French and Riviera News Wednesday 30th June 2021

News

Today marks the last stage in the end of lockdown in France – In France the last stage of the end of lockdown begins today Wednesday June 30th, with restrictions largely being lifted in places open to the public seeing bars, cafes and restaurants able to return to 100% capacity. It will also now be possible to stand at concerts and festivals and there are no more restrictions for wedding celebrations. Wearing a mask remains compulsory when circulating inside establishments and on the terrace. In addition, serving and drinking while standing at the bar remains prohibited.

From small stores to large shopping centers, it is no longer necessary for businesses to respect the limit of 4m² per customer. The same applies to covered markets (restrictions for open markets have been lifted since June 9th). Wearing a mask remains compulsory, including in open markets and outside queues.

Cruises will be able to resume, however for those accommodating more than 1,000 people, the use of the health pass is compulsory.

Will have to wait a little longer for nightclubs - But we will have to wait a little longer to go out to a nightclub. The nightclubs will not reopen their doors until July 9th with a specific sanitary protocol.

Sales – Today Wednesday June 30th, also marks the first day of the summer sales in France. The sales which had been postponed due to the health crisis will last four weeks from today.

Warning due to Delta variant - As the end of restrictions comes into effect the Head of State has warned that the worrying spread of the Delta variant could call into question the lifting of restrictions in certain affected regions of France.

Vaccination campaign - On the vaccination front half of the French population has now received at least one dose of vaccine, according to Public Health France. France passes the 50% mark with 33.7 million people having received an injection.

Government once again threatens to make vaccination compulsory for health workers – Meanwhile the French government has once again threatened to make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory for caregivers, if their primary vaccination coverage had still not reached 80% at the start of the September school year. The government wants "at least 80%" of staff in nursing homes and hospitals to be vaccinated against covid "by September", failing which it will open "the way of an obligation". Ministers have warned that it "is insufficient and is not a normal situation".

Researchers warn of fourth wave - The warning comes as researchers from the Institute Pasteur say that "some level of epidemic control may be needed this fall," if the population is not vaccinated enough, adding that a significant peak in hospitalisations is possible in the absence of any measures to control the epidemic"  If vaccination coverage does not improve, and no restrictions are taken at the start of the school year, the researchers therefore predict a new peak in hospitalization in the fall, which could approach that experienced during the second wave in the fall of 2020, with more than 2,500 daily hospitalizations. In the absence of sufficient vaccination coverage, the Institut Pasteur recommends, for example, setting up a policy of massive testing to limit the spread.

Investment into research and innovation - On Tuesday French President Emmanuel Macron announced a plan of several billion euros for research and innovation. Macron said that the State will invest nearly four billion euros in its Health 2030 strategy, a plan to boost research and innovation in health, including more than four billion public funds for research. The latter will be supplemented by four to five billion private funds, the move comes after France’s failure to quickly discover a vaccine against covid.

New law - A new law passed on Tuesday after two years of debate will now allow lesbian couples and single women in France be given access to fertility procedures. Previously under French law, only heterosexual couples had the right to medical assistance for reproduction. The Inter-LGBT association said it welcomes the change.

Pianos to return to train stations - The SNCF has announced that pianos are to return to French train stations tomorrow, Thursday July 1st. Removed due to the pandemic the reintroduction will be celebrated with a nationwide event, seeing 50 stations in France hold a special concert on July 1st to celebrate the musical comeback.

Business

US consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in nearly one and a half  years in June as growing labour market optimism amid the reopening economy offset concerns about higher inflation. The survey from the US Conference Board on Tuesday also showed an increase in appetite for long-lasting manufactured goods such as cars and household appliances suggesting strong momentum in the economy at the end of the second quarter. Property sales also increased in a sign that house prices will continue to increase rapidly as supply lags. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped to a reading of 127.3 in June, the highest level since February 2020. The survey places more emphasis on the labour market which is steadily recovering from the pandemic.

The dollar has hung onto recent gains today as concerns over coronavirus raised market uncertainty ahead of the non-farm payroll numbers which are due out on Friday. Risk sensitive commodity currencies have fallen with the Australian and New Zealand dollars each dropping by around 0.7%. The euro fell 0.2% while the safe havens of the Japanese yen and the Swiss Franc held steady. The dollar index rose by 0.2% to a one week high earlier this morning and is currently in the middle of the range that it’s found in the wake of the hawkish shift in tone from the Federal Reserve earlier this month. Strength in the labour market could add pressure on the US central bank to move even sooner on interest rate hikes which would lift the dollar even further.

UK households increased their borrowing in May for the first time in eight months as the easing of lockdown rules coincided with a fall in loan interest rates. Figures from the Bank of England show the first significant credit spending surge since last August as a run of net repayments by households came to an end in May. Car finance deals and personal loans are behind most of the increase and came after the rates on new personal loans fell to 5.61% compared with an interest rate of 7.03% in January 2020. The debt charity Stepchange says some of the rise in borrowing came from the needs of poorer households who have suffered a loss of income during the pandemic. It said 6.3 million people who had experienced a fall in income had had to borrow to make ends meet.

Sport

Euro 2020 – England are through to the quarter-finals of the tournament after beating Germany 2–0 at Wembley Stadium last night. Both goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane came in the second half as England laid to rest old ghosts and beat their greatest rivals for the first time in a major tournament knockout phase since 1966.

The other round of 16 game last night saw Ukraine beat Sweden 2–1 after extra time.

So in the quarter-finals Switzerland play Spain and Belgium play Italy on Friday while on Saturday the Czech Republic play Denmark and England play Ukraine.

Tennis – Serena Williams will have to wait for that record equalling 24th grand slam title after she was forced to withdraw through injury. The 39-year-old started her match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with heavy strapping on her thigh and slipped in the fifth game. She went down again in the seventh game and was overcome by emotion before having to retire. Williams was given a standing ovation by centre court as she left.

Several players have raised concerns about the slippery conditions on the centre court baseline. Roger Federer avoided a huge Wimbledon upset after his French opponent Adrian Mannarino slipped and injured his knee while leading two sets to one and 4–2 in the fourth and was forced to retire.

Elsewhere there were first round wins for Ashleigh Barty and Venus Williams in the women’s competition while in the men’s event Dan Evans of Great Britain and Daniil Medvedev of Russia moved through.

Cycling – Mark Cavendish has won his first Tour de France stage for five years in a sprint finish on stage four at Fougeres. The Manxman finished ahead of Nacer Bouhanni and Jasper Philipsen. Mathieu van der Poel retains the leader’s yellow jersey with an 8 second advantage over Julian Alaphilippe of France. Today’s 5th stage is a 27.2 kilometre individual time trial between Mayenne and Laval.

Formula 1 – Mercedes say that they do have performance upgrades for the car as they seek to keep up with Red Bull in the world championship fight. Team principal Toto Wolff said after last weekend‘s Styrian Grand Prix that the team had switched to focus on the 2022 car. Lewis Hamilton has been calling for upgrades as he seeks a record-breaking eighth drivers’ championship. The team’s technical boss James Alison says that they have a number of things that will make the car faster in the coming races and that upgrades would be available on both the chassis and engine side. Hamilton trails Max Verstappen by 18 points heading into this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate to strong westerly winds. Top temperatures 30-32 degrees. Overnight lows of 21-22 degrees with clear skies.

Thursday and Friday - Clear skies with highs of 26-30 degrees.

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