Been too busy trying to stay cool this week to keep up with the news? We’ve got you covered with our round-up of the week’s talking points. The British heatwave sent us all a bit mad, Rebecca Long-Bailey retweeted herself out of a job, and we got in the virtual festival spirit as #GlastoAtHome kicked off. By Sarah Bradbury.
Too hot to think
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sweating my way through this week, wishing I was anywhere other than stuck in my flat in the middle of a concrete jungle during the peak of our bafflingly unBritish summer. It seems I wasn’t the only one – but while I made do with homemade lemonade and cold showers, others took action and flocked to any bit of seaside they could find to make the most of it.
The ensuing viral images of heaving coastlines did bring a shudder; all those months we’ve remained carefully apart seemingly blasted out the water (‘scuse the pun). Beachgoers were quickly demonised by keyboard warriors and national papers alike. Matt Hancock threatened to close beaches altogether if people were unable to abide by social distancing rules.
Amid the Health Secretary’s schoolmaster-eque berating, I couldn’t help thinking the situation was very much of the government’s own making. Lockdown rules have been steadily easing as temperatures have been rising. You can mock and callout out a lack of common sense among the British populace all you like, but I would argue it’s not stupid to head to where there’s sea, breeze and sand when it’s sweltering out.
Technically, people haven’t broken any rules. Boris had made it clear we are now allowed to spend more time outside with friends and fam and travel away from our local area to do so if we wish. In fact, I’d even say it’s been encouraged that we get out and about to spend and jumpstart our stalled economy. And let’s not even get started on the “Cummings” effect…
Yes, it does pose a risk to have so many people in a small space, and, yes, those leaving gross amounts of debris in their wake are jackasses (the discovery one Bournemouth beach-goer had defecated in a burger box they then left behind was a lowpoint…). But to suggest the threat of a second wave could be blamed entirely on a lack of common sense to me is to ignore the government’s total mismanagement of the lockdown easing process.
The lockdown divide
Boris further confirmed this week that pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, cinemas, museums (does that leave anything that is still closed…?) can all reopen from 4th July. While the prospect of life returning to something resembling normalcy, the news hasn’t universally been welcomed.
When we asked how you were feeling about coronavirus in the UK right now, you were split down the middle, with 46% saying you feel calmer than before and 54% saying you are still worried. Is it all too much too soon? We do desperately need our economy to restart – but at what cost?
Hospitality and cultural venues have been some of the hardest hit. Yet some restaurant owners are speaking out against the new rules. As much as they’d love to reopen they won’t be, as they don’t believe they can keep their customers safe while also being running at a financially viable capacity.
There’s been much discussion over cinemas, which say they won’t require masks to be worn (cynically being suggested to be more to do with customers still buying overpriced popcorn than a health-related decision). However far away the seats, surely two to three hours spent in an enclosed space with strangers is a coronavirus-spreading haven? Some smaller venues may remain shut.
On a social level, there also seems to be a divide forming. Those who’ve all but thrown caution to the wind are carrying on as though coronavirus has been cured, meeting up with close pals for piss-ups in the park, gathering in houses, taking trips places etc. So for those who can’t yet take advantage of the eased rules for their own or their loved one’s health, this weird limbo phase of lockdown lifting has brought its own set of challenges.
Gone are the weekly quizzes and daily Zoom calls. While FOMO had been kept at bay by our collective hibernation, it’s now back with a vengeance as social media is flooded with images of others embracing a newfound freedom many don’t feel is theirs to take while the virus is still very much present among us.
Being pregnant, I’m approaching this new state of loosened lockdown with caution. If, like me, you find this new version of lockdown is more anxiety-inducing than exciting – at this point, try to ignore the noise around you and focus on doing what makes sense for you and your family. Let’s all try and respect the situation for what it still is. The last thing we want is lockdown phase II this autumn…(please God no).
Think before you retweet
Rebecca Long-Bailey did not have the best week. After retweeting an Indy interview with Maxine Peake for forthcoming movie Fanny Lye Deliver’d with the caption “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond,” all hell broke loose. It emerged Peake had been quoted as making a link between US police brutality, and specifically the death of George Floyd, and training given to US officers by the Israeli secret service.
Long-Bailey later clarified she was not supporting all aspects of the article. But the damage was done and Keir Starmer gave her the boot. He was unequivocal in his position, pointing to the comments as spreading an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” and reiterating his commitment to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.
Whether or not you agree with the turn of events, it’s certainly a strong statement from the new Labour leader that he wishes to be crystal clear on his stance on accusations of anti-Semitism, an issue that blighted the party throughout Corbyn’s tenure as leader.
Dominanting culture news this week was of course the 50th Anniversary of Glasto, which all of no one will be able to attend “IRL.” But the festival organisers, the BBC, and of indeed fans, have been doing their utmost to make up for it with a whole host of events to relive the magic of past years and channel that unique Glastonbury vibe from home. Head to our special guide now if you haven’t already for some inspo and practical info:
BLM’s cultural reckoning
We’ve been keeping tabs on the ever-evolving impact of the BLM movement on the cultural industries. Over 5,000 creatives signed an open letter calling for an overhaul of structural racism and bias in the UK Film and TV sector and to empower more BAME producers. This week we saw the BBC respond by committing £100m of its TV budget in the next three years to increasing diversity. Is this a sign of more change to come? Let’s hope so. Read our full piece here.
What else happened?
Here in the UK
- We spoke to a nurse about fears of a second wave from the frontline.
- Daily government COVID-19 briefings are being scrapped.
- As we hit the four year anniversary of the EU referendum, we took stock of where we are on Brexit. The UK gov has refused to extend the transition period beyond 31st Dec. Check out our explainer.
- Tributes were paid to the three victims killed in the Reading stabbings.
- The row over Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s approval of a £1bn East London housing development provoked further scrutiny and accusations of “cash-for-favours” from Labour.
- Local councils in cities around England are on the verge of bankruptcy.
- A cross-party group of MPs wrote a letter to Rishi Sunak urging to consider a four-day week to help us recover from the pandemic. 95% of you also thought it was a great idea! Read our piece here. Bring on permanent long weekends!!
- Illegal raves have been cropping up in cities across the UK such as Manchester, and street parties were broken up in Notting Hill and Brixton in London.
- Windrush Day was celebrated around the country.
- An Ofcom report found our screen time was at a record high of four hours a day!
- A “White Lives Matter” banner flown over a Burnley FC match prompted a backlash.
- Liverpool won the premier league for the first time! Go you reds!
Around the globe
- The US saw a surge in coronavirus infections. Deaths in Latin America surpassed 100,000.
- Trump had a much lower turnout than expected for his first big election rally. Apparently a K-Pop fan prank was partly behind it.
- Facebook announced it would allow US users to turn off political ads on their Facebook and Insta accounts – we asked if it could have implications for the forthcoming US election.
- An open letter signed by 500 suggested the pandemic has led to a surge in authoritarian behaviour by governments around the world.
- Libya was back in the headlines after Egypt threatened the country with a “declaration of war.” Read our feature here.
- Australia had to reintroduce rational of essential groceries after a new virus spike prompted another wave of panic buying.
- An Ipos survey showed Swedes are losing faith in their Gov’s laissez-faire Covid approach.
- A French drugmaker reckons they might have a vaccine available by second half of 2021.
- The Eiffel tower has reopened! Though it’ll be a hike as you have to take the stairs…
- The Gov released a 5-step roadmap to opening up the arts sector including allowing rehearsals to begin ahead of outdoor performances
- We looked at how K-Pop fans are an unlikely political force.
- We also love the look of this techno fest https://live.awakenings.com/
- Secret Cinema are also doing Drive-in events! Check it out here.
- We caught wind of a “Herd Immunity Fest” happening in July in Wisconsin which we would advise avoiding like the plague, even if we had a chance of going….
- It was announced a white actor, Jenny Slate, who was going to voice a biracial character will be replaced in Big Mouth.
- Two sculptures honouring the Windrush generation will be unveiled in London in 2021!
- UK bookshops have seen sales soar. Reni Eddo Lodge’s anti-racism book is still topping the charts.
- Documentary On the Record, about allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, is available to watch now!
From around the web
Britney Spears’ heartfelt message to the LGBTQ+ “community” went viral.
You loved the Barcelona opera house’s reopening concert post-lockdown to over 2,000 potted plants we shared this week.
We thoroughly enjoyed this clip from 1971 of Nicky Wood heading out to pinch men’s bottoms in the name of sexual equality…
What was your top story of the week?