French and Riviera News Wednesday July 28th 2021

No bar closures-The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has said that there are no plans at the moment to order bars and restaurants to close early to slow the spread of coronavirus.

In an interview with France Bleu Radio , Bernard Gonzalez said that the local economy needed people to be spending money and he hoped that measures already taken such as the reintroduction of mask wearing in outdoor spaces would have the desired effect.

Some departments in France including the Haut Corse have already ordered bars and restaurants to close early in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.

Mr Gonzalez said that he hopes the message is getting through to the public about the seriousness of the situation adding that this week will be “key”.

Cases of the delta variant have been skyrocketing in the past week and are up by 246 percent in the past 7 days.

Hospital occupancy rates are also creeping up but are not yet anywhere nearing capacity.

 

Delta variant- The delta variant is responsible for 95 percent of all new coronavirus cases on the Côte d’Azur.

Public Health France says that young adults aged between 20 and 29 are still the most at risk of contracting the virus with an infection rate of 2,100 per 100,000 people.

Other age groups are also being seriously affected with the infection rate in 10 to 19 year olds now at 863 per 100,000 people , an increase of 154 percent in a week and 788 infections per 100,000 people in the 30 to 39 year old group which is an increase of 263 percent in one week alone.

Older people are also being affected again with cases up by 563 percent in the 70 to 79 year old age group and by 165 percent for 80 to 89 year olds.

The variant , which is far more contagious than previous strains is overwhelmingly responsible for the current 4th wave of the pandemic sweeping across France.

Reports say that some areas of the country have been unable to keep up with the demand for vaccines and supplies of  Pfizer and Moderna shots are running low in several departments.

France reported nearly 27,000 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

 

Monaco-The Monaco government has announced that residents and workers will be required to present a health pass at any bar or restaurant in the Principality from the 23rd of August.

The measure is already in force for visitors from the Alpes Maritimes and the Imperia region of Italy and the government says that it has no option but to extend the requirement as cases of Covid-19 rise.

Mask wearing is mandatory for everyone over the age of 5 in outdoor spaces except on beaches and by the side of swimming pools.

15 people are currently being treated in hospital in Monaco for the virus including 7 residents.The majority have not been vaccinated and are mainly young adults.

 

Gas prices- The price of gas is going up again.

From the 1st of August there will be a 1.6 percent increase in prices for customers who use gas for cooking only , 3.3 percent for households using gas for cooking and hot water and 5.5 percent for people with gas fired central heating.

Retail gas prices have been rising rapidly over the past few months as the economy picks up and wholesale prices increase.

Other factors including maintenance of North Sea rigs , the increased use of gas to produce electricity and a colder than usual spring in parts of Europe have also put pressure on prices.

 

Fires- Forest rangers in the Var say that woodland is extremely dry and are urging the public to be extra vigilant over the coming weeks.

85 percent of forest fires are started by people either deliberately or by accident and smokers are some of the worst culprits.

Authorities say that there are still far too many people casually tossing away cigarette ends from car windows or even in protected woodland areas.

They are urging people to think carefully about the consequences of their actions especially now that the evidence of climate change has become indisputable.

Most fires start by the side of a road before spreading to nearby trees and are often the result of careless actions by people in cars or on bikes.

 

World Heritage Site- The city of Nice has finally been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , highlighting its history as a tourist destination since the 18th century , a winter resort and its development between 1760 and 1960.

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi says that he’s delighted with the news and said that recent efforts to modernise the city and reintroduce green spaces had “paid off”.

A new style of urban planning emerged in Nice from the late 18th century which transformed the city into a popular year round resort thanks to its mild winters.

Mr Estrosi says that work to further modernise Nice and to restore its most beautiful older buildings from the Belle Epoque will continue.

A bid to make Nice the European Capital of Culture in 2028 is also underway.

 

Jobless total down - Unemployment fell by 1.3 percent in the second quarter according to figures published by the Employment Ministry.

The data shows that 50,600 people stopped claiming benefit bringing the jobless total down to 3.75 million.

When figures for people only working part time are included, the number rises to 5.984 million.

Hiring increased by 16.9 percent in the second quarter suggesting that firms are becoming  more positive about the economic outlook.

 

On the mend-A British rugby player who suffered life threatening injuries after the scrum collapsed on top of him in April is slowly recovering.

James Lasis was playing for Nice in the French third division when the accident happened leaving him with a severe neck injury.

The 25 year old  could only communicate by winking initially but is now able to whisper and says that he’s getting better “day by day”.

He’s now learning how to breathe on his own again and sensation is slowly returning to his body.

Nice Rugby Club set up a fundraising effort for James to help pay for his hospital treatment and have so far raised more than 27,000 euros.

 

Business.

 

The International Monetary Fund  has maintained its 6% global growth forecast for 2021 and upgraded its outlook for the United States and other wealthy economies.

However, the outlook for a number of developing countries is not so bright amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.

The IMF says the divergence is largely based on better access to vaccines and continued fiscal  support in advanced economies.

The organisation has significantly raised its forecast for the United States which it now expects to grow at 7% in 2021 and by 4.9% in 2022 up from 0.6 and 1.4 percentage points respectively from the last estimate in April.

The Fund has cut its 2021 growth forecast for India which has struggled with a massive wave of infections by 3 percent to 9.5 %.

There are also lower prospects for Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam where COVID-19 infections are also away on activity.

The 2021 growth prediction for Asia as a whole has been cut by 1.1% from April to 7.5%.

 

The industrial conglomerate General Electric has said that it is facing inflationary pressure that is set to intensify for the rest of the year.

The comments from the Boston-based firm came from chief executive Larry Culp who said that GE is managing the inflationary pressure through a combination of price increases, better sourcing of parts and raw materials, elimination of waste and higher productivity.

The firm is drawing up mitigation measures as it expects a supply chain logjam to persist into 2022.

The aviation business which is usually General Electric’s biggest earner has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic but Mr Culp said that the business is showing early signs of recovery with engines and service orders up by 47% from a year ago.

Shares in GE rose by 4% on the news to 13 dollars 43.

 

And-The UK supermarket chain Tesco is offering a £1000 joining bonus to HGV drivers amid a chronic shortage in the industry.

Tesco says the bonus will be available to drivers who join before the 30th of September.

Other firms are also reported to be offering similar incentives for truck drivers after disruption to supply chains led to product shortages.

The UK Road Haulage  Association has estimated there is a 100,000 HGV driver shortage across the country.

The RHA said that some 30,000 HGV driving tests did not take place last year because of the pandemic adding to a historic shortage of drivers exacerbated by changes to rules following Brexit.

The managing director of the RHA, Rod McKenzie said a package of measures is required to tackle driver shortages including conducting more tests and creating short-term visas for drivers from overseas to work in the UK.

 

Sport.

 

Olympics –It’s day 5 of the Olympic Games in Tokyo with Japan, the USA and China all still showing strongly in the medals table.

Meanwhile team GB has had its best ever start to an Olympic Games with four gold medals so far in a total tally of 14.

Today, there is action in artistic gymnastics, basketball, time trial cycling, fencing, judo, rowing, the rugby sevens and swimming with a total of 23 medals available in the different events.

 

Cricket-The former England fast bowler Mike Hendrick has died at the age of 72.

Hendrick took 80 wickets in 30 Tests for England between 1974 and 1981.

He was part of 3 winning Ashes teams and appeared in 22 one day internationals.

He’s been suffering from bowel and liver cancer for some time.

 

Rugby union –The British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named his side for the second Test against South Africa on Saturday.

Gatland has made three changes to the team that beat the Springboks in the first Test.

Prop Mako Vunipola starts in place of Rory Sutherland while Connor Murray comes in for Ali Price at scrum half and Chris Harris replaces Elliot Daly in the centre.

Fly half Dan Biggar is named in the starting lineup but has to pass concussion protocols first so Owen Farrell is standing by.

One more win would give the Lions a famous series victory.

The Springboks have also made three changes to their side with Steven Kitshoff , Frans Malherbe and Jasper Wiese all coming in.

 

Football – Celtic are in action this evening in the European Champions League second round qualifying second leg tie.

The Scottish giants visit FC Midtjylland with the score tied at 1-1 from the first leg. Kick off is at 7.45 French time.

 

Formula One - Red Bull  have asked for a review of the penalty handed to Lewis Hamilton after he collided with Max Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix.

Hamilton was handed a 10 second penalty for the offence after stewards found that he had been predominantly to blame for the incident.

Red Bull want the penalty increased but will have to present new evidence if they want to see the 7 time world champion punished further.

Both Red Bull and Mercedes have been summoned to appear before stewards via video link on Thursday.

Verstappen required a hospital check up after the high speed crash demolished his car and later labelled Hamilton as “disrespectful”.

 

Weather.

 

Partially cloudy with light to moderate south easterly winds.

Top temperatures 28-30 degrees in coastal areas and up to 33 degrees inland.

Overnight lows of 21-23 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Mainly fine with highs of 28-30 on the coast and 33 degrees inland.

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