Delta variant - Fears of a 4th wave of the pandemic in France are growing as the delta variant continues to sweep across the country and the government urges the public to get vaccinated. Numbers of cases are almost doubling every two weeks although hospital ICU occupancy remains relatively low at 18 percent. Locally, the under 30s are the most at risk of becoming infected with figures from the Alpes Maritimes showing a surge of 165 percent in positive tests for the 20 to 29 year old age group.
Millions of people across the country are registering for vaccination before the first phase of the government’s health pass regulations come into force. From July 21st, anyone wishing to enter a cinema or theatre will have to produce a valid QR code showing double vaccination or a negative PCR taken in the previous 48 hours before being admitted. From the start of August, use of the pass will be extended to shops, bars, restaurants and other commercial enterprises.
Iberian PCR - Non vaccinated French nationals and others coming into the country from Spain and Portugal will have to show a negative PCR of not more than 24 hours old before being allowed in from this weekend. The French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune says that people returning will not have to isolate but the PCR test will be mandatory as cases of the virus spiral on the Iberian Peninsula.
Economy - The governor of the Banque de France has said that he doesn’t think the introduction of the health pass will have a negative effect on growth. Francois Villeroy de Galhau says that on the contrary, the health pass and by extension an increase in vaccine take up should help to stimulate the economy. Some professional organisations in France have speculated that having to produce a health pass will see people stay away from restaurants and shops but in an interview with France Info Radio, Mr Villeroy de Galhau said that it was in the interest of everyone to “move towards” vaccination which he said would not only protect public health but also jobs.
The governor added that quarterly data from each successive wave of the pandemic showed a gradually lessening impact on the economy and that the biggest threat to growth was not the virus but the difficulty firms are having in recruiting staff. Nearly half of all firms recently surveyed by the bank said that they were having problems attracting employees which Mr Villeroy de Galhau said was “unacceptable" given that unemployment is still at 8 percent.
Cannes 2021 - It’s the final day of competition at the 74th Cannes Film Festival before the jury led by Spike Lee start their deliberations on who should be awarded the Palme d’Or. There was drama near the Palais des Festivals on Thursday when the bomb squad had to be called in following the discovery of a suspicious bag in the baggage storage area near the Casino. The area was evacuated and sealed off while officers examined the suspect item and then destroyed it safely.
The final two movies screening in the Palme d’Or competition today are “Les Intranquilles” or “The Restless”, a Belgium drama from director Joachim Lafosse which deals with the struggles of a couple one of whom suffers from bipolar disorder. The final movie is the Australian drama-thriller “Nitram” directed by Justin Kurzel. Caleb Landry Jones stars as “Nitram” who lives with his parents in 1990’s suburban Australia and doesn’t fit in until he strikes up a friendship with reclusive heiress Helen, played by Judy Davis. The closing ceremony takes place at the Palais des Festivals tomorrow night.
Beaches closed - All the beaches in St Laurent du Var had to be closed on Thursday following a fire at a water treatment plant. The fire, which was caused by an electrical fault was brought under control quickly but the entire premises had to be cleaned and ventilated afterwards forcing authorities to close the beaches.
Militant arrested - A suspected Islamist militant has been arrested after bursting into a shop in the old town of Nice and screaming “Allah Akbar” - “God is greatest” on Thursday. The store owner hit the alarm button and a nearby police patrol rushed to the scene on the rue Saint Francois de Paul and apprehended the man who’s now being held in custody. Reports say that the individual had committed similar offences in shops in the area over the past few weeks. The incident came the day after the city of Nice had marked the 5th anniversary of the Bastille Day terrorist atrocity that cost the lives of 86 people.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment fell to a 16-month low last week according to the US Labor Department. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000 for the week ending the 10th of July. However, shortages of staff are frustrating efforts by businesses to meet strong demand for goods and services. Around 9.5 million Americans are officially registered as unemployed but a lack of affordable child care and fears over contracting coronavirus are just two of the reasons being cited as to why employers are having trouble hiring. Other data published on Thursday showed that import prices are rising but may have peaked, giving traction to the central bank’s view that inflation is transitory.
Morgan Stanley has reported better than expected quarterly profits as its investment banking business benefited from record levels of capital market activity that helped to offset a slump in fixed income underwriting. Investment banking revenue rose by 16 percent to 2.38 billion dollars driven by gains on advising on deals and equity underwriting. Net income rose to 3.4 billion dollars in the second quarter up from 3.05 billion in the same period last year. Net revenue was up from 13.9 billion to 14.8 billion. The results cap a strong quarter for US banks after pandemic loan losses failed to materialise and the economy staged a remarkable recovery.
U.K. insurers could soon start to replace written-off or stolen petrol cars with electric vehicles as part of a wide ranging plan to improve sustainability. The Association of British Insurers ABI says that the plans could “herald a new approach “ to the thousands of claims settled each year. Damaged gas boilers could also be replaced with more environmentally friendly models and consumers will be encouraged to accept recycled parts in a bid to speed up the fight against climate change. The ABI believes that it can have a significant impact on improving transport emissions and other environmental issues.
Golf - Its been an exciting start to the Open Championship at Royal St George’s, Sandwich in Kent where Jordan Spieth hit four birdies in a row in a first round 65 but was bettered by a 6 under 64 from Louis Oosthuizen. Brian Harman of the United States shares second place on 5 under with Spieth. A cluster of players including Webb Simpson are on 4 under and many are on 3 under including Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Danny Willett - all of England.
Cycling - It’s just a question of formality now for Tadej Pogacar as he closes in on a second consecutive Tour de France title. The Slovenian emerged victorious at the end of the final mountain stage of the race to Luz Ardiden after leaving his rivals trailing in the dust. Today’s 19th stage is 207 kilometers on the flat between Mourenx and Libourne and could give Mark Cavendish the chance to better the all time record for tour stage wins set by the Belgian legend Eddy Merckx.
Football - Five people have been arrested in connection with the racist abuse of the England players who missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final. Police described the abuse as “utterly vile” and say that enquiries are ongoing and more arrests are likely. The U.K. Football Policing Unit said that it was still working through a significant number of reports of racist abuse.
Formula 1 - First practice takes place for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone later as the new experimental sprint qualifying format is tried out for the first time. There will be a second race in addition to the main event with a so called “sprint qualifying" event tomorrow afternoon that will decide the grid for the main race on Sunday. The starting order for the sprint race which is just over 100 kilometres in length will be set in a normal qualifying session which will follow first practice today. Championship points will be awarded to the top three finishers in the sprint race with 3 for first , 2 for second and 1 for third and the end positions will decide the grid line up for Sunday. Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by 32 points heading into the weekend with a capacity crowd expected at Silverstone and hot, sunny conditions forecast.
Cricket - Two India squad members have tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the 5 match Test series against England. Wicket keeper Rishabh Pant and training assistant Dayanand Garani have both tested positive and are isolating. The India squad has remained in the U.K. following the ICC Test Championship defeat against New Zealand and will enter a bio bubble ahead of the series against England which starts on August the 4th.
Partially cloudy with light variable winds. Top temperatures 24-26 degrees. Overnight lows of 17-21 degrees with clear skies.
The weekend - Clear skies with highs of 27-32 degrees.