Following the cycling booms that occurred during lockdowns right the way across Europe, Cardiff in Wales has been named the UK’s most bike friendly city by route-finding app Komoot!
Participants were asked to rate a range of factors including cycling infrastructure, such as cycle lanes and signage, local cycling facilities, countryside accessibility and their sense of personal safety when it comes to cycling in the city.
The Food of Quarantine
The BBC took a look at the kind of foods being delivered to the rooms of those quarantining around the world. Spoiler: It largely resembles a cross between plane food, hospital food and a classic British school dinner… Yum?
Let us know on Twitter if you experienced this kind of quarantine food and what you thought of it!
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
India, who otherwise make and distribute around 60% of the world’s vaccines, have announced that they are just weeks away from beginning to export their own vaccine for the coronavirus.
Main image: Cardiff Ajax and Arbis heading for top 10s, Jun, Flickr Creative Commons
Borderlines: Stop the Spread!
Following the emergence of an allegedly more contagious strain of COVID-19, multiple nations have put the shutters down with the UK.
After a hard year of restrictions of varying degrees, in places all around the globe, it is time to revisit the ever changing history of the world’s borders and barriers!
This episode of the Globe Guides explores the theme of Borderlines!
From Historic walled cities such asFez and Jerusalem, to divided capitals such as Berlin and Nicosia, this show uncovers the history behind these division and the reason why many of them remain to this day.
Megan McCormick visits theGreat Wall of China while Ian Wright takes a trip to the DMZ in Korea. Justine Shapiro and Megan both learn about the history and future of the Berlin wall in Germany, while Zay Harding see one of the world’s most recently constructed walls, the West Bank barrier, and learns about the effect that its construction has caused.
Healthcare providers in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States among others have ramped up efforts to vaccinate vulnerable people against the Coronavirus since a number of vaccines, each from different pharmaceutical companies and research teams, have been approved for use.
Meanwhile, the so-called COVAX initiative has set out to help provide poorer nations with a share of the global supply.
Run, Forrest! Run!
More Coronavirus News & Statistics
Europe tightens COVID restrictions ahead of Christmas. Germany will return to a national lockdown until January 10th, but with the restrictions relaxed slightly from 24 to 26 December, allowing a limited amount of festive household mixing.
Main image: B-18007 China Airlines with special Boeing livery Boeing 777-309(ER) coming in from Taipei (TPE) @ Frankfurt (FRA) / 01.06.2018, Oliver Holzbauer, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
Travel, Explore, Defer?
For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!
As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.
However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.
In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!
Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.
Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World
Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.
COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.
Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.
“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 2, 2020
Al-Aqsa Mosque Reopens After 2 Months of Lockdown
Jerusalems’s Al-Aqsa mosque has reopened to both worshipers and visitors after months of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Council of Islamic Waqf – who manage the Muslim sites on the holy Temple Mount complex – have said that due to a drastically slowed spread of the virus in its nearby vicinity, that the mosque can now reopen with adjustments made to how worshipers and visitors use it.
In order to reduce the risk of future spread at Islam’s third-holiest site, some of the precautionary measures that will be implemented include the compulsory use of face masks and bringing personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.
Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, is a highly important site for all Abrahamic religions.
Muslims revere the site, believing that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven there on a miraculous night journey. It is also the holiest site to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and believe it to be the location of two biblical temples. Resultingly, the ‘ownership’ and use of the site has been a central issue within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
The UK’s bicycle industry says it has seen an “enormous” increase in the use and sale of bikes during the coronavirus lockdown, with some retailers reporting a 40% uplift in sales!
Officials and medical professionals have expressed concern that the widespread George Floyd protests in the USA will see a dramatic increase in new coronavirus cases.
Germany lifts travel restrictions to the UK and the USA as individual regions begin to unlock!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened to tourists on May 30.
Greece and the Greek Islands (including Crete) are set to lift the 2-week quarantine requirements for foreign tourists on July 1 with a view to kick-starting the seasonal tourism which makes up around 18% of Greece’s GDP!
Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.
One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.
Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.
However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.
The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.
Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.
With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!
Main image: Malbec Wines from Mendoza’s Vineyards, Pilot Productions
By Sofi Summers
Consumer Brands Save the Day Amid Hand Sanitiser Shortages
As stocks of hand sanitiser gel begin to run dangerously low across the world amid the COVID-19 outbreak and spread, many alcohol producing companies and companies with denatured-alcohol licences and supplies of alcohol have pivoted their businesses to try to help close the gap – especially for health professionals and those most at risk. This mixture of small and large businesses show us all how lending a helping hand can make a huge difference.
BrewDog is a beer and spirits manufacturer based in Ellon in Scotland, and have switched their production lines to produce alcohol hand-gel totally free of charge to ‘those who need it’ across local charities and the community. The first batch of hand sanitiser was delivered to Aberdeen hospital to help the hard working staff stay safe.
Punk Sanitiser by BrewDog
Psychopomp is an artisan gin distillery based in Bristol, England, who have also begun to produce hand sanitiser gel to distribute among the community free-of-charge, but in exchange for a charitable donation to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
Warner’s Distillery in Northamptonshire usually prides themselves on saving the world from mediocre gin, but in light of the sanitiser shortages they have turned their production efforts to saving the world a little more generally.
Edinburgh based Leith Spirits have received much deserved praise in the press for their efforts. Having begun production of hand gel rather as opposed to their usual selection of gin, the company issued a plea on social media for plastic bottles to package the hand gel in order to keep production moving.
Jameson Distillery, Sean O’Neill, Flickr Creative Commons
Pernot Ricard, producers of drinks brands including Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey have put their Arkansas factory to good use by producing hand sanitiser instead of booze as the company reports a 20% hit to their operating profit due to the coronavirus. The French company hope to utilise some of their other USA factories to further increase their supply to help combat the empty shelves and dwindling hospital stores of hand sanitiser.
Diageo, the makers of Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker Whiskies have pledged to produce enough denatured alcohol to make 8 million bottles of sanitiser, to be distributed among the front line staff treating coronavirus patients in the UK, Ireland, Italy, USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.
Luxury fashion, cosmetics, fragrance and drinks conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) have turned their fragrance laboratories into hand-gel powerhouses, providing free-of-charge supplies of the sanitisers to overstretched hospitals. It has also been reported that the company has ordered 40 million face masks to distribute among the French health services, with the first 10 million masks paid for out of LVMH coffers, amounting to 5.4 million Euros. Bravo!
Our neighbours, West London based organic skincare brand Pai have launched their new ‘Acton Spirit’ Hand Sanitizer, named as such as the team believed that it summed up the amazing resilience and community spirit we have all seen here in West London. Pai sent out the initial batch to key-workers and is working on a second batch to make available for the public to purchase. For every tube purchased, Pai have pledged to provide key-workers and health professionals with one, too.
Pai’s “Acton Spirit” hand sanitiser in makeshift packaging
BeYou is a bit of an anomaly among this list, for its products mostly seek to provide women relief from period pain. BeYou impressively shifted their production to help beat the shortage of hand sanitisers within a week, and have been giving them away free with orders.
London-based luxury fragrance company Ormonde Jayne initially began manufacturing small amounts of hand gel to ensure the safety and hygiene of all of its staff members, and now they have begun distributing it among customers who purchase any of their delightful fragrances in-store or online.