French and Riviera News Wednesday 22nd December 2021


First case of Omicron covid variant identified in the Alpes Maritimes - A first case of the Omicron covid variant has been detected in the Alpes-Maritimes. The case was confirmed by the Regional Health Agency on Tuesday 21st December and concerns a patient at the University Hospital of Nice.

Ten deaths from covid in the last 24 hours, a first since April - According to Public Health France ten deaths from covid were recorded in the last 24 hours on Tuesday, a first since April. The incidence rate continues to rise now standing at 936, a new record since the beginning of the epidemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,782 residents have died of covid in hospitals in the Alpes-Maritimes and 468 in nursing homes.

Level 5 triggered in hospitals in the PACA region as they struggle to cope with the wave of covid patients – Meanwhile the regional health agency for the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region has triggered level 5 in the region's hospitals. This is the highest level triggered in order to cope with hospital admissions and due to the new wave of covid patients all non-urgent intervention have been deprogrammed. The lack of beds, as well as staff has led to the decision and according to Professor Richard Nicollas, medical director of the Covid 19 crisis at the AP-HM (University Hospitals of Marseille) this is a critical situation, reminiscent of the first wave of March 2020.

Patients transferred to other regions - Medical transfers are also multiplying in an attempt to relieve hospitals in the PACA region with the Regional Health Agency (ARS) authorising the transfer of three new patients, hospitalized in intensive care in the Bouches-du-Rhônes. These medical transfers will take place today Wednesday 22nd December. The patients will be transferred to hospitals in Brittany and Normandy.

Obligation to wear a mask extended - The obligation to wear a mask in the Alpes-Maritimes has been renewed until the 5th January. The obligation concerns everyone from 11 eleven years of age. The wearing of a mask is compulsory indoors in all establishments open to the public. When physical distancing of at least two metres between people is possible, the wearing of a mask is not compulsory in urban green spaces, and the coastline. Full details of the measures are available on the Prefecture's website

European Commission – Meanwhile the European Commission has adopted binding rules that will make the European Union Covid-19 certificate valid for travel nine months after the completion of the primary vaccination schedule. The proposal announced on Tuesday comes as several EU states have introduced additional requirements on travellers in a bid to reduce the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The new rules will be mandatory on all 27 EU states from 1 February.

As countries around the world continue the battle with covid, several have announced new measures on Tuesday; Israel are to introduce a fourth dose of the covid vaccine for over 60s and caregivers; Spain on Tuesday confirmed a record of 49,823 covid cases; England announced that "no new restrictions were in sight for Christmas; Scotland cancelled New Year festivities and introduced new steps; Portugal is to close bars and nightclubs from next week and in Germany, no more than ten vaccinated guests will be allowed for the New Year.

Belgian man stopped after trying to get ninth covid vaccination – A Belgian man has been arrested after going for his ninth covid vaccine. Staff at a vaccination centre in Belgium alerted authorities after realising he was on his ninth jab. While some do not want the vaccine this individual was on his ninth. It turned out that he had already been vaccinated eight times with different identity cards and was therefore charging a fee to unvaccinated people in order to obtain a "Covid Safe Ticket" for them. The Covid Safe Ticket is the equivalent of the health pass in France, which became mandatory on November 1st throughout Belgium.

In other news

International sexual predator arrested in La Seyne - A 71-year-old British sex offender wanted by Interpol has been arrested in La Seyne-sur-mer in the Var. The man registered on both the US and UKs sex offender list was stopped by police after carrying out a sexual assault in a supermarket. With several identities in France the sexual predator will appear in court in Toulon.

Electric scooters - Two people have lost their lives while riding electric scooters in less than a week in the Alpes Maritimes. On Tuesday a 47-year-old man died after falling from his electric scooter in the centre of Nice just three days after a 27-year-old woman was killed after being hit by a truck while riding an electric scooter on the RN7 in Villeneuve Loubet. In 2020 nearly 870 accidents were recorded in France by the Minister of the Interior, mainly in Paris, which left eight people dead. In the Alpes Maritimes seven accidents were recorded in 2020 five of which were serious.

Checks on A8 motorway - Meanwhile police carrying out road checks on the A8 motorway at the Nice-Saint Isidore pay toll on Tuesday, recorded forty violations in just two hours, fifteen of which were heavy goods vehicles illegally overtaking and several motorists speeding. The stretch of motorway is considered to be among the most dangerous in France. Police have warned that they will be stepping up security along with checks in the area throughout the holidays.

Jean Alesi placed in police custody for "joke that went wrong" - Former Formula One driver Jean Alesi has been taken into police custody in Avignon after what he claims to have been "a joke which went wrong". Alesi was questioned by police on Tuesday afternoon after causing considerable damage from setting off a large firework in front of his brother-in-law's office. The former driver who lives in the region, said he wanted to "play a joke on his brother-in-law who is in the process of separating from his sister" assuring officers that he "is not on bad terms with him". The "bad joke" however caused considerable damage and resulted in the brother-in-law filing a complaint.

Festive greeting from HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco - HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco has shared a sketched Christmas portrait of her family and 'wished everyone a beautiful and safe festive season', while still receiving treatment for "both emotional and physical exhaustion". The Instagram post showed a beautiful artwork of the family posing next to an elaborately decorated Christmas tree. Charlene captioned the design with: 'Wishing everyone a beautiful and safe festive season, all my love.'


Faced with the wave of contamination related to the Omicron variant, many countries are taking new restrictions for foreign travellers and as a result the French government has unveiled a specific aid scheme for the sector.

Tourism is one of the sectors still affected by the health crisis, as are events and indoor leisure companies. For them, the government has decided on "specific support" measures for the month of December, with coverage of their fixed costs if their loss of turnover exceeds 50%. This device will compensate 90% (70% for companies with more than 50 employees) of the operating loss.

Like Leclerc, Lidl is a candidate for the sale of Covid-19 self-tests in France and speaking to French media the executive director of purchasing and marketing of Lidl France, Michel Biero, said that "it would be good for the French if they are able to sell them as they have masks, before adding that the sale of self-tests would not be intended "to make money" and that they would "sell them at cost price".

The world's biggest fast food company McDonald's is suffering a chip shortage in Japan due to the global supply chain crisis. The firm has said it is experiencing delays of shipments of the potatoes used to make its famous French fries. As a result it will only sell small portions of its French fries in Japan from Friday until 30 December.


Football - Barcelona ended a torrid 2021 in disappointing fashion with a La Liga 1-1 draw against ten-man Sevilla

Cricket - England fast bowler Jofra Archer has been ruled out until the summer after having a second operation on his long-standing right elbow injury. The England and Wales Cricket Board said Archer will not be available for the rest of England's winter series.

Formula One - Mick Schumacher will take on the role as Ferrari's reserve driver. The 22-year-old German will share the Ferrari reserve position with former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi.


Sunny with a moderate breeze. Highs of 14 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Saint Tropez. This evening going down to 4 degrees and clear skies.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday. Tomorrow fine -highs of 13 degrees. Light showers are forecast for Christmas Eve highs of 15 degrees.

And Finally

A poll in the UK has determined what the Brits consider to be the ideal Christmas Day. It shows that the day would involve waking up at 8am, sitting down to lunch by 2.30pm, and four inches of snow. A glass of champagne would be served at 10.28am, with board games commencing straight after the main meal and at least two festive films watched during the day. There would ideally be 13 presents to open and at least two mince pies eaten.




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