French and Riviera News Tuesday 7th December 2021

News 

Building in Sanary-sur-mer collapses after explosion, emergency services are on site - Firefighters have intervened after a building located in the port district of Sanary-sur-mer in the Var collapsed in the early hours of this morning. Emergency services were alerted shortly before 4am. It is still not known how many people could be inside the three-storey building. Emergency services are currently on site. According to local media the building "collapsed after an explosion".

Two killed in fatal road accident - Two people have died in a road accident on the RDN7 between Brignoles and Tourves in the Var. The accident occurred on Monday evening when two vehicles hit each other head on, at high speed. The two victims are men aged 32 and 48. The RDN7 in Brignoles was cut off to other motorists as emergency services intervened.

Construction worker dies after fatal fall - A man has been killed following an accident on a construction site. The incident occurred on Monday morning at a private home on the chemin de la Charlotte, in Roquefort-les-Pins. The man in his forties did not survive and another worker was slightly injured. The exact circumstances are yet to be determined; however, it's believed that the two workers found themselves trapped after the wall collapsed on top of them. The investigation continues.

French government tightens health protocol following defense council meeting - French Prime Minister Jean Castex and France's Health Minister Olivier Véran, have given a press conference to take stock of the fifth wave of the covid epidemic in France. The conference came following the Defense Council meeting held on Monday afternoon. With the holiday season soon upon us and the health situation deteriorating in France the French government has emphasised the importance of "being vaccinated" to avoid the overcrowding of hospitals, as well as an increased health protocol to limit the spread of covid. Health minister Olivier Veran explained that the new variant "is indeed more contagious than the Delta but is not yet proven to be worse than".

Health protocol in schools tightened to level 3 - The tightening of the current health protocol will see changes to the health protocol in schools; with it being increased to "level 3" which means that the wearing of a mask will be mandatory at all times and certain school sporting activities will be suspended. The testing of children will continue, and classes will be closed after 3 positive cases.

Teleworking encouraged - Companies in France will be encouraged to implement teleworking "where possible" to at least 2 or 3 days per employee as well as limit face-to-face meetings.

Nightclubs to close from Friday - And nightclubs in France will be closed for a month from this Friday December 10th. The Prime Minister was quick to add that financial support will be given to the businesses concerned with meetings being held from today Tuesday 7th December.

Vaccination - As far as the vaccination programme is concerned and in order "to speed up the process", vaccination of those most at risk the over 65s, will now have access to the booster jab without an appointment regardless of the centre and as of December 15th, children aged 5 to 11 who have an underlying health issue, will be able to get vaccinated. The measure could be extended to this entire age group by the end of the year although the health minister said it would not be mandatory and would be done only "on a voluntary basis" of the parents.

25 cases of new covid variant in France - The Minister of Health announced that 25 cases of the Omicron variant have so far been confirmed in metropolitan France, specifying that 21 are so-called imported cases (detected on people returning from countries where the variant has been spotted).

Why am I not able to have Pfizer as my booster jab? - Despite many patients being offered the Moderna vaccination as a booster jab, especially in our region, the Minister of Health has assured that there is "not a shortage of Pfizer in France" and that it is only "due to stocks of Moderna which need to be distributed and their packaging which is more adapted to vaccination centres".

The Regional Health Agencies across France aim to distribute "Pfizer to GPs and pharmacies and Moderna to vaccination centres". In recent weeks this distribution made by some regional health agencies and notably in the PACA region, has been met with great displeasure from patients who have gone to vaccination centres and mostly wanted to be injected with the messenger RNA vaccine from Pfizer-BioTech.

The Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur has been particularly affected and according to the regional health agency the aim is to eventually see "all vaccination centres in the region administer only Moderna vaccines". Meanwhile France's health minister assured that all regions in France are treated equally and that the situation in the PACA region was due to a "lower initial stock of the Pfizer vaccine" compared to other regions with many "Pfizer appointments being offered while there was not the number of doses in stock at the time to correspond to the number of appointments made".

However, in addition, according to the Directorate General of Health the Moderna vaccine is greatly overrepresented in France with 20 million doses compared to 5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Since the beginning of November, the High Authority of Health (HAS) in France recommends the Moderna vaccine to those over 30. GPs however prefer to order Pfizer which can be injected into all patients. On its website the HAS recommends that the "Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine, whose vaccine efficacy seems slightly better, can be used in primary vaccination (in a full dose of 100 μg) and for the administration of a booster dose in a half dose (50 μg) in patients aged 30 years and older".

Fondation de France warns of "loneliness and isolation" amongst young people in France – A recent survey carried out by the "Fondation de France" has shown that 33% of young people aged between 15 and 30 express a feeling of loneliness. According to the study conducted by crédoc, 33% of young people aged between 15 and 30 report a feeling of loneliness compared to 14% of anyone over 60. A proportion which has increased by 5 points compared to 2020. In addition, 21% of 15-30 people say they feel isolated, a rate that has almost doubled compared to 2020 (+9 points in the space of a year) and only 46% say they maintain regular contact with their family or friends.

Presidential campaign - The Republican Party started their presidential election campaign in the Alpes-Maritimes today. Their official nominee Valérie Pécresse has lunch with local MP Eric Ciotti who she beat to become the Republican Party nominee. Afterwards, Monsieur Ciotti said he remained committed to the party campaign and that his goal is to beat Emmanuel Macron. For her part Madame Pécresse said Ciotti will have a very special place in her campaign as he has a unique voice to be heard across the country.

Christmas village – HSH Prince Albert II Monaco accompanied by his children Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, have opened the new Christmas village on Port Hercule. Sheltered by a forest of 800 natural firs, the village will offer visitors the chance to meet one of Canada's most adorable sea birds, the puffin. The village also features many familiar sites, such as the merry-go-round, and new additions including a caribou ride carousel and a toboggan slide. The market features 17 chalet-style kiosks, 20 food stands and the world-famous ice-skating rink. All visitors over 16 will be required to present a valid pass sanitaire, mask-wearing is compulsory, and all eating must be at a seated table.

Business

Nightclub owners in France have called the move "unfair" as the French government announces the closure of nightclubs in France for four weeks from this Friday, due to the current health situation. A time of year normally crucial in terms of turnover will see establishments forced to close. The measure, announced on Monday by Prime Minister Jean Castex is similar to other European countries such as Belgium. However, one employee of the industry said "the closure won't make any difference as people will just go to bars instead". If the government does not decide to extend the closure of nightclubs, these establishments should reopen on 7 January.

It's good news for Renault's employees in France as the car manufacturer has revised downwards the number of job cuts for the period 2022-2024. While it was initially expected to cut up to 2000 jobs, the group will eliminate less than 1700.

Meanwhile the CEO of the American fintech Better.com invited some employees to a Zoom meeting to announce their dismissal with immediate effect. A method considered brutal by employees. The boss of an American fintech called Better.com, specializing in digital mortgage loans, organized a large Zoom meeting with 9% of its 10,000 employees to announce their dismissal, about 900 people. &n