French and Riviera News Tuesday 10th August 2021

News

“Dramatic” situation in Martinique - Faced with what's been described as a "dramatic" situation, the island of Martinique has introduced a strict lockdown from today Tuesday 10th August, for a period of three weeks. The prefect announced the closure of non-food stores, as well as the 1 km travel restriction.

The island has faced an explosion of covid contaminations in recent weeks with the incidence rate reaching 1,166 (per 100,000 inhabitants). Stores, with the exception of food stores and pharmacies, but also hotels and seasonal rentals, will have to close for at least three weeks. Working from home will be encouraged and "personal" travel limited. The prefect added that "vulnerable" tourists "are invited to return home,". Places of recreation and culture are closed, and the beaches will no longer be accessible to the public with boats unable to leave the marinas. According to figures from the prefecture only 18% of the population of the island are vaccinated.

Public Health France publishes latest figures for covid - Meanwhile as France introduced the health pass on Monday August 9th, figures published by Public Health France showed that the number of people hosptialised with covid reached 9,000 for the first time since the end of June.

There were 230 new critical care admissions in 24 hours, which now stands at 1,667. Hospitals counted 9,022 covid patients with 833 admitted in the past 24 hours. Between Sunday and Monday, 68 Covid deaths were recorded in hospitals.

On the vaccination side, since the start of the campaign in France, 44,980,791 people have received at least one injection (i.e. 66.7% of the total population) and 37,514,388 people now have a complete vaccination schedule (i.e. 55.6% of the total population).

Health pass requirements – The health pass is now required at a number of public places in France including bars cafés, museums, tourist sites and long-distance bus or train travel. The pass shows one of three things – a fully vaccinated status, a recent negative covid test or a recent recovery from covid and its available of the French Covid tracker app Tous Anti Covid. For people who were vaccinated in France you can scan the QR code on your vaccination certificate into the app which then generates the code required.

People who don’t have a smartphone can show the paper version of their vaccination or testing certificates along with ID. However, if you’re only visiting France and have had your vaccinations or tests in another country the Tous Anti Covid app is available in the app store and works on non-French smartphones.

For those vaccinated in the UK it is reportedly now possible to upload your NHS covid pass to the app. The French government confirmed on August 4th that for people vaccinated in England and Wales this was possible however, those in Scotland or Northern Ireland will need to wait for the NHS app to come into use in their area. For the time being, visitors from Scotland or Northern Ireland are advised to present their UK vaccination certificate to access health passport venues, again accompanied with ID. Locally there have been reports that some visitors from the UK have been having difficulty obtaining the QR code in this case, you are advised to seek additional help from a health professional such as a pharmacist, or even a vaccination centre.

The health pass is not required for children under the age of 12 and for those aged between 12 and 17 there is a “period of tolerance” until September 30th. After which, all over 12s will be required to show the health pass.

Failure to provide health pass - France’s Ministry of Justice has announced new sanctions for “fraudulent presentation of a health pass”. During checks if you are found not to have the health pass or you’re using someone else’s QR code, a fine of 750 euros may be issued with a fixed fine of 135 euros, if it’s paid immediately. For a repeat offense within 15 days; the fine increases to 1,500 euros and for more than three violations within 30 days, a six-month prison sentence and a fine of 3,750 euros. For possession and use of a “fake certificate” you are liable to two to five years in prison, and in some cases, if "organized fraud", its punishable with up to ten years of imprisonment. For businesses which fail to carry out checks - an administrative closure for a period of seven days can be enforced by the authorities.

New rapid covid screening centre opens in Cannes today - The city of Cannes has from today, Tuesday August 10th, opened a new rapid covid screening centre. Located at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, the new Covid testing centre will carry out more than 500 daily RT-PCR tests from Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm. Results will be delivered in less than 24 hours and there is no need to make an appointment. Since the extended health pass the demand for covid tests has exploded with queues at testing centres becoming increasingly long. To avoid overloading, the Cannes town hall is strengthening its screening coverage in the area.

In other news

23-year-old man shot in Perpignan - A 23-year-old man has been killed and three others injured in a shooting, in Perpignan. The incident occurred at 3am on Monday 9th August. According to reports the victim was known to the police for drug trafficking. An investigation has been opened.

Armed far-right activist arrested during anti-health pass demonstration - A 36-year-old man has appeared in court after being arrested during an anti-health pass demonstration in Nice. Arrested in possession of a knife on Saturday August 7th during the demonstration, the far-right activist from Grimaud in the Var, who claims to be a member of the Patriots, appeared in court on Monday, August 9. He was later released.

Firefighters from the Alpes Maritimes head to Greece - Firefighters from the Alpes-Maritimes have left for Greece to fight the devasting forest fires. 23 firefighters from Cagnes sur Mer left on Monday August 9th as Greek colleagues continued to battle the fires for a 7th consecutive day. More than 56,000 hectares have been destroyed. Other French firefighters from the Bouches-du-Rhône have already been on site for a few days.

Climate change - The "terrifying" new report from UN climate experts has sparked an avalanche of comments on Monday, with fears that some coastal areas in the region could disappear.  Research director Wolfgang Cramer from the CRNS in Aix-en-Provence, evoked in the local daily Nice Matin that some of the aspects of climate change and its consequences in the region risks having to move populations due to "the rise in sea level”.

The region has already suffered natural disasters: floods in October 2020 but also in 2019 and 2015, as well as landslides and tragic Mediterranean episodes.

Feeling hot! hot! hot! - High temperatures are expected this week in the Alpes-Maritimes region as a mass of hot air coming from the Sahara will cause temperatures to rise. Possible peaks of 38-40 degrees are expected, especially inland. The heatwave is expected to last until the weekend.

Business

US job openings hit a fresh record in June amid reports the country continues to face a labour shortage. According to figures from the Labor Department. Job vacancies jumped by 590,000 to 10.1 million on the last day of the month. That was up from a record 9.5 million openings in May and well above expectations. It comes as companies struggle to find workers in sectors such as leisure and hospitality.