French and Riviera News Friday July 30th 2021

News

Infections - The government says that it is particularly concerned about rising COVID-19 infections in Mediterranean resorts. Numbers have been increasing rapidly this week and local authorities have been introducing new regulations to stop large numbers of people congregating in public places such as beaches. Young adults continue to be most at risk from infection but cases are rising rapidly in all age groups and pressure on hospital services is increasing. The government spokesman Gabriel Attal says that the 4th wave is of particular concern in resort towns from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast. The Alpes Maritimes now has the second highest infection rate anywhere in Metropolitan France.

On Thursday the regional health authority said the infection rate had risen to 656 per 100,000 people. 22 more patients suffering from the virus were admitted to the department’s hospitals yesterday bringing the total number of people receiving treatment to 161, an increase of 20 percent on last week. 21 people are receiving intensive care treatment.

Anti Vax-Anti-Pass - Another large demonstration by people opposed to Covid-19 vaccination and the government’s health pass is expected in Nice tomorrow. Last Saturday around 6,000 people protestors took part in a march along the promenade des Anglais and there were several violent incidents as police were forced to intervene to stop people gaining access to the Voie Rapide. The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes says that peaceful protest is a democratic right but violence will not be tolerated. Extra police will be on duty in the city tomorrow.

Black Saturday - The busiest weekend on the roads so far this summer is forecast as July and August holidaymakers make long distance journeys. The French road monitor Bison Fute has dubbed tomorrow as “Black Saturday” and has urged motorists to put long distance trips off until Sunday or even Monday if possible. The A8 motorway is expected to be saturated with traffic starting to build from this afternoon. Sunday should be a little better but still busy while Monday will be a lot easier.

Minister charged - The French Minister for Small Business is to appear in court in September on charges of concealing inheritance and interest. Alain Griset denies the charges. He’s accused of not fully declaring an inheritance and interest paid on stock options amounting to 171,000 euros. Mr Griset is not the first Minister to face legal problems in the government of President Macron. Several high ranking politicians including the Interior Minister Gerard Darminin and the Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti are currently under investigation over allegations of rape and corruption respectively.

IKEA - The new IKEA store at the plaine du Var opposite the Stade Allianz Riviera should be open in the spring of 2022. The massive construction will have a surface area of 32,000 square meters with a further 16,675 square meters dedicated to housing and 1,868 square meters of office space. The interior of the store will start to be fitted in December and there will be parking for 2,000 vehicles. The completion of the new store has been delayed, notably by strike action and the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. The development will save residents of the Alpes Maritimes a trip to Toulon or Marseille and also cut delivery charges.

Monaco - Monaco police are to be equipped with smartphones to check health passes. Speaking on Monaco Info TV, the Monaco director of police Richard Marangoni said the move is intended to make sure that residents and visitors alike are offered the maximum protection possible from COVID-19. Visitors to Monaco from the Alpes Maritimes, the Var and the Imperia region of Italy must be in possession of a valid health pass before being allowed into bars and restaurants. The requirement will be extended to residents and Monaco workers next month. Police have been operating a number of road blocks to make sure that visitors are in possession of the correct documents.

A number of fines have also been issued for non compliance with the wearing of face masks in outdoor areas. Meanwhile, Monaco is rolling out vaccination for people aged 40 and over who work in the Principality. The 50 and over age group has already been vaccinated and now anyone aged 40 and over who works in Monaco and wishes to be vaccinated is asked to call 92 05 55 00 to take an appointment and the National Vaccination Centre at the Auditorium Rainier III. People attending vaccination appointments should take their ID and Monaco work permit with them.

Business

The US economy grew steadily in the second quarter but the pace was below expectations as consumer spending and business investments were slowed amid supply chain problems. US GDP grew at an annualised rate of 6.5% in the second quarter according to the Commerce Department. First quarter growth was revised down to 6.3% from the previously reported 6.4%. Economists had forecast GDP of 8.5% but the expansion is nevertheless solid and set to remain so for the remainder of 2021. Growth of around 7% is expected for the rest of the year which would be the best performance since 1984. However, supply chain disruption is lagging expansion with many businesses finding it hard to replenish stocks and a drop in inventories taking 1.13 percent off GDP.

MasterCard has reported by 36% rise in the second quarter profit, comfortably beating estimates and underpinned by a recovery in global spending. The upbeat results rounded off a positive quarter for payment processors including Visa and American Express. MasterCard’s cross-border volumes which track spending on its cards beyond the country of issue rose by 58% driven by a pick up in international travel. Net income rose to $1.9 billion from 1.4 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.75 billion.

Lloyds Banking Group has swung back into profit and reinstated dividends after receding risks from the pandemic helped to improve the economic outlook. The UK’s biggest retail bank said that pre-tax profits across the group rose to 2 billion pounds in the second quarter in a sharp turnaround from the 676 million pound loss that it reported at the same time last year. The profits beat analysts expectations of 1.2 billion. Lloyds Banking Group owns the Halifax as well as Bank of Scotland. It said that the improving economic outlook meant that it would be able to reintroduce dividend payments worth 67 pence per share.

Sport

Olympics – The hosts Japan continue to enjoy success in the medals table and are second in the race for gold behind China with the USA in third. Australia and the Russian Olympic Committee athletes are also doing well while team GB are yet to add to their gold medal tally. France and Germany are picking up and there have been gold medals too for Italy, Netherlands and Canada. There are 21 metal events on day seven today including in archery, cycling, fencing, rowing, swimming and table tennis. Meanwhile, the first track and field events start today with qualifying in the men’s high jump and discus along with the early rounds of the women’s 800m, men’s 400m hurdles and women’s 100m.

Rugby Union – The scene is set for the second Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town. The Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has again caused controversy after releasing an hour long video monologue complaining about the refereeing in last weekend’s series opener. South Africa rugby is reported to have been unaware about the video before it was released. World Rugby has said that it is examining the content of the video closely. The match kicks off at 6pm tomorrow. Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand will be in charge with last week’s referee Nic Berry of Australia and Mathieu Raynal of France as his assistants and Marius Jonker of South Africa the TMO again.

Formula One – Practice for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix is taking place today as the battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton resumes. There is a certain amount of bad blood between the drivers now as they battle it out for control of the world championship. Verstappen was aggrieved by what he saw as Hamilton’s aggression at the British Grand Prix which led to him crashing out at high speed. At a hearing on Thursday, race officials rejected Red Bull’s demand for an increased penalty to be imposed on the 7 time world champion after ruling that there was “no new evidence”. Hamilton and Mercedes have put it down to a racing incident but there could be more fireworks at the front this weekend. Second practice is at 3 pm with qualifying at 3 pm tomorrow and the race at 3 pm on Sunday. Verstappen has just an eight point lead over Hamilton at the top of the drivers championship.

Weather

Fine in coastal areas, some thunder inland later and light to moderate south easterly winds. Top temperatures 28-30 degrees on the coast, up to 34 degrees inland in the Var. Overnight lows of 20-23 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend - Sunshine and showers developing with some more persistent rain on Saturday night. Fine on Sunday. Highs of 26 degrees tomorrow and 28-30 degrees on Sunday.

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