French and Riviera News Monday 2nd August 2021

News

Gas, electricity, sanitary pass, restaurant vouchers… What has changed on August 1st - Changes are expected at the start of this month with gas and electricity prices continuing to rise, as will the price of parking in Paris. But the month will be especially marked by the expansion of the health pass to many places including restaurants and bars.

New increases in electricity and gas prices - After a 10% increase in July, gas prices will continue to increase. As of August 1st, the regulated sales tariff (TRV) for natural gas sold by Engie will register a further increase of 5.3%. About 3.1 million residential consumers (out of a total of 10.7 million) are expected to be affected by the tariff change.

It’s the same for electricity prices with Engie's "blue" tariffs increasing significantly for residential and business customers. This should result in an increase of 4 euros for individuals and 6 euros for professionals. An increase denounced by unions.

The health pass looks set to be extended to bars and restaurants -  Since July 21st, the health pass is requested in all cultural and leisure places which have a capacity of more than 50 people. From the beginning of August, it is expected to be required to enter a restaurant or a bar (even on the terrace and regardless of the number of customers), but also in transport (such as trains or planes). The SNCF is preparing for widespread checks as soon as the measure comes into effect. Recently, the government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, recalled that a "running-in period" will be put in place for the control of the sanitary pass. The measure, requested by the French government, was adopted by Parliament as part of the health law, but it will be necessary to wait until August 9th for it to come into force. Ahead of which, the text must receive a favorable decision from the Constitutional Council, which is to be ruled on August 5th.

Restaurant vouchers - 2020 restaurant vouchers will no longer be valid at the end of the month so It's time to use them! If you have vouchers dated 2020, you only have this month to use them.

Solidarity fund - It’s also the last month for companies to be able to submit a file for the solidarity fund set up due to the health crisis. Aid requests must be made before August 31st. Thanks to this aid, companies will be able to benefit from compensation of around 40% of the loss of activity in June 2021 compared to June 2019; 30% of the loss of activity in July 2021 compared to July 2019; and 20% for the month of August.

The Pass'Sport comes into force. August also sees the arrival of a new back-to-school sports allowance, called Pass'Sport. Which consists of an aid of 50 euros per child to finance sports activities - such as registering for a club or a sports association. The pass is intended for children aged 6 to 18 whose parents receive the back-to-school allowance, as well as minors with disabilities, the Pass'Sport will be sent to families by mail during the summer. According to the government, 3.3 million families should benefit from it.

And the price of parking in Paris is increasing - From Sunday, August 1st, parking prices have changed in Paris, the increase was voted at the beginning of July by the Paris Council.

In other news 

Forest fire - Firefighters in the region have succeeded in extinguishing a forest fire which destroyed two hectares of forest land in Peymeinade. A rapid intervention by firefighters both on land and air saw the blaze brought under control by 7pm on Sunday evening, before it reached nearby houses. With high temperatures and strong winds sweeping the department on Sunday, the Prefecture had warned of the high fire risk.

Meanwhile due to the strong wind on Sunday many beaches between Monaco and Cannes displayed a red flag warning beach goers of a substantial sea swell. Several sea rescue operations were carried out in Antibes as a swimmer got into difficulty and one sunbather was hit by a parasol. 

Today the forest regions of the Var and the Alpes Maritimes have been classified as at a "very severe risk of fire" with access prohibited.

Demonstrations - According to France’s interior ministry, Saturday’s demonstrations across France against the health pass led to 72 arrests, 26 of which were in the French capital. 3 officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators as Saturday July 31st marked the third consecutive Saturday of demonstrations against the health pass which is expected to be implemented on August 9th. More than 200,000 people marched on Saturday July 31st compared to 110,000 who took to the streets on the first call for action on July 17th.

Covid cases reaches record high in Alpes Maritimes - Meanwhile in the Alpes Maritimes region the number of positive Covid cases continues to rise, being at its highest since the beginning of the health crisis, according to figures from the Covid tracker website. While the number of hospital admissions and deaths have in the past been higher than today’s numbers of cases, the incidence rate for the Alpes Maritimes reached a new record as of Saturday July 31st, standing at 728 (as a reminder, this rate is the number of positive cases during a 7 day period, for 100,000 inhabitants).

Hit hard by a 4th wave and the arrival of the Delta variant, the region has experienced 1,122 positive cases of covid from July 22nd to the 28th. This is almost double the number of cases at the end of February. In Cannes, for example, Public Health France reported on July 26th a rate of 1,000 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a record since the start of the epidemic. As of July 28th, this rate was 2,442 among 20-29-year olds.

Vaccination for those under 16 – Meanwhile the vaccination of 12 to 16-year olds against Covid has become a source of conflict between parents as a new law will soon require the consent of only one parent for a child under 16 to be vaccinated. Speaking to French media one husband said that the debate had let to him telling his wife that it was “the vaccine for their children or divorce”.

Since June 15th, the vaccination of 12 to 16 year olds has been subject to the agreement of both parents but with the future health law, which the government intends to see come into force on August 9th following the green light from the Constitutional Council, just one parent will be able to authorise it. (16-17 years old, will not need any authorization).

It was on July 28th the France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced that from the start of the school year, a positive test of a student would lead to an "eviction" for seven days of any unvaccinated students who had been in contact with them, with classes being followed remotely, yet those vaccinated will be able to stay in class.

According to data published on July 28th from Public Health France, 35.5% of 12-17-year olds have received at least a first dose of vaccine.

Confusion over when to get vaccinated after having had covid - There has been recent confusion over when to get vaccinated after having had covid. Indications given by the High Authority of Health in France and those communicated by the French government have differed concerning the minimum time to be vaccinated after being sick.

Back in December, the High Authority for Health (HAS) recommended waiting three months after the symptoms disappear. A few months later, in February, this recommendation was changed due to new data, and the period was extended to six months. But in early June, the official pages of the Department of Health and Insurance echoed a new recommendation saying that vaccination is now recommended after two months. Prefects and directors of regional health agencies (ARS) have since asked for the situation to be clarified.

Study shows that 85% of patients hospitalised for covid have not been vaccinated - A study published recently by the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) has looked at the link between the vaccination status and hospital admissions and, according to the agency, these numbers "reflect the protective effect of vaccination’. Results from the study show that people not vaccinated against Covid represent around 85% of patients hospitalized in France, including in intensive care, and 78% of deaths due to the virus, compared to 7% and 11% for fully vaccinated people.

“Don’t stop social distancing and continue to wear a mask” is the message from authors of new research - “Don’t stop social distancing and continue to wear a mask” is the message from authors of new research which has shown that relaxing restrictions like mask-wearing and social distancing when most people have been vaccinated greatly increases the risk of vaccine-resistant variants of the virus. The authors said their modelling study showed the need to maintain non-vaccination measures until everyone is fully jabbed. Nearly 60 percent of Europeans have received at least one vaccine dose, the model showed that a rapid rate of vaccination reduced the risk of a resistant strain emerging. The authors said that their research highlighted the need to maintain other anti-Covid measures until everyone is vaccinated.

French President to chair health defense council meeting from holiday retreat in the Var - French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to chair the next health defense council meeting by videoconference from his summer retreat of Fort Brégançon. The head of state arrived in Bormes les Mimosa in the Var last week accompanied by his wife Brigitte. As every year since 2018, the Head of State took up his summer quarters at Fort Brégançon. While Macron has planned to indulge in moments of relaxation, he will continue to closely follow the health situation, in particular in collaboration with Prime Minister Jean Castex and the Minister of Health Olivier Véran. He will also keep an eye on the progress of the vaccination campaign, with a target of fifty million French people being vaccinated by the end of the summer. In recent days the Elysee has said that “the threat of the Delta variant is real, and that France is in a race against time”.

Tourism a "complicated" month of July for the French hotel industry - As the weekend marked the traditional crossover on the roads in France between those who holiday in July and those in August the president of the UMIH, which represents France’s hotel industry, has claimed that July has proved to be a “complicated month for tourism” with “numerous cancellations”. Laurent Duc said he was alarmed by the situation describing the implementation of the health pass in hotels as a “disaster” along with the “added fears of another wave and possible closures”.

Wedding in French and Provençal - Finally for the first time a wedding in Marseille has been conducted in both French and Provençal. Laurianne and Clément said “yes” in the Town Hall of the 13th and 14th arrondissements. But their marriage will remain as the first celebrated in two languages: French and Provençal!

Business

According to new figures the eurozone's economy grew by 2% in the second three months of the year, taking the region out of recession. The figures suggest there was growth in all the individual national economies which reported data. However, the eurozone remains 3% down from its pre-pandemic level in late 2019. In Italy and Spain, two countries whose economies were badly damaged by the pandemic, growth approached 3% in both. There was an even stronger rebound in Austria and Portugal, with the latter reporting its economy had expanded by 4.9%. The eurozone's two largest economies saw more moderate growth, 1.5% in Germany and 0.9% in France.

The co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey's digital payments platform Square has agreed to take over the Australian 'buy now, pay later' firm Afterpay. The $29bn deal is to be Australia's biggest-ever buyout.

The video-conferencing firm Zoom has agreed to pay $86m to settle a lawsuit in the US. The lawsuit alleged that Zoom had invaded the privacy of millions of users by sharing personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. The firm denied any wrongdoing but has agreed to boost its security practices.

A Hollywood studio has announced plans for a £700m "world-class" film and TV studios facility in the UK. The owners of Sunset Studios in Los Angeles and an investment firm have bought a 91-acre site in Hertfordshire for £120m. The UK government said it was "supporting" the development of such stage spaces across the country.

Sport 

Tokyo Olympics - Today is day one inside Tokyo's Izu Velodrome. A week of track cycling begins with qualifying in the team pursuits and the entire women's team sprint competition (07:30-10:30). Germany and Australia are among the favourites. The big athletics event of the day is the women's 5,000m (13:40-14:00) and Women's football reaches the semi-final stage. Today’s sailing includes medal races in the women's 49er FX and men's 49er (04:00-10:00).

Women's hockey reaches the quarter-final stage, with games starting from 01:30 to 10:30.

And badminton concludes with the gold medal matches in women's doubles and men's singles (05:00-15:00).

Finally, today artistic swimming, formerly known as synchronised swimming, begins (11:30-13:45). Russia have so far won every available Olympic gold medal in artistic swimming since Sydney 2000.

Formula One - Sebastian Vettel has been disqualified after finishing second in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Officials were unable to take the mandatory one-litre sample of fuel from Vettel's car after the race. F1 rules dictate teams must ensure a one-litre sample of fuel can be taken from the car at any time during the event.

The decision would promote Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to second place and extend his championship lead over Red Bull's Max Verstappen to eight points. But, unconventionally, for the time being Vettel has been left in the final results pending the appeal outcome.

Rugby Union - World Rugby has announced that the British and Irish Lions prop Kyle Sinckler has been cited for an alleged bite during Saturday's second Test defeat by South Africa. The incident is alleged to have taken place during a ruck in the 64th minute of the 27-9 loss at Cape Town Stadium. Sinckler, 28, could face a minimum 12-week ban if the citing is upheld at a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. The teams will meet again in a series decider on Saturday.

Weather 

Mainly fine with plenty of sunshine across the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region. Some cloudy patches to start with in Monaco becoming increasingly cloudy across the Alpes Maritimes by late afternoon. Highs of 28 degrees in Nice reaching 30 degrees in Cannes with a gentle breeze. This evening going down to 22 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Tuesday is similar to today with highs of 29 degrees Wednesday cloudy with scattered showers forecast for the afternoon.

And Finally 

Where does the sound of the sea come from when you put a shell to your ear? - It's an experience you've probably tried at least once: sticking your ear to a seashell. And even without being by the ocean, you can hear the sound of the waves. In a few seconds, you have the impression of being gentle rocked by the sound. But in reality, this sound that we hear does not come from the shell ... no, it comes from us!

In fact, it is the sound of our blood flowing through our blood vessels which you don't usually hear because it's a very low hum, covered by the noise of life all around.  By putting the shell against the ear, we isolate ourselves completely. This creates a sound box which amplifies the noise from inside the ear and gives a sound similar to that of the sea.

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