French and Riviera News Thursday July 29th 2021

News

Quarantine - The U.K. government has announced that people from the European Union who are double jabbed can enter England and Wales without having to quarantine from next Monday. Proof of vaccination under the EU Covid19 passport will be sufficient for visitors.

However, people coming in from France are not yet part of the changes as the country is still on the Amber+ list over fears over the Beta variant. A further review will be carried out in a week to decide whether restrictions on passengers entering the U.K. from France should be relaxed.

Health Pass - The government has announced that the new health pass regulations will come into force on August the 9th. The French Constitutional Council will rule on the measures passed in Parliament last Sunday and government spokesman Gabriel Attal says that there will be a period of “adaptation” starting on the 9th. The health pass will be required for admittance to bars, restaurants, some shops and a range of cultural and leisure activities. It will also be required for long distance train and bus travel. The under 12s are exempt and young people aged between 12 and 17 will not be included until the end of August.

Infection rates - COVID-19 infection rates continue to break new records as the more contagious delta variant spreads among all age groups but young adults in particular. New daily cases are averaging 800 on the Côte d’Azur and hospital rates are now starting to climb as the 4th wave of the pandemic gathers momentum. The number of patients in intensive care in local hospitals has risen from 14 to 22 over the past 48 hours according to the regional health authority and less severe cases which require hospital treatment have risen by 30 percent in the past week.

Nationally, 992 people are in intensive care units around the country, up from 859 a week ago. 7,202 patients are receiving hospital treatment for the virus and there were 27,934 new cases reported on Wednesday.

No curfew on Ile d'Aix - The prefect of the Charente Maritimes department has ruled out an attempt by the Mayor of the Ile d’Aix off the western coast of France to impose a local curfew. Patrick Denaud wanted to impose a curfew between midnight and 6am to prevent large groups of people congregating which he says is helping to spread COVID-19. The prefect says that such a decision is beyond the mayor’s powers but more help including extra police will be sent to the tiny island. The Ile d’Aix has only 250 full time residents and covers an area of 119 hectares. It attracts large numbers of visitors in the summer with boatloads of tourists from the French mainland visiting the island daily.

Campsite checks - Large campsites with swimming pools in the Var are already checking health passes before customers are allowed on site. QR codes are being checked before entry and then placed on a central verification register. Most campers appear to be aware of the regulations and there are only a few reports of people being turned away. Customers are being alerted by email before they arrive and some businesses have also been recommending  local pharmacies where people who don’t want to be vaccinated can get a PCR test. However, if that is the case, people are warned not to turn up on a Sunday when pharmacies are closed.

Macron holiday - President Macron and his wife Brigitte have started their summer holiday at Fort Bregancon in the Var. The Presidential couple have spent time at the Fort every summer since 2018 and the annual visit means a lot of extra local security. A spokesman for the President says that he will spend time relaxing but will also be “determined and concentrated” as he seeks to increase the pace of vaccination against the coronavirus. Mr Macron wants to see 50 million people vaccinated before the end of the summer and will chair at least one videoconference with his Health Minister Olivier Veran during his holiday.

EV subsidy - Elected members in the Nice Metropolitan area will vote today to raise subsidies for people who buy an electric vehicle. The subsidy for the purchase of an electric car is set to rise from 3,000 to 5,000 euros from the first of August and the fiscal reference ceiling will rise from 60,000 to 80,000 euros. The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has also promised to install 600 fast charging points in the city by 2025. Subsidies for electric bikes and scooters are also set to increase.

White goods - Prices for household appliances are set to rise by around 10 percent within a few weeks mainly because of supply chain problems and the increasing cost of raw materials. Steel prices have risen by 107 percent while the cost of PVC is up by 115 percent and chip prices have doubled amid a worldwide shortfall. Manufacturers say they have no option but to pass on the increased costs to French consumers although appliances made in France shouldn’t be subject to as big increases as imports.

Business

The US Federal Reserve has concluded its two day policy meeting in Washington with the debate still raging over when to wean the economy from measures put in place more than a year ago to fight the after-shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Fed chair Jerome Powell has acknowledged that downside risks are starting to emerge as new cases of the Delta variant increase rapidly. The economy is still 6.8 million jobs short of where it was before the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Mr Powell says that America remains “a ways off” from the progress he wants to see before changing any of the central bank’s efforts at encouraging job growth. The Fed chair is facing increasing policy dilemmas as inflation is taking off and house prices have hit record highs thanks in part to the relatively low interest rates on home mortgages. Some policymakers think that maintaining benchmark interest rates at near zero and the continued pace of bond buying is now too aggressive but with coronavirus infection rates increasing again, it’s a gamble as to when will be the best time to ease accommodation.

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has raised its forecast for full year sales of the COVID-19 vaccine that it developed with BioNTech of Germany by nearly 29 percent to 33.5 billion dollars. As countries start to stock up on doses for the rest of the year, Pfizer also says it could apply for an emergency use authorisation for a potential booster dose as early as August. The development suggests that a booster dose of coronavirus vaccine will likely be needed in the future. The raised sales forecast of the vaccine is based on signed deals for 2.1 billion doses which could increased if the company signs additional contracts. The drugmaker got a head start in December with the first US emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccine and has jumped ahead of its rivals that have faced manufacturing hurdles.

McDonald’s has surged past Wall Street targets for global sales and profit as restaurants reopened and consumers rushed for its new crispy chicken sandwich. Same store sales at the world’s biggest fast food chain jumped by 40.5% in the second quarter, exceeding the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 for the second straight quarter. McDonald’s total revenue increased by a better than expected 57% to $5.89 billion in three months to the end of June. Net income more than quadrupled to $2.2 billion.

Sport

Olympics – The hosts Japan along with China and the United States continue to dominate the medals table on day six of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Team GB continues to do well and there are more chances of medals today. 17 gold medals are available today in artistic gymnastics, women’s canoe slalom, fencing, men’s and women’s rowing, shooting, swimming and table tennis. Meanwhile the Republic of Ireland has won its first gold medal of the games in the men’s lightweight double sculls. It’s the first time that Ireland have ever won an Olympic rowing gold medal.

Football – Celtic are out of the European Champions League. Celtic lost 2-1 away at  FC Midtjylland on the night to lose the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Chelsea have announced that fans attending their home games will need to prove that they have been fully vaccinated or produce a negative COVID-19 lateral flow test. Fans will be checked at the point of entry by stewards although the government has not yet ruled officially on how it intends to police large crowds at sporting events. Chelsea say the new requirements will come into force for the friendly game against Spurs on the 4th of August.

Formula One – Red Bull and Mercedes will appear before race stewards today to re-examine the crash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix. Red Bull wants Hamilton punished further for the incident which the team says costs $1.8 million and will hamper its ambitions for the rest of the season. Mercedes maintain that it was a racing incident and the 10 second penalty given to Hamilton who went on to win the race was sufficient.

Weather

Clear skies with light to moderate south easterly winds. Top temperatures 28-30 degrees in coastal areas and up to 34 degrees inland. Overnight lows of 21-23 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Mainly fine with highs of 28-30 on the coast and 31-34 degrees inland.

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