French and Riviera News Thursday July 22nd 2021

Castex- The French Prime Minister has said that 96 percent of the 18,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday had not been vaccinated.

Speaking on French television on Wednesday, Jean Castex warned that the country had already entered the 4th wave of the pandemic and that new cases of the virus have soared by 140 percent in the past week.

As the government launched the first phase of its new health pass scheme on Wednesday, Mr Castex said that from the 1st of August , restaurants, cafes and bars would also be required to check a customers coronavirus status before accepting business. He said that businesses would not be held responsible in the event of someone using a fraudulent pass and that there would be a grace period of one week while people get used to the new rules.

The Prime Minister said that there are no plans to introduce the health pass in schools when classes resume in September but that a large vaccination drive would be undertaken in colleges and lycees with a particular focus on teachers who haven’t yet had the jab.

21,000 new cases of the virus were reported in France on Wednesday.

 

Elysee 2022- High ranking members from the centre right Les Republicans have held a meeting with Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts de France region who is intending to run for the Elysee Palace in next year’s election.

Reports say that the meeting with Mr Bertrand who did well at the recent regional elections was positive as the party looks to unite around one candidate to take on Emmanuel Macron in the 2022 Presidential election.

Mr Bertrand has already declared his intention to run without going through the process of a party primary which has raised some eyebrows.

The Mayor of Antibes, Jean Leonetti who attended Wednesday’s meeting said that Mr Bertrand “can’t win the election on his own”.

Several other candidates have already met with party officials including Valerie Pecresse and the former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier who hasn’t yet declared if he intends to run or not.

 

Port enquiry- Judicial Police from Nice have searched the home and offices of the Mayor of Menton Jean Claude Guibal as part of an enquiry into the management of the ports of Menton and Menton Garavan.

Opposition politicians in the town have been demanding an enquiry into how the ports are run for some time.

There have been accusations of excessive salaries at the public firm which manages the ports  and is run by the Mayor’s daughter in law Celine Guidicelli.

Opposition politicians who have come together under the “Menton Demain” banner , say that there has been no structural investment in the ports and the entire management is being carried out in an opaque and secretive manner.

They also want to know how the Mayor’s daughter had been allowed to switch from managing his office to becoming the general director of the port operating firm SPL in 2018.

 

Heatwave-Meteo France has issued a heatwave warning for parts of the south and south west of the country.

The afternoon temperature in Toulouse could hit 40 degrees today and temperatures further east in Nimes and Avignon could hit 37 or 38.

Inland areas of the Var could hit 35  degrees today and tomorrow while temperatures in coastal areas are expected to be hovering at 30 or 31 degrees.

Friday is also expected to be extremely hot before temperatures fall back a little over the weekend.

 

Governess- The governor of Grasse jail is to leave his job and be replaced by Francoise Conte.

Xavier Villeroy, who’s 45 has been in charge at the jail since 2018 and has had to deal with a number of issues including a prison mutiny , several daring escapes and strikes by staff.

He’s leaving to take up an inter-regional position in Marseilles.

Francoise Conte , who’s been in charge of the Aix en Provence detention centre has previous experience at Grasse jail where she was head of HR. She’ll take up her new position on the 1st of September.

 

New speed cameras- Work has started to erect a new speed camera on the eastbound side of the A57 near Sainte-Musse.

One camera is already operating in the area which is undergoing major roadworks and has a temporary speed limit of 70 km/h.

Meanwhile, there’s no news yet as to when the new speed cameras on the Moyenne Corniche at Cap d’Ail are to start operating.

Last month the Mayor of Cap d’Ail said he had received official approval to put the cameras up and that he was sick of motorists using the road as if it was an extension of the A8.

They’re supposed to start operating before the end of the summer but there is no sign of them yet.

 

Angelina-The Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie has been in the Var to present awards to local bee keepers.

The star , who is the “godmother” of the UNESCO programme’Women for Bees’ handed out diplomas to 8 women apiarists at Sainte Baume on Wednesday afternoon.

The 8 women , who have all changed their professions to take up full time bee keeping have been recognised by the Women for Bees programme which aims to encourage women to become the world guardians of the global bee population and increase biodiversity.

 

Business.

 

The US Congress has been hearing evidence about when the government will likely run out of money to pay its bills with a battle  looming over the debt ceiling.

Failure by Democrats and Republicans to work out differences over whether government spending cuts should accompany an increase in the statutory debt limit  which is currently set at $28.5 trillion could lead to shutdown of the federal government.

A shutdown has occurred 3 times in the past decade leading to employees being sent home and government offices closed.

Sources on Capitol Hill say “it’s messy “although there is no talk as yet of a shutdown.

The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell has warned that members of his party will be unlikely to support a hike to the debt limit given the Democrats drive for a multi trillion dollar infrastructure bill.

The US Treasury department will technically bump up against its statutory debt limit on July 31.

The debt ceiling is the amount of money that the federal government is allowed to borrow to meet its obligations ranging from paying military salaries to IRS tax refunds and social security benefits.

If the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to take special steps to avoid a government default.

 

Coca-Cola says that it is well equipped to manage a potential hit from the fast spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

In an interview with Reuters, the firm’s finance chief John Murphy said that when things are constrained, the bigger brands are the ones you focus on.

The fallout from the pandemic has forced Coca-Cola to streamline its product range with the firm discontinuing its TaB diet soda and Coca-Cola energy brands in the United States.

Sales in some markets in Asia have also been hit in the second quarter from a resurgence of the virus.

Mr Murphy says that some potential impact of the Delta variant had been written into the latest sales forecast as the soft drinks giant beat Wall Street second quarter estimates.

Overall revenue rose by 41.1% in the second quarter to 10.13 billion dollars.

The firm is concerned about surging coronavirus infections but has raised its annual revenue target to a 12-14 percent increase.

Annual adjusted earnings per share are expected to rise by 13-15 percent.

 

And – UK Property sales  hit a new record level in June according to official figures but analysts say it could mark the peak of the housing boom.

An estimated 213,120 sales were completed during the month, more than twice the total in May according to data from HM Revenue and Customs.

Analysts say that there had been a “frenzied rush” before the withdrawal of some stamp duty concessions but with demand continuing to outstrip supply , they expect prices to continue rising.

Reports say that activity has reduced slightly in July especially in the London area where the stamp duty savings were the greatest.

There are also warnings that some people could be overpaying for property amid a spate of panic buying and a return of gazumping.

 

Sport.

 

Rugby union – Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Wales star has made a remarkable recovery from a dislocated shoulder and leads a side with three Scottish players in it for the first time since 1997.

Ali Price is preferred to Conor Murray at scrum half and Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg also get the nod.

Coach Warren Gatland said that picking  the side was incredibly difficult.

All three Tests will be played in Cape Town because of the coronavirus situation in South Africa.

 

Football – the United States women’s team has been beaten for the first time in 44 matches at the Tokyo Olympics.

The USA went down 3–0 to Sweden.

USA forward Megan Rapinoe said they had been under par and had done some dumb stuff.

Team GB won their opening match at the Games with a 2-0 victory over Chile.

 

Formula 1-The Mercedes chief technical officer has said that the 10 second penalty handed to Lewis Hamilton for the incident with Max Verstappen at last weekend’s British Grand Prix was “harsh”.

James Allison said that Hamilton had “followed Formula 1’s overtaking rules” and that there was no need for him to cede any ground.

Red Bull have taken the opposite view with team principal Christian Horner describing the incident which resulted in Verstappen slamming into tyre wall and needing a trip to hospital as “reckless and dangerous”.

The race stewards judged that Hamilton had been “predominantly to blame” for the incident at Copse ,one of the highest speed corners on the Grand Prix circuit.

 

Cricket – England have included bowler Ollie Robinson in the squad for the first two Tests against India next month.

The 27-year-old made his debut against New Zealand in June but was suspended when historical racist and sexist tweets were revealed.

Ben Stokes returns after a finger injury while Jonny Bairstow is recalled.

 

Weather.

 

Clear skies with light to moderate variable winds.

Top temperatures 28-30 degrees on the coast and 33-35 degrees inland.

Overnight lows of 20-22 degrees with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Clear skies with highs of 28-30 degrees on the coast and 32-34 degrees inland.

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