French and Riviera News Tuesday July 27th 2021

News

Health Pass - The French Constitutional Council will announce on the 5th of August the exact details of the government’s health pass regulations following a week of wrangling between the National Assembly and the Senate. The bill was finally signed on Sunday following compromise talks between the differing factions. Restaurants, bars and long distance train and bus travel are all expected to come within the new regulations but the measures won’t be applied until the Constitutional Council makes a definitive decision. Some of the regulations could be implemented by government decree before the Council makes its final ruling.

Shopping centres - The operators of shopping centres around the country, whatever their size will not be obliged to ask customers to present their health pass unless the Covid-19 situation in a particular department warrants it. French lawmakers have agreed that the decision should be left up to departmental prefects. Shops are set to become increasingly busy in the run up to the start of the new school year in September. The government inserted a last minute amendment to the legal text of the health pass bill giving prefects the decision after centre right Senators had opposed extending the health pass requirement to shopping centres.

Corsica - The prefect of the Haute Corse has announced that bars and restaurants in the island department will have to close at midnight from the first of August as cases of the delta variant of coronavirus continue to spread. In addition, gatherings of more than 10 people on beaches or in public outdoor areas such as parks are forbidden after 9pm from today. Corsica has one of the highest infection rates in the country and the prefect has warned of additional measures should the situation not improve.

Young adults - Coronavirus infection rates in people aged 20-29 in the Alpes Maritimes are exploding. The latest data published by the French covid-tracker website ( www.covidtracker.fr ) shows the infection rate in that age group running at 1866 cases per 100,000 people, more than 7 times the maximum public health alert of 250. Cases are rising across all age groups but it’s the 20-29 year old bracket that is causing the most concern. The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has now introduced a complete ban on the consumption of alcohol in any public outdoor space until the 16th of August as authorities seek to find ways to slow the spread of the delta variant among young people. Meanwhile the general infection rate in the Alpes Maritimes now stands at 523 per 100,000 people, the third highest level of any French department.

Masks - The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has reminded the public that mask wearing is now mandatory in most outside areas across the department with the exception of beaches and big parks. Reports say that many people are not yet complying with the renewed regulations with some saying they weren’t aware of the change and others saying that it’s too hot to wear a mask. So far, police have been lenient and only reminding offenders that they must mask up outside but fines of 135 euros are available to authorities for non compliance.

Vaccinations - President Macron has announced that 60 percent of the population has now had at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. In a tweet on Monday, Mr Macron promised that the vaccination drive would continue and urged people to get the jab. The President said that more than 4 million doses of vaccine had been administered in the past 15 days alone. He insists that mass vaccination is the only way to get the virus under control.

Delays - Despite the government’s vaccination efforts, several towns in the Var are experiencing delivery delays with some people unable to get an appointment until early September.

The Doctolib organisation has no appointments for Pfizer or Moderna shots until the 19th of August in Toulon while there’s nothing available in Draguignan until the 20th of August, Frejus until the 31st of August, Hyeres until the 3rd of September or La Seyne until the 6th of September. Doctolib advises people who want to get vaccinated to keep checking for availability and it hopes to be able to speed up delivery when fresh stocks arrive. Around half the population of the Var has already had two shots of a vaccine.

Train trouble - One of the most militant train unions is threatening strike action if the government goes ahead with its plan to suspend or redeploy staff who don’t have a health pass by the end of August. The government data that staff operating long distance trains must have a health pass or they could be suspended. The Sud Rail Union says that it will call its members out on strike unless the government withdraws the plan. The union also says that it will instruct its members to only check the train tickets of passengers and not the health pass. It described the new measures as “antisocial and discriminatory”. 

Business

The US Federal Reserve will meet this week to discuss how to respond to fast rising prices and increased coronavirus infections. Fed officials are likely to confirm that a strong recovery and planning for an eventual policy shift is being considered but the fresh risks have made the path out of the crisis less assured. The outlook has been clouded by a quadrupling of daily coronavirus infections led by the more contagious delta variant. Data on air travel and restaurant visits remains encouraging suggesting that consumers are still in recovery mode. Analysts say that developments since the last meeting of the Fed have strengthened the case against pulling back on accommodation prematurely. The Fed continues to buy $120 billion in government bonds each month and is holding its policy interest rate at near zero. Some officials think it is time to shift away from current policy but the rise in coronavirus infections makes any rapid change less certain.

Second quarter profit at Lockheed Martin has missed Wall Street estimates despite the firm’s space business boosting sales. Lockheed Martin’s classified aeronautics development programme caused the firm to miss estimates as the global pandemic hit the defence industry and its supply chain causing shutdowns and months of delays. Quarterly sales at the company’s largest aeronautics division which makes the F-35 fighter jet rose by 2 1/2% to $6.6 billion. However, performance issues led to a loss of $225 million on a highly classified programme that the firm has been working on for some time. The space unit saw profits in the quarter increase to $335 million, a jump of 33 percent due to progress on space based sensor platforms and its United Launch Alliance the investment. Revenue for the second quarter came in at $17 billion.

Bitcoin is making another revival after the online retail giant Amazon revealed that it was hiring an expert in cryptocurrencies. Amazon is advertising for a digital currency and block chain product leader to look at how its customers pay for goods. The news saw bitcoin jump from $29,000 to $39,000 on Monday, its largest growth in several weeks. Despite the speculation, Amazon has not confirmed any plans to accept cryptocurrency payments. The firm did say that it was inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency sector and wanted to explore how it would fit with Amazon.

Sport

Olympics - It’s day four of the Olympic games in Tokyo with the host nation Japan continuing to stack up the medals. Japan now has eight gold medals along with the USA and China in third with 6.

Great Britain is having some success with four gold medals so far including for Tom Daley and Matty Lee in the men’s synchronised 10 m platform diving. Tom Pidcock also won gold for Team GB in the men’s mountain bike event. Tom Dean added to Team GB’s gold medal tally in the pool earlier today with victory in the men’s 200m freestyle with a silver for team-mate Duncan Scott.

There are 22 medal events today including in artistic gymnastics, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, rowing and judo. The women’s triathlon and weightlifting in the 59 kg and the 64 kg categories are also taking place.

Football – John Terry, the assistant manager of Aston Villa has left his role to pursue his goal of becoming a head coach. Terry joined the coaching staff at Villa Park in October 2018 but now says it’s time for him to move on to take up a new challenge. The former Chelsea captain helped to guide Villa to promotion in 2019 and was a key part of the management team that kept them in the top flight last season.

Cricket – Australia have beaten West Indies in the deciding one-day International in Barbados. Australia won by 6 wickets to take the series 2-1

Rugby Union – The Lions prop Mako Vunipola has rejected claims by the Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus that he was “reckless and dangerous” during the first Test. The Lions beat South Africa 22–17 last Saturday to take a one nil lead in the three match series. Erasmus claimed on social media that Vunipola had been reckless when he helped Cheslin Kolbe off the floor after he’d been tackled by Ali Price. He said that Kolbe had been “played in the air” and could have been injured which is why Vunipola should not have got involved. Vunipola has reacted with bemusement to the comments but admitted he wasn’t surprised to be attacked in the South African media. He added that he’d simply acted naturally.

Rugby League – The  organisers of the Rugby League World Cup have held an emergency board meeting to discuss whether the event in England can go ahead following the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand. The two giants of the game withdrew last week over concerns about player welfare and safety related to Covid-19. The board will meet again later this week and said they are concentrating on achieving the best possible outcome for the tournament.

Weather

Partially cloudy with some thunder inland and light to moderate south easterly winds. Top temperatures 26-28 degrees in coastal areas and 29-30 degrees inland. Overnight lows of 21-23 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 26-30 on the coast and 30-33 degrees inland.

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