French and Riviera News Tuesday 21st December 2021

News 

Investigation opened into health passes - An investigation has been opened after several doctors from Nice have been victims of a vast fraud in health passes. Head of the Nice prosecutor's office Xavier Bonhomme, estimates that several hundred "real fake health passes" have been created, and sold for "several hundred euros". To obtain the fake passes the fraudsters connected to the platform using a real doctor's identification able to provide a "real fake health pass" within hours. According to the latest figures from France's Ministry of the Interior, 182,000 fake health passes have been issued since June throughout France.

France's health authority gives the green light for vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds - The High Authority for Health in France has given the green light to the vaccination of 5–11-year-olds, "without obligation". In a statement issued on Monday the HAS said that "it considers that the Pfizer vaccine can be used from the age of 5." From this Thursday 23rd December the hospital centre of Antibes Juan les Pins is offering vaccination for young children.

Approval of Novavax covid vaccine by Europe - Meanwhile Europe's medicines watchdog has approved the covid vaccine by US-based Novavax, which uses a more conventional technology which the biotech firm hopes will reduce vaccine hesitancy. In a statement released on Monday, the European Medicines Agency said: "EMA has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid to prevent covid in people from 18 years of age." Novavax is the fifth vaccine to be recommended for authorisation in the European Union.

Paris cancels New Year celebrations - The city of Paris has announced the cancellation of the fireworks and concerts planned on the Champs-Elysées for New Year's Eve, in order to apply the measures requested by the French government in the fight against the spread of covid. In a statement the town hall said that "in view of the resurgence of the pandemic and the new government announcements, the City of Paris regrets having to cancel all the festivities planned on the Champs-Élysées on December 31st".

Principality holds new record in the South Pole - The Principality of Monaco holds a new record in the South Pole having deployed the first electric motor vehicle to crisscross the "white continent" without emitting any pollutants. The polar exploration vehicle of the Venturi brand, from the Monegasque specialized in high-performance electric vehicles, arrived safely a few days ago. A team of the Monegasque manufacturer led by Gildo Pastor, former racing driver and CEO of the brand, is also on site nearly 13,000 kilometres from the Principality. It is the first vehicle of its kind in the South Pole. The project had been launched by Prince Albert II and his foundation which had asked the Monegasque manufacturer to create an exploration vehicle emitting no greenhouse gases.

Three most expensive cities in France are in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var - According to a recent survey carried out by "MeilleursAgents" the three most expensive cities in France, in terms of real estate, are in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var ahead of the French capital, Paris. With an average price per square metre of 15,142 euros it is Saint Jean Cap Ferrat which comes first followed by Ramatuelle and then Saint Tropez. Paris comes in 7th place with an average of 10,275 euros per square metre.

"Merry Christmas" - The very first message received on a mobile phone on December 3, 1992, will be put up for sale today Tuesday 21st December, by the operator Vodafone in the form of an NFT. "Merry Christmas" is probably what hundreds of thousands of French people will wish via text on Christmas Eve. But it is also the message that appeared in the very first SMS in history, on an Orbitel 901 phone by Richard Jarvis, at the time director of the operator Vodafone. The historic text will be auctioned in France today with an estimated sale price of between 100,000 and 200,000 euros. In a statement, Vodafone pledged to donate the entire amount raised to the UN refugee agency.

Business

After a fall of nearly 2.6% by mid-morning, the CAC 40 significantly reduced its losses on Monday but still ended down 0.82%, with investors fearing that the expansion of the Omicron variant could lead to restrictions on activity that could weigh on growth.

In an attempt to curb contamination of covid, the French government is currently considering tightening health restrictions in companies. In particular, the possibility of extending the health pass to all companies and no longer only to those that welcome the public. The Minister of Labour Elisabeth Borne met with the employers' and trade union organizations on Monday following which an agreement was reached to extend working from home to at least three or four days a week.  Currently, private companies are encouraged to allow "two to three days" of remote working per week, while public employees are entitled to three days.

The elite annual gathering of business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos has been postponed due to the spread of Omicron. The meeting was due to take place in Switzerland from 17-21 January but is now planned for "early summer".

Elon Musk, the world's richest person, has tweeted he will pay $11bn (£8.3bn) in tax for this year. Mr Musk has been embroiled in a public debate on social media over how much tax he pays. In a tweet Musk wrote for those wondering, I will pay over $11bn in taxes this year".

Meanwhile a top Chinese live-streamer has been handed a 1.34bn yuan ($210m; £160m) fine for tax evasion. Huang Wei, known as Viya, is an internet celebrity with tens of millions of followers. She has used her platform to sell a variety of products. Authorities accuse her of hiding her personal income as well as other financial offences between 2019 and 2020. In a post, she said she was "deeply sorry".

Sport

Cricket - England's resistance was eventually broken as Australia completed a 275-run victory in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Football – Following a meeting on Monday, Premier League and EFL clubs have chosen to fulfil festive fixtures despite ongoing Covid-19 disruption. The decision comes despite Premier League players returning a record 90 positive tests last week. The Premier League's 20 clubs met on Monday to discuss the fixture list after six weekend games were postponed.

Tennis - Rafael Nadal has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning home from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was beaten by Britain's Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the exhibition event on Friday. The 35-year-old has only just returned to action after a long injury lay-off.

Cycling - Geraint Thomas has signed a new two-year contract to remain with Ineos Grenadiers. The 35-year-old's previous deal was due to expire at the end of 2021.

Weather 

Sunny intervals with a moderate breeze. Highs of 13 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Antibes - for the first day of winter today. This evening going down to 6 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow is expected to feel cold with temperatures reaching a mild 11-12 degrees. The cool spell is not expected to last, returning to highs of 13-14 degrees on Thursday with clear skies.

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