Weekly UK Media, Travel, Consumer & Social Update — 25 March, 2021
Accurate as of: 25 March 2021
Current UK status:
Visit https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ for all official information.
- As of 4pm on 24 March 2021, a total of 114,841,325 coronavirus (COVID-19) tests have been conducted in the UK. 4,312,908 people have tested positive.
- 28,653,523 people have had their first dose of the vaccination, while 2,532,839 have been fully vaccinated.
- 126,382 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.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that he may announce on 5 April whether holidays abroad this summer will be possible, a week ahead of the date on which the government’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to report. (Travel Weekly)
- On 25 March, MPs will vote on new Covid legislation which will specifically make it illegal to travel abroad without an essential reason. This legislation will be in place until 30 June, but the Government could decide to end it earlier. Anyone caught attempting to travel abroad without an official exemption from next week can be fined £5,000. (iNews)
- Pub goers could be asked to provide a vaccine certificate, Boris Johnson has told MPs, saying it “may be up to individual publicans.” (BBC)
- A study commissioned by a consortium of airlines, airports and aviation industry bodies has concluded Covid-19 testing can “enable a safe restart of international travel this summer” while limiting the risks posed by variants as opposed to lockdowns and travel bans. (Travel Weekly)
- The global travel and tourism sector suffered a loss of almost $4.5 trillion last year due to the “devastating” impact of Covid-19. More than 62 million jobs were lost, representing a year-on-year drop of 18.5%, leaving just 272 million employed across the industry globally. (Travel Weekly)
- Boris Johnson warned “things are looking difficult on the Continent” when questioned by MPs yesterday on the prospects of holidays abroad this summer, following rising levels of Covid throughout Europe. (Travel Weekly)
- The Guardian has published a list of travel trends following a year of lockdown in the UK. (The Guardian)
- Tui has reduced its capacity for this summer from 80% to 75% of 2019’s level, with summer bookings appearing to have stalled. (Travel Weekly) Meanwhile, Ryanair plans to operate 80% of its normal UK capacity during the summer 2021 peak. (TTG)
- Kuoni is relaunching their flexible booking pledge amid travel uncertainty. Flex+ allows holidays to be cancelled or changed up to 10 days before long-haul travel and up to 21 days before European trips for any reason. (TTG)
- Facebook has cracked down on a group of hackers from China, known as ‘Evil Eye’ because they’ve clearly watched the same Western spy movies we have, that targeted Uighurs from Xinjiang who are now living abroad. The group distributed links to malware that allowed for device surveillance outside China. This kind of data security threat is exactly what brought TikTok to the edge of extinction in the United States last year, but the Biden Administration hasn’t flagged any follow-up.
- Related, Facebook’s also announced stricter rules for Groups, including restricting the reach of rule-breaking Groups and members, join request reviews, and Facebook-wide Group bans for members who repeatedly violate terms.
- Facebook’s also looking to launch audio-only rooms, like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, to capitalise on the growth of the social audio trend. Twitter’s said Spaces will open to all users in April and Clubhouse is supporting a few top-tier creators so keep an eye on the space if you’re keen.
- Facebook’s also testing a Green Screen option for Facebook Stories, so you can upload an image from your camera roll as the background for a story that you can then film yourself over the top. This is already live on Instagram and TikTok and Twitter’s working a similar feature that lets you share tweets to Fleets with a background image.
- Meanwhile, Instagram is apparently working on a separate kid-friendly version of the app. Users under 13 aren’t allowed to sign up (if they’re being honest…) but apparently so many kids try to join that Instagram head Adam Mosseri considers building a separate version a workable solution. Instagram launched new tools to better protect younger users last week but, as Social Media Today notes, perhaps the fact the app needs to do so much to keep kids safe means that a separate kids-only version won’t solve for bullying and harassment.
- Instagram also announced that Stories Drafts are coming soon, so rather than having to just discard and start all over when you realise you need a little more for that final panache, you can just pull your Story back from a draft. Finally.
- On other social apps in a different shade of blue, Twitter is working on a Reddit-style upvote and downvote system but with emojis instead of simple arrows. Other platforms, like Facebook, have tried emulating upvoting and downvoting a few times and it never quite seems to stick except for on Reddit, where this is the core engagement mechanic. Changes to Twitter’s engagement hooks aren’t generally well-received, like when they changed ‘hearting’ to ‘liking’ but they are rolling out tons and tons of new features, probably to see what sticks, so stay tuned.
- As Twitter continues to grapple with the fallout of Trump’s presidency on the platform, they’re taking public feedback on policy approaches to public figures’ tweets.
- The bird app is also working on a dedicated tab for Spaces so you can find interesting public conversations in an area dedicated to their discovery. Clubhouse remains the killer app for public audio conversations but Twitter’s keen to capitalise, as are Facebook as per the above.
- Speaking of Clubhouse: in their latest Town Hall, a Clubhouse room hosted by the app’s co-founders for discussing their upcoming plans, co-founder Paul Davison said that the app’s expansion to Android is still a few months away. They’re also looking to do away with the invite-only access scheme soon as Twitter and Facebook circle with their bigger, more established audiences who might be keen to devour Clubhouse’s userbase.