Weekly UK Media, Travel, Consumer & Social Update — 26 February, 2021
Accurate as of: 25 February 2021
Current UK status:
Visit https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ for all official information.
- As of 4pm on 17 February 2021, a total of 84,392,344 coronavirus (COVID-19) tests have been conducted in the UK. 4,144,577 people have tested positive.
- 18,242,873 people have had their first dose of the vaccination, while 669,105 have been fully vaccinated.
- 121,747 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
- As of 5 January, the whole UK has re-entered national lockdown, with schools reopening on 8 March
- Guidance for the current lockdown rules in England can be found
UK travel restrictions:
Visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office for all official information.
- Boris Johnson has laid out a roadmap out of lockdown, with key touchstones to open up the country on 8 March, 29 March, 12 April, 17 May and 21 June.
- Currently, UK residents can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where they first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, they should consider the public health advice in the country they are visiting.
- UK residents cannot leave their home or the place where they are living for holidays or overnight stays unless they have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.
- In order to enter the UK, a negative Covid-19 test must be completed 72 hours before travel and presented to staff on planes, trains, and ferries in order to board. A further two tests must be completed at the travellers’ expense during their quarantine before they can return to day-to-day life.
- People entering the UK from high-risk countries, or “red” countries, will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 10 days.
- On 22 February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown for England. After the first stage in March, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met – such as the vaccine rollout going to plan. The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted, which will happen by 21 June at the earliest. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also announced details of Scotland’s path out of lockdown, with restaurants and non-essential shops opening on 26 April at the earliest. Northern Ireland and Wales will outline their plans in the coming weeks. (BBC)
- Greece is in “technical” talks with the UK over allowing Britons carrying a vaccine passport to travel to its tourist hotspots from May despite concerns in Brussels and other EU capitals. Haris Theoharis, the country’s Tourism Minister, said he hoped to “dovetail” with Boris Johnson’s roadmap for allowing Britons to travel but refused to be drawn on whether Greece would break with Brussels to establish the scheme. (Guardian)
- Spain hopes to welcome back British tourists this summer, the country’s Tourism Secretary of State, Fernando Valdes, has said. Mr Valdes confirmed Spain was canvassing the European Union and the Organisation for Economically Developed Countries to agree to a system of vaccine passports to increase tourists’ mobility. Spain will not bar tourists if they do not have proof they have been inoculated, he stressed, saying they would be part of a series of measures to allow British holidaymakers to return to the coasts. “We are defending this approach and we would like to coordinate these works with the British government.” (Independent)
- Jet2 has reported a 1000% increase in sales following the lockdown announcement – despite an official start to foreign holidays still to be given. Spain, including the islands, is one of the most popular bookings for Brits, along with Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. (Sun)
- Michael Gove will lead a review into vaccine passports, Boris Johnson has confirmed. However, the Prime Minister admitted “fervent libertarians” would object to any proposals to use certificates of immunity to unlock parts of the economy from Covid-19 restrictions. He also said it would be wrong to “discriminate” against people who can’t – or won’t – get vaccinated. (Mirror)
- The catering and domestic hospitality industry has expressed disappointment as full reopening in England has put on hold until May without an extension to the furlough scheme. Elizabeth Haigh, operator of Mei Mei London in Borough Market, said: “If most restaurants are not allowed to operate as fully as possible until mid-May, there’s going to be this gap in between when we’re going to be short of work, money and hours for our staff. There needs to be more extended support for the furlough scheme and, if possible, an extension to the VAT cut.” (The Caterer)
- Meanwhile, travel industry leaders have largely welcomed the government’s roadmap for reopening the economy, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Tim Alderslade, chief executive of airline association Airlines UK, said: “We’re grateful to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport for providing the clarity the sector was looking for that international travel can reopen this summer, as soon as it is safe to do so.” (Travel Weekly)
- Home Secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to book holidays, only a day after the industry saw booming sales as the 17 May restart was pencilled in. Asked what her advice would be to those booking holidays now, Patel replied: “Well, it’s too early, it’s far too early. We have to look at the data at every single stage and the roadmap outlined by the Prime Minister makes that abundantly clear.” (TTG)
- After last week’s sudden clamp down on a super broad definition of ‘news Pages’ in Australia, Facebook is restoring those Pages. Some non-news businesses fell under this blunt scope so the banhammer is lifting, even as both houses of Parliament pass the News Media Bargaining Code that prompted the move in the first place. Pages should start being restored next Tuesday.
- The gist of the amendments to the Code is that platforms now have two months to make a deal with a publisher before being taken to government arbitration so there is still an element of market negotiation available but it’s still unclear what constitutes a ‘publisher’.
- In more straightforward news, you can now embed Pinterest pins into Microsoft Word and OneNote if you’d like to. OneNote makes a lot of sense given its use as a virtual notebook and people do use Word in the same way, but the functionality only works on the web version of the app. Microsoft says teachers in particular have been calling out for this tech.
- LinkedIn is rolling out new Pages Updates to help build your ‘brand’s Community.’ Internal research apparently shows employees are 60% more likely to engage with posts from coworkers and 14x more likely to their employers’ content than other brands’ content so the new My Company tab is all about encouraging that sense of office community. They’re also expanding LinkedIn Stories into Stories for Pages — including ‘swipe up’ links for all Pages from the outset.
- Twitter’s also relaunching their warning test of potentially harmful tweet replies. They experimented with the warnings last year but they’re returning the format now for tweets that have ‘harmful or offensive’ language within them. Their test last year of ‘Read first before tweeting’ warnings meant that people opened articles 40% more after seeing the prompt. You might also have seen their new ‘Potentially hacked material’ warning but it’s less clear what constitutes ‘hacked material’ especially given that apparently innocuous vibes and screengrabs are triggering it.
- Facebook is rolling out the in-app Shop section to businesses in the UK and Canada. It’s another step further down the native ecommerce road but expect Facebook Pay to start jumping into the middle to recoup some of the foregone advertising costs that the company would have otherwise needed businesses to spend for such straightforward sales.
- Facebook’s also announced new measures to crack down upon and remove child exploitation material. Based on learnings from working with authorities on abusive material to date, the social network is rolling out new policies that include a series of warnings on searches and engagement with certain content, improved detection capabilities, and new reporting tools. It’s unfortunate and disappointing that Facebook has to do this at all but any platform with more than three billion users inevitably has to deal with malevolence.
- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, has just published a new, comprehensive State of Small Business report to investigate the impact COVID-19 had — and continues to have — throughout the US.
- Meanwhile, upstart live audio platform Clubhouse has come under fire for data security breaches. Not unlike Zoom early last year, the platform’s huge growth inevitably means there’ll be some teething issues and data security keeps being a big one for growing networks. This particular breach was courtesy of a user streaming Clubhouse audio feeds from rooms straight to their own website but previous breaches have included Clubhouse audio being made available straight through GitHub. Similarly to TikTok data concerns last year, Clubhouse is routing a lot of its back-end through China. If you’re still not on the Clubhouse train because of data security reservations— or because you don’t yet have an invite — don’t forget about Twitter Spaces.
- On the flipside of the audio content spectrum, Spotify is working on a tool to convert written blog posts — like this one — from WordPress into audio content. Spotify owns popular podcast distribution network Anchor through which this tool would work. And given Spotify’s massive investment in podcast king Joe Rogan last year, expect to see them continue to commit to the podcast space as everyone else on the Internet scrambles to produce as much owned content as possible because Netflix is what we all want to be. As part of the WordPress integration rollout, Spotify’s also letting more users add video to their podcasts which might remind of you another popular medium — television.