the health pass and compulsory vaccination for caregivers. The health pass will therefore be mandatory for admission to restaurants and cafes as well as long distance trains. It's expected to take effect from next Monday, 9th August. The Council also confirmed that the provisions of the bill requiring a health pass in certain shopping centres are valid. The Council approved the health pass in hospitals if it isn't "an obstacle" to access to health care. However, the Council has not approved the proposed compulsory ten-day isolation period for those who test positive for Covid-19, saying that it deprived people of their liberty without "an individual decision based on an assessment of administrative or judicial authority". The judges also rejected the proposed early termination of a CDD or interim employment contract for non-presentation of a health pass.

How do you present the health pass?  - Vaccinated people can scan the QR Code displayed on the certificate, which is given after receiving the last dose. Using the TousAntiCovid application it can then be found in the Notebook section. It is also possible to keep the certificate in paper format and should you lose the document it can be retrieved from the "patient" portal of the Health Insurance website. In addition, according to the government website “any health professional can find a vaccination certificate and print it if someone requests it”.

Vacccinated tourists able to request QR Code from Monday - And from Monday August 9th fully vaccinated tourists visiting France will be able to request a QR code to show their vaccination is valid, and use it to enter places such as restaurants, cafes, bars. 

12 to 17 year olds - Anyone aged 12 or over wishing to access one of these places must have a health pass, but given that vaccination has only recently opened to certain parts of the country exemptions have been made and the obligation of the health pass is postponed to August 30th for young people aged 12 to 17, to give them time to be vaccinated if they wish.

How will it work for transport? - The health pass is supposed to be introduced "between August 7th and 10th" for long journeys by train, plane and bus, announced Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, the Minister for Transport. Those by bus, metro, RER or TER are not concerned. The minister announced that the SNCF will propose to "link the health pass" to the passenger's ticket, as Air France and Eurotunnel do, in order to avoid queues. The SNCF has specified that checks will be carried out.

Reactions to health pass - Locally, the President of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Region, Renauld Muselier has said that whatever people think of the Health Pass it will help keep establishments open and we must help our restaurant, cafe owners, culture and leisure professionals to apply it.

Meanwhile Socialist MP Valerie Rabault from the Tarn-et-Garonne and president of the Socialist group in the National Assembly has said that “rules for using the French health pass amount to the government “holding people at gunpoint”. Rabault called for mandatory vaccination for all adults instead of the health pass.

Thursday evening saw several gatherings in protest against the decision in both Paris and Nice with calls for larger demonstrations to take place tomorrow Saturday August 7th.

According to a recent poll 48% of French people disapprove of the demonstrations against the health pass, 37% support them and 15% are indifferent. A majority (over 55%) have declared themselves ready to present this pass if requested, and 61% (against 39%) say they are in favour of compulsory vaccination.

Trafficking of false health passes – Meanwhile police in the Paris region have dismantled several cases of the trafficking of false health passes. In total, ten legal cases are in progress and 14 defendants are to be heard in the Île-de-France. Most are professionals, nurses, doctors, or temporary workers who work in vaccination centers. Other trafficking of this kind has also been dismantled in recent days in Agen, Grenoble and  Bordeaux. The profits from this kind of trafficking can amount to several thousand euros.

Covid vaccine booster - Despite an appeal from the World Health Organisation, to delay third doses of the covid vaccine until more people in poorer countries are vaccinated, Germany and France will reportedly go ahead and begin offering a third covid vaccine booster to the most vulnerable, starting in September.

Clean up - Volunteers and charities have got together to clean up Marseille's beaches, which are littered with cigarette butts, straws, bottles and plastic bags. “Clean My Calanques”, a Marseille-based association is campaigning for the preservation of the environment. Researchers are also sounding the alarm about leaving waste behind because of its impact on young turtles, who are prone to eating plastic as they spend their early years feeding near the sea surface.

Tony Parker in Saint Tropez – Former professional basketball player Tony Parker has caused a stir in Saint Tropez after taking a walk-about in the town. Parker who is a familiar face in Saint Tropez was welcomed by fans.

Business

As new Covid infections surge across America, with daily cases at an average not seen in months, Amazon has told its US corporate staff not to return to the office until next year. The online shopping giant previously asked staff to work from home until 7th September but will now extend this until 3rd January 2022.

It’s been announced that Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is to step down as head of his retail empire and hand it over to his prospective son-in-law. On Thursday the company confirmed the Mr Ashley would leave his role as chief executive of Frasers Group next year, as the business revealed its latest full-year trading figures, which showed a sharp drop in profits as a result of the Covid lockdowns. Mr Ashley will remain on the board as an executive director.

Virgin Galactic said it will open ticket sales on Thursday for space flights starting at $450,000 a seat. The news comes just weeks after founder Richard Branson's high-profile trip to the edge of space. On July 11th Branson travelled more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in the vehicle's first fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 17 years ago.  Shares of the company rose 5% in extended trading on Thursday. In June, Virgin Galactic received approval from the U.S. aviation safety regulator to fly people to space.

Sport 

Tokyo Olympics – 23 medal events are taking place today. Highlights include Women's football which reaches its Olympic final with Sweden taking on Canada. And Lauren Price, who can count the Duke of Cambridge among her fans, is guaranteed a boxing bronze, but can upgrade to a minimum of silver if she wins the women's middleweight semi-finals.

Football - Barcelona say Lionel Messi will not be staying at the club "because of financial and structural obstacles". 24-year-old Messi has been a free agent since 1st July when his contract expired. He agreed a new deal on reduced wages with the club two weeks later, but it was dependent on Barca selling players to afford his salary. The club said that "Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled”.

Cricket - James Anderson led an exhilarating England fightback before the weather curtailed the second day of the first Test against India. Anderson took two wickets in two balls in a thrilling passage of play at Trent Bridge. Warnings are in place over thunderstorms due for today’s play.

Weather

Sunny with highs of 29 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and a fresh breeze. In Saint Tropez and the Var, clear skies highs of 28 degrees with strong winds. This evening going down to 20 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Antibes with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend is mainly fine with some cloudy patches on Saturday and the possibility of showers inland highs of 29-31 degrees.

And Finally 

A milkman in the UK was given an early morning wake-up call when he was dramatically arrested by police who had mistaken him for a burglar because he was 'driving around so early in the morning'.  The milkman had been carrying out his morning rounds at around 5am on Wednesday when he noticed the police. He initially thought nothing of it but then realised they were following his milk van. 

He immediately rang his boss to say he thought he was going to be pulled over, and he was. But after a brief questioning he was allowed to continue on his route - only to be arrested while stopping for coffee a mere 15 minutes later, as three police cars swooped in and pulled him out of his vehicle. Mr Gibson described the whole ordeal as 'crazy'.

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