French and Riviera News Tuesday 17th August 2021

News 

Forest fire in the Var - (7am 17/08) - A forest fire has destroyed "more than 1,000 hectares" in Gonfaron in the Var. The fire has spread between the Massif des Maures and l’Esterel. 600 firefighters are mobilized. According to the prefecture, the fire broke out late on Monday afternoon at around 5.45pm, travelling nearly 12km in just a few hours and “quickly spreading due to the dry conditions and strong winds”. Four roads were closed on Monday evening in the direction of La Garde-Freinet and Grimaud. Today Tuesday 17th August all forest areas of the Bouches du Rhone are closed to the public, as are the massifs of Toulon.

In the early hours of this morning it was reported that the fire was continuing in the direction of Grimaud as residents of Le Luc were evacuated. The prefect of the Var arrived at the scene declaring the disaster “the first major fire of the season”. Currently, everything is being done to contain the blaze: “houses have been evacuated and people are confined". The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin is expected in the Var today "to follow the development of the fire”.

Pressure in hospitals in France due to covid - The fourth wave of covid is continuing to increase the pressure in hospitals in France. According to Public Health France the 10,000 mark has been passed with 10,151 people now hospitalised with covid, including 1,908 in intensive care. The figure also includes 950 new admissions in the last 24 hours. The last time France identified more than 10,000 patients was on June 22nd.

97 patients have died in hospital as a result of covid in the past 24 hours according to the public health France and 5,829 new cases were detected.

Holiday camp, children test positive for covid - Meanwhile in Brittany 77 children have tested positive for covid at a holiday centre. The children were part of a group of 173 children and adolescents, aged 6 to 17. Amongst the cases, 2 people had been vaccinated.

Early closure of the Promenade du Paillon in Nice - And in Nice the mayor Christian Estrosi has announced the early closure of the promenade du Paillon in the fight against the current health situation. The Paillon, which initially closed at 11pm, will now close earlier at 9pm.

Health pass checks – On the current health situation Estrosi has also recently criticized those mayors in the region who have refused to carry out checks on health passes calling it an attack on the State’s authority. Both the mayors of Villeneuve-Loubet and Fréjus have openly refused to have the health passes checked by the municipal police.

Afghanistan - French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to protect Europe "from irregular migrants” after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, while promising to "protect those who are most threatened". In his televised address on Monday August 16th, on the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have regained power, the Head of State said he wanted to carry a European initiative to protect against significant irregular migrants adding that "Europe, cannot on its own, assume the consequences of the current situation”. Macron’s comments created criticism from several political leaders and on Twitter the hashtag #EmmanuelLePen was shared.

Macron also announced the dispatch of two planes and special forces to secure the evacuations of French nationals and Afghans working for French structures. The President speaking from Fort Brégançon, in the Var, said that the return of the Taliban to the Afghan capital and more broadly throughout the country is "a historic turning point". Macron also referred to the "duty and dignity" of France which was to "protect" the Afghans who helped it and who are threatened by the arrival of the Taliban in power saying "it is France’s duty and dignity to protect those who helped us”.

Air pollution - The prefecture of the Alpes Maritimes has issued an air pollution alert advising people to limit physical activities as well as travel on major roads. The episode of fine particle pollution affected the region on Monday August 16th, especially along the coast. The situation, considered “bad” by AtmoSud, should gradually improve today Tuesday 17th August.

Celebrities call for an end online ads and shop sales of pets - A number of celebrities in France have called for an end to online ads and shop sales of pets. In an open letter, published on the animal welfare group PETA website, actors and singers including David Hallyday and Jacques Dutronc, have called on the French government to do more to put an end to the sale of cats and dogs on classified ad websites and in pet shops. The move comes in a bid to try and reduce the high number of pets abandoned in France each year.

“Bench-fan” - If you’re feeling the heat, then this might just appeal to you. The “bench-fan” which cools your bottom for those who sit on it. Made of stone, it has vents along its sides and top, which blow cold air to cool users down. The bench is currently being trialed in the French capital and is set to stay in place until September 15th.

Business

Asian shares have declined in early trade on Tuesday as growing anxiety over the spike in the Delta variant of covid infections and turmoil in Afghanistan eclipsed overnight strength on Wall Street.

Blue Origin Jeff Bezos’s space firm has announced that it’s suing Nasa over a decision to award a $2.9bn (£2.1bn) lunar lander contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX. The former Amazon boss's firm said there were "fundamental issues" with the deal, calling it unfair. The row stems from a decision in April to hand the deal to one company, not two as expected, because of a funding shortfall. Nasa is yet to comment, but it has the backing of a federal watchdog.

U.S. auto safety regulators have opened a formal safety investigation into Tesla’s driver assistance system Autopilot after a series of crashes involving Tesla models and emergency vehicles.

In the UK the way "green" electricity tariffs are sold to millions of households is to be reviewed by the government amid concerns that their environmental benefits could be overstated.

Sport 

Football – In European football, the president of Barcelona’s football club has revealed the Spanish club is 1.35bn euros (£1.15bn) in debt, describing the situation as "very worrying". The club's wage bill currently accounts for 103% of total income.

Meanwhile in the UK, Liverpool centre-back Ben Davies has agreed a season-long loan deal with Sheffield United. Davies, 26, has yet to make a senior appearance for the Reds following his transfer deadline day move from Preston in February.

Cricket – India’s captain Virat Kohli has said criticism from commentators motivated his tail enders in the 151-run win over England in the second Test at Lord's.

Tennis - Naomi Osaka broke down in tears before resuming her first news conference since the controversy over refusing to speak to media at the French Open.

Cycling - Mark Cavendish is the first rider to be confirmed for this year's Tour of Britain. Cavendish will lead Belgian team Deceuninck-Quick-Step when the race begins in Cornwall on the 5th September. Cavendish, who will be competing for a 12th time said, "It's always an honour to race on the home roads of the Tour of Britain”. Cavendish, who has won 10 stages of the Tour of Britain, added: "It's a race where I have always enjoyed success and I am really looking forward to racing with what I know will be a strong team.

Weather

Mainly fine with highs of 30 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Antibes. Highs of 28 degrees in the Var with a moderate breeze. This evening going down to 18 degrees in Saint Tropez and 24 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes with clear skies.

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday - Sunny intervals and highs of 29 degrees.

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