RESET Stories of Change
How COVID-19 Could Change Social Greetings Forever Inside the Canadian Care Home Crisis Grieving Alone, Together
When Pandemic Meets Resistance
Reset Magazine is a City, University of London publication created as part of the International Journalism postgraduate course 2019-2020.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Front Cover Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash Back Cover Gaia Lamperti/Reset
Editor in Chief Saumya Kalia
Managing Editor Talia Samuelson
News Editor Anne-Marie Provost Features Editor Alice Crossley Features Editor Francesca Adkins Chief Sub-Editor Zoë Bell Sub-Editors Dominique Berg Elizabeth de Jonge Production Editor Aurore Heugas Art Director Gaia Lamperti Deputy Art Director Noelann Bourgade Social Media Editor Rory Jones Reporters Christina Smith Cristina Carrasco Inna Gensh Koko Abed Mark Montegriffo Matthew Luddington Ntsiki Dinga Ramsha Khan Urszula Jaroszek Yi Pan
Dear readers, We spent the early days of the pandemic mourning the loss of our routines – calling this time ‘unprecedented’ and ‘surreal’. Things seemed far from normal. In deciding on the theme for this magazine, my colleagues and I knew this was the story of our times, and we strived to capture what the pandemic meant for different people. We witnessed the best of humanity - in community aid, gestures of appreciation, acts of kindness. But along with the good came the bad - the fissures in society were laid bare. Among the worst hit were the poor and homeless, the disabled and elderly. Some who soon came to be classified as essential workers were those who were previously undervalued or ignored. The way governments responded revealed their ideologies and priorities, as many began an onslaught on human rights. It was, and still is, the perfect storm. It would be convenient, and wrong, to put the world’s misery solely on COVID-19. The inequalities of racism, tightening grip of authoritarian leaders, lack of adequate policies and care for those vulnerable to abuse – did not spring up in the course of three months; they were known problems before the outbreak. They make up the society as we know today. The pandemic, in its own way, exposed these fault lines, reminding us that our ‘normal’ spelled disaster and hardship for many. Like newsrooms all over the world, we were forced to adapt our journalism as we explored these stories. This magazine was put together across continents and time zones, over virtual meetings and with few resources. It was completely unlike the experience I had in mind when I arrived at Heathrow Airport last September, but it has been rewarding all the same. Within these pages you will find stories of citizens and societies adjusting to a socially distant, politically-shaken world. You will read about how abortion clinics stayed open despite bans, how people fought for survival in care homes, how resistance to oppressive political systems grew, how migrant workers in India lived unseen. Each story is, at its core, a story about change. As the summer of 2020 is carved into history, Reset Magazine hopes to document global communities’ struggle with a health crisis which soon became a social and political one. We hope this time capsule stays with you – raising questions of what ‘normal’ is and should be - even after the world moves on. With hope, Saumya Kalia
CONTENTS Current Headlines
Hospitality takes a Major Hit Under Lockdown
In Israel a Pandemic Becomes a Military Operation
Pandemic Hits Pacific Islands’ Economies
“Deregulation On Steroids:” Safeguards Relaxed for Children in Care
Return of The Premier League
Is COVID-19 Really Making People Quit Smoking?
Lockdown Tutoring: Widening the Gap?
Online Education Has Showcasing Young Talent: To Survive Widened China’s Hacking the Crisis the Pandemic, StartUps are Urban–rural Education Gap Getting Creative
Abuse is a Family Member
Vancouver Artists’ Lockdown Murals Send Message of Hope
The Age of Anxiety: A World After the Lockdown
Ibiza: Is the Party Over?
Embracing a New Normal: How COVID-19 Could Change Greetings Forever
When Pandemic Meets Resistance
CONTENTS “We’re Bred To Be Resilient”
Poland’s Abandoned Pets
Is COVID-19 Changing the Minds of Antivaxxers?
Filipino Nurses Wage brave fight Against COVID-19 In the UK
Pandemic Brings India’s Migrant Workers Into Sight
Conservative US States to Restrict Abortion Access
Community New Zealand’s WeChat Vigilante Groups
Not Just for Lockdown
Hospice Community: Lost Before the Reset
Medical Staff Struggle in Post-COVID China
Inside the Canadian Care Home Crisis
Struggling Under The Weight of Lockdown
On the Road: France, a Bicycle Country
Care Homes Should be Places to Live, Not Just Die
Homeless In A Hockey Rink
No Lockdown, No Problem: The Pandemic in Sweden
Grief in Isolation
Illustration by Noelann Bourgade/Reset Magazine
FOR GLOBAL PRIDE 2020, SOLIDARITY GOES ONLINE By FRANCESCA ADKINS
Image: Liam McGarry/Unsplash
ith many events cancelled around the world this Pride month, hundreds of local Pride celebrations will join forces for “Global Pride” 2020, a 24-hour online celebration of LGBTQ+ rights on 27 June. An estimated 1,500 Prides have been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. A Global Pride will allow an expected 300 million viewers to tune-in from home, including from countries where attending Pride has historically been difficult. This includes countries such as Poland and Saudi Arabia, where being queer is still punishable by law. Kristine Garina, Co-Chair of Global Pride 2020 and President of the European Pride Organisers Association, hopes that an online event will draw an even more diverse crowd. “That might be someone who’s not out, someone who lives in a hostile or
conservative country, or someone who lives a long way from their nearest Pride,” said Garina. We’re excited to see who’ll join us on June 27th for Global Pride!” The event will include performances from singers Olivia Newton John, Dixie Chicks and Pabllo Vittar. Addresses from leaders in Costa Rica – which legalised equal marriage in May – Norway and India will also be made. Brazilian Lucas Martinelli says the LBGTQ+ community still lacks support from their leaders. “Some people in Brazil still see being gay as a curse or sin. Since Bolsanaro became our president they feel free to spread their hate,” Martinelli said. After his tickets to Madrid to attend Pride this year were cancelled, Martinelli will be tuning in from home. “Even though we’re living in a pandemic it’s important to have these movements and spread our voices because it’s not easy being LBGTQ.”
Restaurants turn to crowdfunding to survive COVID-19 crisis By CHRISTINA SMITH
ith significant declines in restaurant sales around the world, owners of small and independent restaurants are turning to crowdfunding to stay in business and continue paying their employees amid the coronavirus outbreak. Eric Skovsgaard, who organized a GoFundMe campaign for the Sunset Villa Restaurant in Canada, is one of them. “The amount of funds required could not be met by any government subsidy,” Skovsgaard said. The restaurateur had raised CAD$135,000 (£79,300) by 7 June after launching his campaign on 18 May. “The response has been astounding really and come from far and wide. We are obviously pleased with the results but equally surprised,” he said. Skovsgaard hopes his GoFundMe campaign will reach a $150 000 (£88,200) target. By 3 June, the popular online fundraising platform GoFundMe had more than 58,000 campaigns containing the keyword ‘restaurant’ in the United States, Canada, Australia, and several European countries. Dina Rickman, Senior Regional Manager in Northern Europe for GoFundMe, said there was a five-fold increase in the number of campaigns in the UK mentioning ‘restaurants’ and that the amount donated
to these campaigns had increased by more than 30 times in April and March this year, compared to the same period last year. Although governments on both sides of the Atlantic have introduced schemes to help businesses, the support on offer isn’t always enough to help them weather the crisis. On 20 April, Statista reported that restaurant sales in the UK fell by 56.4 per cent for March. Similarly, on 15 May, the United States National Restaurant Association reported that monthly sales in April were down by 50 per cent compared to pre-COVID receipts. Turning to crowdfounding has provided more than just a financial lifeline. Skovs-
gaard says the exercise has also strengthened the connection between his restaurant – which serves Danish cuisine – and his customers. “Aside from the immediate financial support, this exposure has given a rebirth to awareness of how culturally unique and valuable this facility is to our Danish heritage,” he said. “Hopefully it made many realise that they need to continue support through their patronage going forward.”
Image: United Nations COVID-19 Response/Unsplash
Museums look to archive life in lockdown By SAUMYA KALIA
useums around the world are asking people to people to document and submit accounts of their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. “For most people life has changed considerably, and the possibility to explore and document that is very appealing,” said Tamsin Ace, Director of Creative Programmes and Collection at London’s Museum of the Home. The museum is putting together an archive of first-person accounts under their UK-wide project #StayHome. Each entry, available on their website, illustrates how home life evolved under lockdown. It has struck a chord with hundreds in isolation. “People like having something to do,” Ace explained. “It’s also a way to make some sense of what we are all going through.” Ace says the submissions reflect diverse experiences - there
are stories of loneliness and confinement alongside those of joy and connectivity. In one entry, a family is making protective equipment for frontline staff. The desire to archive quotidian life is global. London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is running a new blog, “Pandemic Objects”. It includes commentaries and photographs of commonplace items - such as toilet rolls and thermometers - that Submission for StayHome project. Image: Museum of the Home sonian’s Anacostia Community stories and not just facts and have taken new meaning. The “Corona Collection Pro- Museum is soliciting stories for figures.” ject” by Wien Museum shows their online “Moments of ResilSmithsonian curators are Vienna in lockdown through ience” collection. preparing to exhibit personal ac“These are stories of every- counts alongside everyday obpersonal stories. One submission to the project shows an day people and how they ex- jects – like grocery lists, testing individual maintaining a corona- perienced the pandemic,” said kits, clothing – once the health Melanie Adams, the museum’s crisis abates. MCNY and Musevirus dictionary. Using the hashtag #Covid- director. The collection captures um of London are carrying out StoriesNYC, Museum of the people coming together as a similar initiatives. City of New York (MCNY) is in- community during a crisis. “We want to collect their items “They should be document- to not only preserve history,” viting people to document life in ed so when we tell the story of Adams explained, “but to also streets and homes. In Washington D.C., Smith- the pandemic, we have human share it with future generations.”
New campaign targets coronavirus-related scams in Britain By CRISTINA CARRASCO
itizens Advice UK is launching a campaign to fight against coronavirus related scams as millions of pounds have been stolen in online fraud around the world. The campaign, called Scams Awareness Fortnight, will run from 15 to 28 June and focuses on raising awareness about the most common scams so that people can detect and prevent them. The most common frauds include fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus related material or emails and text messages pretending to be from the government. Others offer life insurance and ask for personal details, or involve scammers knocking on doors soliciting donations for charity.
During the pandemic, thousands of people around the world have fallen victim to such scams. Elena Romescu, for instance, replied to an email that promised a good investment and ended up losing almost €1,000 (£900). Europol relates the rise in what they call “coronacrimes” to a greater need for income, and more time spent online during the lockdown. In the UK alone, more than £5 million have already been lost by over 2,200 victims of coronavirus-related scams, according to an Action Fraud report. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported more than $45 million lost to scammers (around £35.5m).
Major security agencies around the world have launched prevention campaigns in response. Interpol has created the #WashYourCyberHands campaign. Spanish security bodies have launched the #Donotbait hashtag “We have issued warnings about the scams we are seeing and advice on how to avoid them,” said Juliana Gruenwald, FTC media spokesperson. The American National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – which has launched a “Cyber Aware Campaign” - recommends increasing security on accounts and computers, never clicking on an unverified link, checking all personal information requests and paying online through secure means, like PayPal.
Young face unemployment as pandemic delivers ‘triple shock’
By NTSIKI DINGA
lobally, one in six young people have stopped working since the outbreak of COVID-19 around the world, according to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Released on 27 May, it highlights the pandemic’s disproportionate global impact on young people who face a ‘triple shock’ of job losses, disruption to education and training, and obstacles to joining the labour market. “The crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group. If their talent and energy is sidelined by a lack of opportunity or skills, it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy,”said ILO director-general Guy Ryder. In the UK, recent data released by the Office for National Statistics shows a 65 per cent increase in unemployment benefits applications, a decline in weekly average hours worked, and a 35 per cent reduction in the number of vacancies compared with a year ago. A coalition of youth organisations, the Youth Employment Group, is lobbying the UK government for swift action to support young people’s employment opportunities during this crisis. The group said that today’s young people will suffer lifelong economic
and social consequences unless this issue is addressed. Previous recessions show that failure to support young people results in poorer health outcomes, higher levels of benefits utilization, and other social problems. Becci Newton, deputy director for Employment Policy Research at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), said young people have tough choices ahead of them and they would need to show greater flexibility in planning and making life choices. “It’s a recessionary environment and opportunities are limited. The labour market is going to be extremely competi-
tive,” she said. Newton recommends continuing education and training, refining employment skills, and further developing vocational
“Positive steps must be taken now to get young people into good quality work and to future-proof ourselves by building the workforce of the future.” focus to ride out the storm. The IES and the Learning and Work Institute estimate that 500,000 young people in Britain face long-term unemployment over the next 18 months.
Employees who have experienced job changes since the outbreak. Image: Resolution Foundation
Charities Come to Aid of Indian Students Stranded in Britain By ALICE CROSSLEY
rganisations are helping thousands of Indian students stuck in the UK after a nationwide lockdown led to university closures and India barred arrivals from overseas. One group, the non-profit Education Beyond Borders, estimates there are over 60,000 international students currently stranded in the UK. “The international students, they lost jobs, they’ve got no place to go, no family here, no friends,” said the founder and chairman of Social Education Voluntary Association (SEVA) Charan Sekhon.
Sekhon said his group offered support to international students in Hertfordshire three days after lockdown began on 23 March. SEVA has provided food packages to over 3,000 students at universities in the area which have a high number of Indian nationals. India closed its international borders to foreign arrivals, including Indian nationals, on 18 March. This was announced just two days before the entry ban, leaving many students with no option but to stay in their university towns The country has emerged as the fastest-growing market
for British universities. Over 30,000 Indian students received a Tier 4 study visa in 2019, a 63 per cent increase from the previous year. With fees for international students reaching up to £38,000 per year, many have to work part-time. The Indian National Student’s Association (INSA), the biggest Indian student network in the UK, has received over 5,700 calls and emails during lockdown. It has delivered more than 4,000 food parcels and organised accommodation for over 330 students. Despite provisions in place
to support international students in the UK, universities often fail to reach them. “A lot of times people are not even aware of what the universities offer,” explained INSA mentor Prerit Souda. “Being an international student there’s always this barrier; I am in an outside country, who do I talk to? There’s always a cultural inhibition.” The Indian government announced repatriation flights in May for citizens stranded abroad. A Mumbai to London flight operated recently on 6 June, with more scheduled in the coming month.
Lockdown measures drive popularity
By INNA GENSH
ussian streaming platforms have been broadcasting TV dramas shot and produced in a self-distanced format to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. In Britain, the BBC followed suit by launching a new series, Staged, on 10 June. Starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen, the series centres on the cast members of a West End play who try to continue rehearsals remotely after the pandemic puts their production on hold. “The Staged production team are following the latest
government guidelines on COVID-19 to ensure that the series is made safely and responsibly, using a combination of self-shooting and video conferencing technology, all in accordance with the latest protocols,” said the BBC. Russian productions have been employing these methods since the pandemic began. “Not everyone from the cast are able to join Zoom calls at the same time. Sometimes, another person would speak up the lines of the text to me when the other actor was absent,” says Daniil Vakhrushev,
an actor in the Russian screen life series All together. In these productions, characters almost never leave their keyboards, and traditional sets are replaced by actors’ homes. The actors also double up as crew members, as they have to frame and record each take themselves. “The shooting day was held like a normal shooting day would be outside quarantine. Except I was the only one to do everything: set the lights, the camera, the sound, do the makeup…” said Vakhrushev. “It was an interesting experi-
ence in general,” according to Vakhrushev. “When questions arose about the technical components and the intricacies of the process, the whole group improvised because the experience is new. We are almost like pioneers.” In fact, the format itself is not new. The first filmmaker to take the screen life style seriously and bring it to the big screen was Russian producer Timur Bekmambetov. Beginning in 2015, he tried to promote the format in the industry and has already shot several screen life projects.
Montreal trials safe transportation routes as COVID-19 prompts rethink of city planning By ANNE-MARIE PROVOST
ontreal’s plan to add 200 kilometres of bike paths, pedestrian lanes and to redevelop streets over the summer should inspire more permanent changes, according to experts. The Canadian city will remove parking spots to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists and businesses. Traffic levels have dropped since the COVID-19 crisis began and some thoroughfares will also be closed to motor traffic. The temporary network, called the “safe active transportation circuit”, streamlines traffic and will stay operational until September. It connects five parks and joins with commercial streets. In a press release, Montreal’s administration explains its decision is necessary to “ensure compliance with distancing measures” when people are outside.
“It’s an opportunity. I hope we can take advantage of it,” said Ahmed El-Geneidy, professor at McGill University School of Urban Planning. The expert in transport planning thinks going “back to normal” should not be an option in a world impacted by pollution and climate change.
“We have to live with the virus until there is a vaccine and we can use that time to change people’s habits.” “We need to get people moving on bicycles and walking,” said El-Geneidy. “Habits are built and, by the end of the summer, people will ask that a bike lane or a
walking space stay permanent.” Experts from McGill and Polytechnique Montréal will study the impact of these new, temporary measures. “We are doing a survey on social interactions and moving habits during the crisis. We are looking [to see] if the safe active transportation circuit is having an impact on the physical and mental health, especially for those who don’t have a yard,” said Geneviève Boisjoly, a professor of transportation engineering at Polytechnique Montréal. She noted that more people had taken to cycling before the crisis, creating congestion on bike paths. The study will explore both the impact of the temporary measures and how people might react to make some of the changes permanent, she explained.
U.S. government makes multi-million-dollar potato purchase in bid to save pandemic-hit industry By DOMINIQUE BERG
ernment move to buy excess dairy, meat and produce from farmers and redistribute them to America’s severely undersupplied food banks, beginning in July. Farmers have had to let over a thousand tonnes of fresh food rot because they do not have the capability to redirect their supply chains from food services to groceries and consumer markets. Senior food and agriculture reporter for Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich, said: “We have billions
of pounds of potatoes sitting in storage. This programme’s just not going to make much of Image: John Lambeth/Pexels
he United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun to purchase $50m (£40m) of surplus potato products from American farmers because of the COVID-19 crisis, but this will not be sufficient to prevent substantial losses. “That’s the largest federal potato buy in history,” Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council told U.S. News & World Report. “But it’s still just a down payment on what is usually a $4.1bn industry.” With restaurants, schools, hotels, convention centres, arenas, and other food service businesses forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, potato farmers face severe financial losses. The purchase is part of a larger $470m (£370m) gov-
a dent in that. The scale of it is just massive.” In a 21 May letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, the potato industry said more substantial purchases paired with a significant direct payment programme is needed in order to give farmers the “opportunity to maintain their livelihoods”. Meanwhile, food banks are dealing with a 70 per cent increase in demand, according to Feeding America, as tens of millions find themselves recently unemployed. One potato farmer made headlines recently when he offered his surplus to the general public. About 60,000 people showed up, some driving as much as eight hours, illustrating the disconnect between supply and demand.
Migrant workers criticise Italy’s Amnesty, say economic interest dominates
By GAIA LAMPERTI
tarting from 1 June and until 15 July, Italy’s undocumented migrants can apply for a six-month work permit a measure met with mixed reactions. The amnesty is part of the Italian government’s €55bn (£49bn) stimulus package for the pandemic and could benefit eligible workers in the agricultural and home care sectors. The Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova announced in tears in a speech
Parliament, Rome. Image: Renata Rodrigues/Unsplash
that “the invisibles will be less invisible.” Some have welcomed the provision – which could see up to 480,000 posts regularised - as a small victory against exploitation. “Many people lost their lives due to labour exploitation, it’s a very very serious matter,” said Jean-René Bilongo, a spokesperson for the farmworkers’ trade union CGIL-FLAI. “This measure is the result of our mobilisation, which continued even during coronavirus’ difficult conditions,” he said. However, others have criticised the move as it is limited to specific categories of workers and does not automatically guarantee a regular employment contract. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement argued that it might also
benefit exploitative employers who previously engaged in illegal labour practices. Agricultural labourers called for a general strike on 21 May to protest the prioritisation of economic production over migrant workers’ dignity and visibility. “It’s foolish to think that, in this historical moment, the government didn’t take a utilitarian decision,” said 24-year-old Diletta Bellotti, an Italian labour rights activist who organised a sit-in on the day of the strike.
“If labourers go on strike, our supermarkets are empty and we go hungry, just like them.” Italy faces a potential food shortage, as over 200,000 seasonal workers are unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Bellotti said the amnesty was granted to put workers back into the fields and prop up the agricultural sector. Instead of the current, limited amnesty, Bellotti has called for the imposition of a minimum wage, changes to distribution systems, and for consumers to make ethical choices. “The global health emergency made Italians realise that food doesn’t simply fall from the sky,” she added.
Hospitality Takes a Major Hit Under Lockdown The government is trying to keep business afloat, but the future of the hospitality industry remains uncertain
Restaurant chef working. Image: Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash
By NTSIKI DINGA
amascu Bite is an established Middle Eastern restaurant in the heart of London’s East End. For nearly 20 years, Damascu has offered authentic Syrian dishes and a leisurely dining experience. The popular spot has now been closed for eight weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant is currently under refurbishment and plans to reopen by midJune and when it does, it will also sell pizza, and operate purely on a take-away basis. Sammy Malik, Damascu’s manager, says the restaurant business is in for a rough ride for the remainder of the year and must adapt in order to survive. “We’ve lost money through this lockdown, we’ve lost customers, and we’ve put staff on furlough,” says Malik. “When we reopen we will only need half the guys.” The hospitality sector has taken a particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recession is imminent in the UK, according to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. The global economy is expected to shrink by 3 per cent — suggesting this economic slump could be even worse than the 2008 financial crisis. For hospitality workers, the impact was immediate: in the UK, 75 per cent of hospitality companies closed entirely when the lockdown period began. The third largest employer in the UK, the hospitality industry saw 84 per cent of its workforce (2.5 million people) furloughed. According to Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, the sector was
one of the first hit by lockdown — and is likely to be among the last to emerge from it. “Even when lockdown lifts, social distancing measures are going to make it very difficult for many venues to operate,” says Nicholls. “Those that are able to open will be operating at a fraction of normal capacity, so some businesses will find it economically unviable.” At the start of the crisis, Sunak had discussed a quick recovery for the economy, even naming one of his key economic
“We’ve lost money, we’ve lost customers, and we’ve put staff on furlough” packages for supporting small businesses the “Bounce-back Loans Scheme”. Though the Bank of England expects the economy to contract by 14 per cent in 2020 — the highest rate in more than 300 years — it does expect a recovery in 2021 and beyond. Both Sunak and the Bank of England have taken unprecedented actions to step in and support economic activity. Over £220bn is being borrowed in global markets to support various schemes such as the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, which helps employers pay up to 80 per
cent of employees’ wages while their place of work is closed, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, which provides small and medium-sized businesses with financial support to keep them afloat during the crisis. Nicholls says the extension of the furlough scheme has helped the hospitality industry overcome the initial crisis. Still, she worries some employers will struggle even after lockdown lifts and insists the furlough scheme needs increased flexibility in order to allow staff to return to work in a safer, gradual way. “We can’t be expected to go from a standstill to full pace overnight,” she says. At Enso, a Thai and Japanese restaurant in east London, all waiters and bartenders have been furloughed; however, manager Artur Wilke says that six of Enso’s servers will not return once lockdown eases. This is because Enso has decided to focus on delivery, rather than in-house dining due to the uncertainty surrounding social distancing measures. “We don’t see how it can work,” he says. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested the hospitality industry could reopen by 3 July. But even when restaurants, pubs, and hotels do open, operations will be different: venues will have to lower the maximum number of customers served, and make sure that all employees and customers maintain a two-metre distance. Restaurants like Damascu and Enso are taking measures to adapt to these unprecedented times. But the hospitality sector is a long way from business as usual.
In Israel A Pandemic Becomes
A Military Operation Israel is the only democractic country to use its intelligence agency to track people’s movements for pandemic control
By TALIA SAMUELSON
The coronavirus is a matter, for me, just as bad as a rocket coming down on my house,” says David (who does not want to disclose his full name), a former director of the Mossad, the fabled Israeli security agency as famous for its efficacy as for its methods. And, to date, Israel has treated the coronavirus pandemic like one of its military operations, enlisting intelligence agencies and generals alongside doctors to combat the virus. Since March, Israeli’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, has tracked the movements of those in quarantine due to the virus or
their travel history by tracing both their cell phones’ GPS and credit card activity. Shin Bet accesses this information to determine where a person has been and who they’ve had physical contact with. The controversy surrounding the operation has called into question how much freedom people are willing to sacrifice for safety, and the ethics of surveillance in a country that does not often publicise the activities of its intelligence services. Shin Bet—whose usual job is to track terrorist activity—initially conducted this surveillance under a quiet emergency
order from the executive branch. This all came to an end when Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled on 26 April that such tracking required legislation from the Knesset, Israel’s congressional body, in order to continue. The court petition, brought by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, provides a rare insight into the operations of a usually opaque organisation. It reveals that Shin Bet has been tracking the metadata of Israeli citizens for years. “This crisis allowed us to peek into the Shin Bet
“Powerful—and maybe ominous—surveillance capabilities” and realise there are very powerful—and maybe ominous—surveillance capabilities, but there’s no further debate beyond the... context of COVID-19. Nobody’s asking if we need that thing at all. Is there any reason for the Shin Bet to keep records of internal Israeli communications for 18 years? Nobody knows,” says Amir Cahane, a fellow at Hebrew University’s Cyber Security Research Center. The publicity of the court case has shone a spotlight on the methods of Israeli intelligence in general. Used to surveilling foreign threats, this is the first time in recent memory that Shin Bet has so publicly turned its capabilities on its own Jewish citizens. “It’s a country of lawyers and doctors and those doctors and lawyers are usually liberal people, and they don’t like it that their lives [are] being invaded,” says David. On 20 May, the office of the Prime Minister published a memo outlining the proposed legislation, which would continue to allow retroactive access to the data of confirmed patients two weeks before their diagnosis. The purpose of the data collection is to ascertain who they had been in contact with during the disease’s incubation period. If approved by the Knesset, the legislation would be valid for three months, with the possibility of being extended for another three months if deemed necessary. The proposal has been met with criticism
from many in the medical community. Dr. Nadav Davidovitch, a member of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, sees little need for such measures at this point in Israel’s fight with coronavirus. “From a professional perspective and an ethical perspective, involving the security services is not justified...We were against it from the beginning but now even more so because we are now in a phase of almost no new cases and they still continue to ask
for [Shin Bet surveillance] in the name of the second wave, and there was no clear discussion of bringing in different experts in epidemiology and public health, or bringing in experts in bioethics, “says Davidovitch. Israel is the only democracy in the world to enlist a security agency to help with the tracking of COVID-19. The nation has
made headlines from the very beginning of the pandemic for using the Mossad to obtain extra medical equipment at any cost, including procuring items that had already been earmarked for other countries. “The oversight mechanisms are very lacking. We are relying basically on the internal controls of the Shin Bet,” says Cahane. But according to David, Shin Bet is extensively regulated by the government. He also suggests that the internal controls Cahane mentions should be implicitly trusted. “People in the Shin Bet are also citizens, who also respect human rights.... They have other very strong capabilities... which could be very infringing on human rights and I know that my colleagues from the Shin Bet would refuse to use them on Israeli citizens unless they were convinced that it was a clear and present danger, including on Arab-Israeli citizens.” The precedent set by Shin Bet and the Israeli government is of continued concern, even as Israel became one of the first countries to reopen its bars and restaurants at the end of May. On 21 May, the editorial board of its most widely regarded paper, Ha’aretz, penned a letter condemning the legislation.
“There’s the risk that this is a slippery slope” Cahane warns, “There’s the risk that this is a slippery slope, once the public has shown that in certain circumstances it is willing to accept highly intrusive government surveillance, it will be tempting to apply it again in other circumstances.”
Israel’s High Court of Justice, where the case was decided. Image: Wikipedia Commons
Pandemic Hits Pacific Islands’ Economies Countries like Tonga and Samoa were largely spared of coronavirus but are suffering from the lack of tourism and remittances from overseas workers
By ELIZABETH DE JONGE orking overseas can be hard. It can be even harder when you’re working to send money home to help
your family. Jenny Tupou knows this all too well. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, things have only got tougher for her. These days, she spends most nights worrying about how to support her family back home in Tonga. Tupou has been living in New Zealand for over three years and earns her living by selling the traditional Tongan crafts at various markets dotted around Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand. But markets were shut-down for more than two months; and although Tupou is supported by the wage subsidy scheme, a measure New Zealand’s government has put in place to help ease the economic havoc caused by COVID-19, the amount she receives is much less than when she was working for herself. “It’s put a big strain on me. I can’t send back as much money as I used to and that really worries me,” says Tupou. “It’s also stressful
as most of the people who purchased my bone-carvings were tourists, and now that there aren’t any tourists, I don’t know what’s going to happen to my business.” Though New Zealand’s government
2020 faces a 13% drop in remittance flow to Pacific regions according to the World Bank. Image: Unsplash.
recently lifted all COVID-related restrictions, the border remains closed. Pacific nations such as Tonga and Samoa have made international headlines recently for their COVID-19 free status. But even though there may not be any cases of the virus, its far-reaching economic impact is still being felt in these small island nations. COVID-19 has left Pacific nations with little to no income from tourism, and a new report from the World Bank shows these countries will face a sharp drop in important remittance payments, the money sent home to families in the Pacific from workers in Australia and New Zealand. “My parents are getting old and they really relied on the money I used to send back,” Tupou explains. “Now that my husband and I are essentially out of work we might even have to consider moving back to Tonga. I’m feeling very anxious.” The recently released World Bank report predicts a 13 per cent decrease in remittance flow to the Pacific and East Asian regions. Data released shows that lower-income countries receive remittance funds at the
Over half of Tonga’s adult population work outside their home country Image: Pixabay.
same level as they receive foreign direct investments. Tupou says she chose to move to New Zealand with her husband partially for the chance of living a better life, but more importantly, the chance to take care of her parents financially. “I feel like when people think of Tonga, they think of coconuts and beautiful beaches and just a holiday dream destination. This is partly true, but life can also be very hard. I know lots of people from Tonga who made the move to New Zealand, and for me, being able to financially support my parents was really appealing,” says Tupou. According to World Bank Group President David Malpass, it is crucial that wealthier economies recover quickly in the face of COVID-19, so developing nations suffer less. “Remittances are a vital source of income for developing countries. The ongoing economic recession caused by COVID-19 is taking a severe toll on the ability to send money home and makes it all the more vital that we shorten the time to recovery
for advanced economies,” Malpass said in a statement. According to the remittance report, Tonga is the leading country predicting a drop in remittance rates, as the country’s GDP was made up by 40 per cent in remittance funds in 2019. Samoa is also another affected Pacific nation, as remittances accounted for 16.2 per cent of GDP in 2019.
COVID-19 has left Pacific nations with little to no income from tourism Over half of Tonga’s adult population work outside their home country and stories like Tupou’s are becoming more and more common. In New Zealand, which has a population of five million people, over 10,000 workers from Pacific nations remained in the
country when it went into a strict COVID-19 lockdown that ended in mid-May. The workers were in New Zealand as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, which allows New Zealand companies in the horticulture and viticulture industries to employ overseas workers when there is a domestic shortage. This also means the 10,000 workers were eligible for the government’s wage subsidy scheme. But now concerns are being raised as lockdown ends that the financial aid measures in place are not enough to support migrant workers in New Zealand. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made national headlines for telling struggling migrant workers “you should probably go home.” For her part, Tupou would prefer to stay. She says she hopes New Zealand’s successful and intense response to COVID-19 means things will look up soon. “New Zealand feels like my home now. I still have faith. I hope everything works out soon. I don’t know what to do if they don’t. ”
“Deregulation On Steroids”
Safeguards Relaxed for Children in Care
Child at a playground. Image: Marcus Spiske via Unsplash
Emergency legislation has changed the way children’s care is operating, but professionals question Government motives
By FRANCESCA ADKINS
Almost all serious changes in child care follow a tragedy, because a tragedy focuses the minds of politicians vividly,” says Ian Dickson, a retired social worker. He recounts the story of Dennis O’Neill, a child placed into foster care during World War Two. Sent to an isolated cottage in Shropshire, England, the 12-year-old suffered severe abuse at the hands of his foster parents. He was found by authorities too late, having died from multiple
beatings to the chest. The scandal led to an overhaul of the care system, signposting the need for stringent monitoring of vulnerable children. It gave rise to the Children Act of 1948; the bedrock of safeguarding. Dickson himself had a tough experience growing up in care, though he eventually became a social worker. Over the decades, he has seen a series of policies implemented to protect children; some of which might have helped when he was younger. But
now, Dickson is one of numerous care professionals worried that hard-fought legislation will be peeled back amid the coronavirus pandemic. His concerns arose on 24 April, when the government passed a raft of emergency changes allowing for greater flexibility during the pandemic. Overnight, a single motion came into effect, relaxing over 60 legal protections for children in care. Typically, legislation has a 21 day review period before coming into force, however
these changes were effective overnight. Claiming to protect staff and families, many relaxed safeguards were postponed to an “as soon as is reasonably practical” basis. For instance, a home visit to a child in care, previously required every six weeks, can now be conducted via phone or video without a fixed timescale. Six-month reviews and scrutiny of foster panels and adoption services have also taken a backseat. The extent to which the measures known as SI445 - are being followed varies. Kate Correll*, a trainee social worker, says her council is largely ignoring the guidelines. “The messaging from the top has been unclear, so we’re still working in the way we think is best for our families and our children.” However, Correll admits she works for a wealthier authority, where the technology and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for visits isn’t in short supply. “Other councils which are overstretched may rely more on the relaxation of
children are slipping under the radar. Advocacy group, Article 39, has been vocal when it comes to their concerns. Branding the new measures as “deregulation on steroids” they are the first to take legal action against the government’s handling of care
“Coronavirus is being used as a smoke screen”
“Domestic abuse, substance use and online grooming are escalating behind closed doors” policies. Obviously, that’s really concerning, it’s a dangerous time for a lot of young people,” she says. In England, lockdown is Key changes to SI445. Image: Francesca Adkins adapted from Article 39 heightening the risk of up to 2 million vulnerable children, the children’s during the coronavirus pandemic. Their commissioner told the BBC in April. campaign, “Scrap SI445” has gained traction Instances of domestic abuse, substance use amongst big names in the sector, including and online grooming are escalating behind human rights lawyers, charities and care closed doors, while less visibility means professionals. In May, Labour leader Keir harm is trickier to detect. Before, schools Starmer weighed in on the debate, calling to were a major source of referrals, yet now revise the polices. Anna Gupta, a professor in social work at they only operate at a fraction of former capacity. Fears are mounting that many Royal Holloway, University of London, says
this is not the first time care work has been caught up in a web of politics. Pointing to previous attempts to strip back safeguards - in 2016 and 2018 - she says the pandemic is being used as a “smoke screen” to push government agendas. “Well before COVID-19 there were severe problems in local councils due to lack of government funding. Now, it’s about privatisation, because these rights - what we would regard as essential safeguards increases the costs for private companies running residential care.” Gupta says this is why legislation was passed without proper process. “It was sneaked in without any meaningful consultation with the sector. It’s clear that the children’s commissioner was not consulted, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) was not informed in detail, or any groups representing care leavers or children in care.” The government denies this is the case, saying it has “worked at pace with the children’s social care sector and with Ofsted to develop a number of temporary amendments”. In a public letter to the Guardian the Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford said she hoped the newly introduced “flexibilities will not have to be used.” But such reassurances do little to allay the fears of retired social worker Ian Dickson. “Everybody’s predicting there will be a tsunami of referrals as soon as lockdown is lifted. There may be a swathe of kids coming into care and the system, overwhelming it at a time when the protective mechanisms aren’t there. Government will argue that’s exactly what they were preparing for. Campaigners worry that it will simply consolidate the changes.” After forty years of social work, Dickson was planning to “fade away” from public campaigning after 2019. As the repercussions of lockdown are felt, a quiet retirement is looking unlikely. *Kate Correll’s name has been changed
Burnley Footbal Club. Image: Nathan Rogers/Unsplash
The Premier League After a three-month pause due to COVID-19, English football resumes on 17 June — with, perhaps, a stronger sense of social responsibility By MATTHEW LUDDINGTON
onday 9th March 2020. This was the last time a ball was kicked in the Premier League. After almost three months without England’s beloved league, it appears we’re finally nearing a return. The league’s “Project Restart” has the first two fixtures scheduled for 17 June. This season will finish behind closed doors at teams’ home stadiums, with the exception of six “high risk” fixtures which are being moved to neutral grounds. These unique circumstances have given
supporters an opportunity to pause and ask questions about what is the best way forward for English football. Could COVID-19 change the way clubs approach their social responsibility? One man never far from the headlines is Aston Villa’s chief executive, Christian Purslow. The former Liverpool and Chelsea director was a vocal critic of the league’s original proposal to play all the remainder of the season’s fixtures at neutral venues. He expects football to be a big part of the national healing process after COVID-19.
“Clubs have a duty to honour and remember the victims of this pandemic — particularly those who were lifelong fans,” Purslow says. Aston Villa are one of many clubs to offer their facilities to the NHS during lockdown, with their Villa Park stadium hosting maternity care clinics. Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Brighton, Tottenham, Watford, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Sheffield United and Norwich have all welcomed the NHS to their facilities; whilst Liverpool, Bournemouth, Wolves and West Ham gave direct club
Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal FC. Image: Pedro Bariak/Unsplash
NHS. In April, Aston Villa’s players took a 25 per cent salary deferral for the next four months. Purslow explains that this decision was made to save money and protect all of Aston Villa’s employees. Norwich and Newcastle are the only two clubs in the league to place employees on the government’s furlough scheme. Purslow, though, believes the trend of players being paid more and more will continue. “Fundamentally, it’s market forces at play. Clubs’ revenues have skyrocketed with TV deals and need to attract the best players.” The Premier League employs 100,000 people in full time jobs across the country. It contributed a total of £3.3bn in tax in 2017 with exactly one third (£1.1bn) coming directly from players. While the Premier League may be a national asset, some believe the organisation is out of touch with ordinary people — a claim that is not unfounded. The league’s top earner, Kevin De Bruyne, pockets a handy £280,000 a week, whilst the dearest season ticket at the Emirates Stadium costs £1,770. Post-COVID, we could see greater scrutiny over a club’s ownership. There has already been backlash over a proposed takeover of Newcastle United from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, who recently bought an 80 per cent stake in the club. The fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote an open letter to Christian Purslow, Aston Villa’s chief executive. Source: Adobe Spark.
donations to the NHS. Football writer Tom Harle suggests clubs could foot the bill for emergency services at future games. “Currently clubs pay most of the cost of policing at the games, but not all. There’s going to be increased societal pressure on that to change.” “An improvement in hygiene standards and healthcare facilities at grounds could definitely be another step,” Harle says. Though games were paused during lockdown, players continued to make headlines. Villa’s star player Jack Grealish, for example, garnered attention when he crashed his Range Rover while returning from a party at 4am — only hours after urging fans on social media to stay at home. The age-old debate on whether footballers are paid too much has also resurfaced. The PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) has rejected an across the board pay cut for players during lockdown, although many players have donated individually to the
Newcastle fans urging them to resist the takeover. Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners acquired the club in 2008 and have since transformed the club’s success on the pitch and invested in the surrounding area. Still, Amnesty International has accused them of “sportswashing” their country’s “tarnished image and human rights abuses” by pouring money into the Premier League club. The Labour party introduced proposals for the 2019 election that would allow fans
“Clubs have a duty to honour and remember the victims of this pandemic” to vote on who becomes manager of the club, and to reserve two board director seats for accredited supporters’ trusts. Manchester City supporter Patrick Turner explains that “Mansour’s [the club’s owner] money has allowed us to compete, and the possibility of a wealthy owner coming in gives the smaller clubs hope, and stops the formation of an established order.” In a country like Germany with greater fan involvement and strict spending rules for clubs, Bayern Munich, by far the largest club in terms of following and revenue, have won the title seven years in a row. Although COVID-19 should provide clubs and players with a timely reminder of their social responsibilities, significant structural change does not appear to be imminent. But if 2020 has shown us anything it is that the future is unpredictable.
Image: Gaby Dabrowski is focusing on maintaining her fitness so she is ready once competition resumes.
“We’re bred to be resilient” How athletes are dealing with the 2020 Olympic Games being pushed back a year
It is very difficult because I cannot do my job properly,” says Christian Taylor, 29, an American track and field Olympic and world champion. “It has been over two and a half months now since I put on my spikes and been able to execute one day of proper training.” Taylor competes in the triple jump and long jump, and pandemic closures have made his track, sandpit, and gym off limits. While most Olympic athletes, including Taylor, advocated for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to be postponed due to COVID-19, they now must deal with the impact. Many athletes train up to five hours a day, six days a week, and adhere to stringent nutrition programmes leading up to the Games. Now, they have to adjust to their finish line being pushed back a year — and potentially cancelled entirely if no vaccine is developed, according to the President of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee. Dr Jack Lesyk, director of the Ohio Centre for Sport Psychology and former president of the Association for Applied
Sport Psychology, says motivation is going to be a challenge for many athletes. U.S. Olympic middle distance runner Ajeé Wilson says, “training is that much more enjoyable and you’re able to endure that much more pain if you have something tangible that you can aim towards.” In light of the situation, Wilson initially relaxed her training and gave herself “wiggle room” to adjust, depending on how she feels. Now, with announcements of a potential running season this autumn, Wilson’s training has intensified. Canadian tennis player and Olympian, Gaby Dabrowski, 28, said her motivation to practice on the court for hours has waned, but now she has the time to rehabilitate rather than push through with injuries as she does normally. “We’re bred to be resilient,” she adds. U.S Olympian Taylor says, “When it comes to motivation as an athlete, that light, that fire, does not dwindle because this is what we live for. We train every day in the hopes that we’re going to be ready at a championship…tomorrow may bring an
By DOMINIQUE BERG
Christian Taylor at the 2016 Doha IAAF Diamond League.
An athelete competes in the long jump. Image: Unsplash.
happening for a reason… I’m hoping that we all come out of this and that change
“I was feeling the depression. I was feeling the sadness.” happens, that we don’t go back to the way things were,” says Taylor, referring to both the public health issues and racial tensions in the news recently. Looking beyond the Olympics, he is hopeful the increased attention paid to the news and social media during the pandemic will ensure that important issues like racial inequality will remain in the spotlight rather than “burning and dying”.
With the season on hold, Dabrowski has been able to incorporate rehabilitation into her training.
injury; we can get to the competition and become ill. There is always that uncertainty with sports.” Dr Lesyk says high school and college athletes he’s worked with are currently reducing expectations, not training as hard, and focusing on “maintaining a level of fitness so they can return to the sport without having lost too much during the downtime.” He says this is a good time for athletes to focus on experiences in life that they have been missing out on because of the demands of their sport. Runner Wilson says this disruption in her training has made her think about what she wants her life to look like after she’s retired
and consider her life outside of track. She has been inspired to “take charge of [her] life.” “I’ve set up my life in a way that’s very easy and very convenient. My coach is in charge of my training. My agent manages my contracts and appearances. I have a financial adviser for the most part… I’m not as hands on in my life as I feel I should be, as crazy as that sounds.” For many athletes, physical isolation has been a difficult consequence of the pandemic. Wilson says, “some of the hardest moments have just come from being disconnected like this. Not being able to do simple things like go and hang out with a friend.” Wilson fears for the health and safety of people around her, like her 65-year-old coach who has Parkinson’s. But she has also managed to find silver linings. Wilson teared up when she revealed that she and her sisters have become closer. The workouts, birthday celebrations, and talks over FaceTime are the most they’ve connected since they lived together growing up. “That’s really one of the brightest points.” Taylor has not been able to see friends and family since mid-March; his fiancée is Austrian and has been stuck in Europe because of travel bans, and their plans to get married in October are now up in the air. “I’ve been very alone for the last few months,” Taylor says. He says initially, as the pandemic worsened, he stopped watching the news. “I put my head in the sand because I couldn’t take it engulfing me. But he realised “it’s an opportunity to learn and be better in the future.” “It can get so dark sometimes, I really just have to rely on my faith that it’s all
Source: Wallpaper Flare
Poland’s Abandoned Pets
Owners are abandoning their animals or having them put down due to unfounded coronavirus fears
By URSZULA JAROSZEK
oyal, devoted, and affectionate, request. Under Polish law, a veterinarian dogs are supposed to be man’s can only euthanize a pet in three cases: it best friend. But in Poland, fears can be performed as a humane way to end that dogs can contract the new an animal’s suffering if there is no hope of coronavirus (COVID-19) — and therefore recovery; or, in other rarer cases, when the spread the virus to their owners — has animal is so aggressive that it threatens the safety of others. An animal can also be caused many dogs to be abandoned. Poland’s National Chamber of Veterinary euthanised if it spreads diseases that are Medicine has issued a statement reminding dangerous to humans and/or other animals people that, according to the World — and, as the WHO points out, this is not Health Organisation (WHO) domestic the case with COVID-19. But this does not change much for Poles. dogs and cats pose no threat to humans in relation to COVID-19. The regulatory The sad truth is that even when vets say no body for Polish vets also emphasises that to euthanisation, many people decide to it is illegal to put down a dog without a medical reason. But with anxieties about the virus running high, this advice has been widely ignored. “Considering the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low,” says Marta Barzk, a veterinarian from Bydgoszcz, Poland. “And yet, the last month in our clinic was crazy, it almost did not feel real. People came to us with young, healthy dogs and insisted on putting them down because they were afraid of getting infected.” Barzyk emphasises that veterinarians will not euthanise an animal without a valid need, for both ethical and legal reasons. As Poland’s veterinary body points out, there is no such thing as euthanasia on Author: Ulrike Leone. Source: Pixabay
abandon their dogs at shelters. “It is hard to keep track of all the numbers, says Elzbieta Piotrowska, a volunteer at a Bydgoszcz dog shelter. The shelter does not record why dogs are given up; however, Piotrowska notes that in April, the shelter had 156 dogs in their care, 35 of which came to them that month, and, she says, at least 10 were abandoned due to fears about COVID-19. “We would mostly get calls from elderly people asking if we can take their dogs as they are too scared to take care of them. But we are now at full capacity, we cannot take in any more dogs, and also adoptions are on hold because of the virus. The situation is hard enough on its own and it is just painful to see those dogs suffer for no good reason,” Piotrowska says. Those numbers may not sound like a lot, but with 173 registered dog shelters in Poland the problem is real. So real, in fact, that even Donald Tusk, former Polish Prime Minister and President of the European Council intervened on his Instagram account, spreading awareness to his 186,000 followers. Despite this, Piotrowska worries that people will not listen. “There will always be a veterinarian who turns a blind eye, fails to notify the police, and will euthanize a healthy animal.” “The only thing that we can do is to educate,” she says.
Is COVID-19 Changing the Minds of Anti-vaxxers?
As scientists scramble to create a vaccine for the coronavirus, some anti-vaxxers remain skeptical By NOELANN BOURGADE
hile the coronavirus spreads in communities around the world, scientists and researchers are working tirelessly on a vaccine to put an end to the pandemic. But for a vaccine to be effective most people will need to receive it. While most of the world awaits a vaccine to protect them from the “invisible killer”, there are some who remain sceptical about vaccines. As of the beginning of June, over 400,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19 with over six million cases reported worldwide, according to Worldometers.
The lab of the International Vaccine Institute. Image: Aerie Em
Amid increasing numbers - the UK has the second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths - anti-vaccine groups joined a 16 May anti-lockdown protest in London’s Hyde Park.
It is “hard to deny the effectiveness of vaccines when you’re facing a pandemic.” One anti-vaccine group has launched a petition to make the coronavirus vaccines non-mandatory. In only six days the effort collected over 360,000 signatures. “I think there is not enough information and research done on them. Why would I trust someone to “recommend” something to inject into my two children? Why do I need these? What is in them?” asks Areasha Lockhart, an American emergency medical technician (EMT) who helps maintain “The Anti-Vaccine” Facebook group. “I am not afraid of any vaccines, but I wish they were better regulated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), [the American public health institute],” says Lockhart. “I received the chickenpox vaccine when I was little and I got chickenpox twice. Severely. I just don’t think vaccines are for everyone… they are not a one-size fits all.” she says. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has made some anti-vaxxers reconsider their position. Isaac Lindenberger, a 23 year-old
American who grew up with a mother opposed to vaccines, admitted to CNN that it is “hard to deny the effectiveness of vaccines when you’re facing a pandemic”. Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at the University of Georgia, says a vaccine can put an end to the massive spread of this virus, however, if enough fail to get vaccinated, we run the risk of a repeated outbreak. Amyn Malik, Postdoctoral Associate at Yale School of Medicine says that the majority of people, more than 55-60 per cent worldwide, should be vaccinated once it becomes possible. “Unfortunately, as this virus does not always show symptoms those who are not vaccinated and infected may be easily able to spread the disease and lead to morbidity and mortality,” Malik explains. Jerome Kim, director of the International Vaccine Institute, and his team think they will have a vaccine developed in six months. However, he adds that once developed, it is likely to take “12-18 months and perhaps longer if we don’t figure out how to make the vaccine in a large quantity and to distribute it to everyone who needs it.” There are currently more than 161 coronavirus vaccines under development worldwide. While most vaccine studies on the virus are in phase one of clinical trials, Kim’s has already entered phase two. However, for a vaccine to be effective and allow us to go back to our “normal lives”, enough people, 55-60 percent, need to be willing to contribute to herd immunity - the community protection that occurs when enough people have been immunised against a contagion to quell its spread.
Filipino nurses wage brave fight against COVID-19 in the UK Filipino health-care workers are on the front lines of the UK’s coronavirus crisis, which has disproportionately impacted people of BAME backgrounds By NTSIKI DINGA
ust ten weeks after moving to the UK from the Philippines, Leidy Fregillana, 31, began selfisolating in her London flat after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. She moved alone to the UK at the beginning of March, hoping to start a successful career as a nurse in the NHS. Circumstances quickly threw her into the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. When the country went into lockdown, her month-long training was cut short two weeks in, and her mandatory UK nursing practice exam was waived.
Without orientation, the pediatrics specialist was placed in an adult COVID-19 intensive care unit, a completely different area from her specialism. Part of the global fight against COVID-19 Fregillana is one of many health workers from the Philippines who have been impacted by the disease in the UK. Among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers in the NHS, Filipino health workers stand out because of their high number of reported COVID-19 deaths. They make up only 3.8 per cent of the NHS nursing workforce but an astonishing
Leidy Fregillana: Welcomed back at work with flowers after quarantining, Leidy stands ready to help her patients
22 per cent of those who have died from coronavirus, according to data from the Health Sciences Journal. This is the highest number of any nationality. The Philippines is a major exporter of well-trained and dedicated nurses, with an estimated 250,000 working outside of their home country. The vast majority practice in the US, where there are over 143,000 Filipino nurses. There are 19,000 here in the UK. Overseas salaries are a minimum of five times that of the highest available in the Philippines. Nurses leave in search of better economic opportunities and to support their families back home. The Philippines is the fourth largest destination of remittances, accounting for 10 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to the World Bank. Talking about her experiences working at the frontlines, soft-spoken Fregillana is careful to focus the discussion on her patients. British media have reported that doctors and nurses are being “gagged” from speaking out publicly about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages in the NHS. Like many from her country, Fregillana considers serving her patients her highest priority despite the occupational risks. She returned to work as soon as she recovered. “We are really passionate about our work…Sometimes we are really attached to the patients…for those who die, sometimes we blame ourselves that maybe we haven’t given them the best form of treatment,” she says. The pandemic has affected groups disproportionately More than 200 NHS healthcare workers have died since the UK’s coronavirus outbreak began, of which 63 per cent were in the BAME category. A government ordered Public Health England (PHE) report released earlier this month has confirmed that the risk of dying of COVID-19 is higher for those in
Role of health and social care staff who have died of COVID-19 classified by ethnicity and gender. Source: HSJ
BAME groups, both within the NHS and across the general population, with some BAME groups facing up to 50 per cent greater risk of death. However, the report was criticised for simply stating the findings without examining the reasons behind the higher mortality rate. The Health Service Journal reports that the government also removed an important section before publication, which included responses from many organisations and individuals suggesting that discrimination plays a role in the higher risk of death among BAME communities. Professor Kevin Fenton, who PHE had originally announced would lead the investigation previously stated on Twitter, that social factors including “overrepresentation of BAME in lower socio-economic groups, multi-generational households, co-morbidity exposure risks, and disproportionate employment in lower band key worker roles” could contribute to increased vulnerability. There was further controversy when it emerged that another scientist had led and written the report instead of Fenton. London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a full public inquiry into why the virus has disproportionately affected BAME groups
and how to solve this issue. But practical factors play a big role too George Bermudez has been working in the UK as a nurse for over
200 health-care workers died in the NHS, with 63% in the BAME category 10 years and has strong links within the UK Filipino nursing community. He says health workers were not properly protected at the height of the pandemic. “There were mixed messages about types of PPE that should be used, and the rate at which it should be used,” he says. On his online forum for UK-based Filipinos, nurses wrote anonymously expressing frustration about this issue and about abrupt redeployments from their normal wards to COVID-19 units without adequate training. He notes that the NHS has increased the level of risk-assessments of BAME health-workers.
However, Bermudez says there’s another contributing factor - Filipino nurses working abroad tend to be “more meek”. They do the undesirable jobs and tough shifts without question because livelihoods back home depend on the income they generate. All health-workers must be safe Michael Duque, a founding member of the Filipino Nurses in the UK association, says that although the community remains committed to their work, they are filled with fear everyday. “We are in a heightened state of cautiousness but we are now also working to get nurses to stand up and be assertive in looking after themselves. Filipino nurses must raise their concerns about PPE with management at senior levels,” he says. Duque says NHS trusts have shown a positive response to their requests for protection of Filipino health workers. “Our voices are being heard. Slowly but surely there is positive change.” The pandemic has shown the world the value of what nurses do, according to Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nurses. She says, “All healthcare workers need to be safe right now. Action must be taken to reduce risk and harm to BAME healthcare workers.”
Ready to get back in the ring – Leidy, suited up, and back at the front lines with her colleagues
PANDEMIC BRINGS INDIA’S Migrant Workers in Sight The long walk home by destitute migrants has become the defining image of India’s response to COVID-19. Their suffering, however, predates the pandemic By SAUMYA KALIA
t is a sweltering May afternoon when Pintu Kumar, 39, reaches a bustling Mumbai train station. Bags weigh down his shoulders and sweat trickles onto his face mask. The sound of clamouring voices and scenes of snaking queues await him. He tightly clutches a train ticket and weaves through the crowd towards the platform. “There must be some 2,000 people on this train, and everyone is ecstatic,” he says, his voice dry from exhaustion. The Shramik Express was taking them home. The passengers on this train - and the millions stranded across cities - would become the face of India’s biggest labour crisis since 1947, the year of its partition. COVID-19 has become a familiar struggle worldwide. In India, however, a humanitarian crisis has dwarfed the pandemic – damaging the livelihoods of its 140-million migrant workforce. “We haven’t seen this happen anywhere else in the world where measures taken to protect from the virus Savita, who walked over 14 hours with her 3-year-old daughter, in Mumbai. Image: Parth MN have been worse than the virus itself,” says Anindita Adhikari, a scholar working for the Stranded Workers Action Network slowly building up cities from the ground. people. Thousands started walking, with (SWAN). Pintu has worked as a construction labourer children and bags, to their home states. Migrant workers in India are a part of for the last 20 years, but the structures he Others cycled or hitchhiked dangerously. the informal sector - described as the “poor built bear little trace of him. “They [government] didn’t see them, working class” - employed in unorganised “It is an ‘invisibilised’ population which didn’t anticipate the response this group of economic activities by the International makes our cities grow and run,” says people would have,” Adhikari says. To her, Labour Organisation. In India, the informal Adhikari. the hasty lockdown symbolises authorities’ sector constitutes about 90 per cent of the Estimates of their numbers vary due to disconnect with migrants lives. national workforce. population density and mobility. Officially, For some, the long road home proved That amounts to 400 million workers their strength had never been acknowledged to be fatal. At the time, SWAN released a belonging to the economically-weaker until now - when they started to leave cities report documenting 189 lockdown-related sections of society, who are particularly in clusters. deaths — from suicide, deaths during the vulnerable to easy exploitation by business Prime Minister Narendra Modi journeys, hunger, and police brutality. The owners. announced a nationwide lockdown on 24 number had doubled by mid-May as India A subset of this sector are the migrant March - giving India’s 1.3 billion people a entered its fourth lockdown. workers, who travel the length and breadth four-hour notice to prepare. Overnight, “It is no longer a trade-off between lives of the nation in search of work and millions of workers were pushed out and livelihoods, but between lives and economic security, often living isolated of employment and into poverty. Many lives,” the report says lives in the shanties of big cities. They work could not afford rent or food and were left This mass exodus meant the State could as drivers, factory workers, farmers - all stranded, as non-essential travel ceased. no longer turn a blind eye. On the 35th without job security or social protection Yet, the roads continued to teem with day of lockdown, the government finally
Illustration: Anirban Ghosh
arranged special Shramik trains to take them home. Many paid 800-1000 Indian rupees (£810) for these journeys - even as they lived in debt traps and struggled to feed themselves. In contrast, the government ran evacuation flights for nationals stranded abroad footing a bill of over £600,000. By 27 May, 80 migrants had reportedly died on these journeys due to starvation or from heat stroke. Their tragedy had caught up with the nation. Raghav Mehrotra, a researcher at
“We’re all truly complicit.” Aajeevika Bureau, points out how class and caste biases shaped the national response. The middle class and elites are complicit in the exploitation of the informal sector, says Mehrotra. Caste barriers in India determine social capital. Most informal workers belong to “scheduled tribes” or “adivasi” castes - considered inferior in the traditional social hierarchy. The pandemic, in some ways, tugged at the national conscience. Images of people marching 1,000 miles sparked compassion and conversation. Scattered networks of non-profits and individuals offered them
food and supplies. The government, on its part, set up limited public shelters and food drives in cities. An economic stimulus came in March, but overlooked migrant workers, who as Mehrotra explains, are not covered by the federal framework for entitlements or benefits. The State addressed their hardships through a relief package in May, which many worried might be too little too late. Mehrotra notes that it is not the infrastructure which is lacking. Government docks currently house surplus grains which could feed hungry mouths. It is instead being made into sanitisers to be sold to big conglomerates. The government, he argues, is unwilling to work for the poor.”We’re all truly complicit.” In May, some states relaxed labour laws known to be notoriously restrictive. The latest reform is expected to help industries recover after the pandemic. For the workers, however, the “reform” negates their bargaining power. “What we’re saying is eventually you can go back to work, but in worse conditions than you were already in,” Anindita Adhikari says. The dismantling of laws during a crisis removes any illusion that the government cares about the working class. While the national economic output increased by 3 per cent between 2011 and
2016, inequity has grown in tandem. In January, the World Economic Forum found India’s social inequality to be staggering. It is no wonder that Pintu Kumar chose to go back home. For him, the lockdown offered an impossible choice. COVID-19 didn’t scare him, he says; hunger did. By May, India was recording 9,000 coronavirus cases daily. A flattened curve lies nowhere in sight, but the social and economic impact of the lockdown has made its mark.
“It is no longer a trade-off between lives and livelihood, but between lives and lives.” “In 2020, in a country like India...people are walking home because they don’t know where they will get their next meal from, to save themselves from starvation is an absolute shame.” This crisis, Adhikari argues, was completely avoidable.
Conservative US States to Restrict
Emergency abortion bans left some women with the choice of traveling during a pandemic or continuing an unwanted pregnancy Activists and counter protesters at the March for Life 2020. Image: Maria Oswald, Unsplash.
Pro-life protsters at the March for Life. Image: Maria Oswald, Unsplash.
By TALIA SAMUELSON
ike any other month, this April thousands of women in ten conservative American states discovered they were pregnant when they did not want to be. Unlike any other month, they found themselves facing an impossible choice: continue an unwanted pregnancy, or undertake the risk of travel during a pandemic to a state that would still perform an abortion. The coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity for traditionally conservative states—who in recent history have tried to limit abortion access —to pass emergency bans under the guise of protecting the public. Governors maintain that these limits are not about abortion itself, but the Personal Protective Equiptment (PPE) used during surgical abortions that should be designated for medical personnel treating COVID-19. As a result, just as people who need hip replacements, laser eye surgery, and cataracts operations have to wait, so too do women who want to have an abortion: all are catergorized as non-essential procedures. In the United States, many laws regulating education, family, health, taxes, and more fall under the purview of the state rather than the federal government. And so in March when states began to issue lockdown and quarantine orders, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas all issued orders limiting or completely banning abortions as a part of
quarantine restrictions. These orders ranged from temporary bans of surgical but not medical abortions, to complete bans, with no exceptions made for cases of rape or incest. Some of these orders have been overturned by a judge, and some states which initially issued blanket bans on non-essential procedures including abortions have since let the orders expire rather than explicitly lift the ban on abortion itself alone. According to an abortion provider in Texas who wished
The longterm effects of the abortion ban during coronavirus are personal as well as constitutional to remain anonymous, “They didn’t want to say, the abortion clinics have won and we are going to let them perform abortions again. They wanted to be able to save face in front of their constituents, [by saying] they can go back to whatever they were doing before, because now we are no longer banning any urgent procedures.” The expired and remaining restrictions could still have larger implications for the future of abortion in the United States. Previous legislation meant to restrict
abortion access, such as outlawing it after six weeks gestation, has often been struck down before it ever went into effect. This time, the restrictions went into effect immediately with instant consequences. And though most states that banned abortions in March have since let those bans expire, it remains significant for those who see it as a trial run for further bans in the future. Dr. Mary Ziegler, a law professor and abortion historian explained, “...if courts are not clear on the limits of those [state emergency] powers, then you get into questions of how do you know if there is an emergency, who gets to decide whether there’s an emergency, how do you know if the emergency ends. And if courts are going to just defer to states on that, then red states could easily find all kinds of other emergencies as a way to justify restricting abortion rights too.” The longterm effects of the abortion ban during the COVID-19 pandemic are personal as well as constitutional. The Texas abortion provider revealed that although he has seen a slight increase in patients fleeing to the more lenient New Mexico, many people simply can’t afford it. “It means that a lot of people who aren’t ready to have a child are going to have a child... there’s a constitutional right to abortion care in the US, people should have this right and for a month in Texas that right was removed. For a lot of people that meant having to continue pregnancies that otherwise they wouldn’t have been forced to continue.”
Is COVID-19 Really Making People Quit Smoking? More than 300,000 people in the UK have stopped smoking during the pandemic, but some worry the change won’t last
By GAIA LAMPERTI
efore the lockdown, 25-year-old Elena Buzzo liked to smoke a few cigarettes while having a beer with her university friends in Dublin. But when Italy closed its borders in early March, she moved back to her parents’ flat and stopped smoking. Since then, she has only smoked three cigarettes in over two months. “I wasn’t going to quit when I came back,” Buzzo says, “but my family doesn’t smoke.” So, fearing for her parents’ health in the midst of a respiratory disease outbreak, she no longer feels like lighting up in the house. “Smoking outside is a mess,” she adds. “I’d have to wear a mask and gloves. Also, touching my face is not a great idea.” Italian health authorities strongly recommended that smokers quit since the beginning of the lockdown. Italy’s national health service has highlighted that smokers are more vulnerable to COVID-19, not only due to the gesture of bringing the hands to the mouth, which facilitates transmission, but also the potential for underlying lung disease or reduced lung capacity due to smoking. Such recommendations held strong despite a French study released in April that tentatively suggested smokers are unexpectedly less at risk of COVID-19, as nicotine might be a protective factor against
contracting the virus. In the UK, the country with the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, the number of smokers has also dropped. Over 300,000 Brits quit because of the pandemic and another 2.4m are cutting back, according to a survey by the anti-smoking campaign Ash. For Londoner Matthew Taylor, 28, it happened naturally. “Before the lockdown, I just smoked in the social setting, so the fact that now it’s no longer possible is the big reason why I’ve stopped. There is no temptation.”
Over 300,000 Brits quit because of the pandemic Taylor says he is now trying to get healthier by running long distance during the extra free time. “I am not smoking for that reason as well,” he adds. What works for 58-year-old Bart Haneveld is to “start doing something else at the moment I really want to smoke, such as watering the plants or cleaning up.” He has smoked for most of his life but, fed up with rising cigarette prices, he took this
Lighting up a cigarette brings hands close to mouths and can cause COVID-19 transmission. Image: Unsplash.
opportunity to quit. Whether out of fear of the disease, new quarantine health goals, or the lack of social contexts for smoking, it seems that the lockdown has inspired many people to drop their habit. The #QuitForCovid campaign has been trending on Twitter, and a surge in demand for smoking cessation products saw a 54 per cent increase in sales during the third week of March. From their side, tobacco companies have joined the fight against COVID-19 as well. Tobacco giant Philip Morris International made a controversial donation of 50 ventilators to the Greek government as infections mounted in the country, while British American Tobacco is now working on a vaccine using tobacco leaves. The trend towards kicking the habit looks promising, but what will become of all these good intentions when the spectre of the virus is gone? Counselling psychologist Michael Padraig Acton points out cigarettes are not only a physical addiction but a social ritual too. “The addictive nature of nicotine leaves the system within four days, the rest is social and habitual,” he explains. “This time was much easier for me,” says Mattia Manerba, 26, who had tried quitting cigarettes before but has now gone without for over five weeks. “I’m not partying, I’m not meeting friends for a coffee, I’m not going to work. I have no reason to smoke.” According to psychologist Acton, the loss of social interactions associated with tobacco can indeed make it easier to quit, making these quarantined months a perfect opportunity to do so. But when the lockdown is lifted and social relations restored, it is likely that many exsmokers will go back to their addiction. As Elena Buzzo readily admits: “I know that as soon as everything returns to normal, I’ll probably resume.”
“Hack the Crisis” contestants, an online hackathon held during COVID-19. Image: Garage 48
SHOWCASING YOUNG TALENT: HACKING THE CRISIS
Hackathons are an opportunity for young people to improve their future while problem-solving the pandemic
By CRISTINA CARRASCO
ne of the few things that Amrid Baveja, a high school student from California, and Péter Lakatos, a recent Master’s graduate from Budapest, have in common is that they have improved their chances for a better future while helping solve problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Neither of them has participated in your typical TV contest. Instead, they have succeeded in another type of talent show: hackathons. Traditionally, hackathons are contests of ideas where people team up and try to solve a given problem — for instance in health, education or finance — usually through technology. The current pandemic makes creative solutions more important than ever. Open to people of most ages and economic backgrounds, these events tend to attract young people. They may seem only open to engineers, coders, or tech geeks, but they welcome all types of skills. “We need business developers, communication experts, editors, etc.,” says Merit Vislapu, project manager at Garage48, an organiser of these events. COVID-19, has changed the established format of hackathons. The pandemic has moved them online, allowing people from all over the world to enter and to work together. Since there is no need to be physically present, it is easier to find and collaborate with teammates.
The goal of hackathons has changed too – instead of looking for a winner, organisers hope to find projects that can solve specific problems caused by the pandemic and to do so as quickly as possible. This could be good news to young people who, according to the United Nations, will be some of the hardest hit by unemployment due to COVID-19. In the UK alone, youth unemployment could rise by 640,000 this year, according to a report from the Resolution Foundation think tank. .
Hackathons have become a great recruiting tool
Against this backdrop, record numbers of contestants are taking part in these events. The Global Hack has become the largest online hackathon in the world, and EUvsVirus has one of the highest number of ideas submitted in one contest, with close to 2,200 entries. “We are amazed by what is happening,” says project manager Vislapu. Her company, Garage48, has organised almost 70 of these events during the pandemic. In her experience, usually, only one or two ideas a year are genuinely implemented, whereas they now have had more than eight ideas turned into real projects from just
one hackathon. “They’ve become a great recruiting tool,” she says. The Global Hack’s media manager, Arnaud Castaignet, explains that in these uncertain times, hackathons provide prime opportunities for young people to invest in their future through networking and finding entrepreneurial opportunities or funding. Especially since “countries can’t lose more time.” “Professionals and big organisations are joining these initiatives and are beginning to see the value in it,” says recent Master’s graduate Péter Lakatos, a member of Team Discover. His team scored a prize in the EUvsVirus hackathon for creating eyeglasses that allow a patient to monitor their own vital signs, saving nurses’ time. Amrid Baveja and the rest of his InsideScoop team, who won The Global Hack with an app that improves studentteacher engagement, had the chance to connect with great mentors and entrepreneurs. “We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to connect with them in any other way,” Bajeva says. Hackathons are not, however, a magic formula for future success. Cataignet from The Global Hack says the hardest part is what comes afterwards. “You need a follow-up, work as hard as you can to take advantage of the resources you are given,” he says.
Péter Lakatos and Márton Elodi working on their winning design for EU vs. Virus hackathon. Image: Péter Lakatos
To Survive the Pandemic Image: Pixabay
Despite sharp declines in revenue, some startups are using coronavirus to their advantage
By AURORE HEUGAS
ot everyone is a victim of the COVID-19 economic crisis. Some startups are doing better than ever, taking advantage of the global lockdown to create new, indemand services. Somdip Dey is one of the co-founders of London-based startup Nosh Technologies, a food management app that uses artificial intelligence to remind users of the expiry dates of the food in their fridge, suggests recipes for those items, and shows users their food buying and wastage trends. Nosh was created in three weeks, as a response to panic-buying when the outbreak began spreading in Europe. Nosh’s timing was perfect; the company brought in Plug and Play Ventures as an investor for a still-undisclosed amount from the start. “I believe hard work, product market fit, having a profitable business
model, the right investors, good mentors, perfect timing and a bit of luck are the elements you need for great success no matter the crisis”, says Dey. Startup Genome, a research and policy advisory organisation, recently conducted a global survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on startups. It turns out 74 per cent of startups around the world saw their revenues decline since the beginning of the crisis, while 16 per cent saw their revenues drop more than 80 per cent . In comparison, The Guardian reports that consultancy firm Capital Economics found that 85 per cent of larger stock market-listed firms had enough funds to meet their liabilities and wage bills for more than six months without further revenue. Most startups are too new to have earned enough revenue to survive without help. Still, some are thriving during the
crisis, by offering just the right in-demand services. For instance, the Nosh app’s timely response to lockdown panic-buying earned it a place in the top 10 of free apps for productivity in the UK’s Google Play store. For other startups, offering the right product led to increased interest and activity, but success brought mixed results. Brooklyness is a start-up providing subscription-based scooters in New York City. Former product manager Luc Silver says the firm first saw demand increase as commuters searched for alternatives to riding the subway. However, as demand increased, they ran into a sudden supply crunch. “The issue was that we were in the midst of trying to raise money and, because of COVID-19, all the personal meetings froze up. We were relying on that funding to buy more
Startups are Getting Startup Lisboa’s logo. Image: Startup Lisboa
scooters to be able to meet the demand we were facing,” Silver explains. Isabela Waksman, a Montreal-based business analyst, thinks smaller companies have the ability to rebound. “Startups have a leg up on larger companies when it comes to flexibility: the small size and at times lesser costs make it easier to pivot into something else when the situation becomes difficult.” André Costa, head of strategy at startup incubator Startup Lisboa, agrees. “What we have seen from our startups is a great attempt at repositioning themselves to stay relevant during this period and to keep the clients and the work they’ve built so far,” Costa says. One example Costa gave is LUGGit, part of Startup Lisboa’s portfolio. The mobile app allows travellers in Lisbon and Porto to request a “keeper” that collects their luggage wherever they are, stores it for them and then delivers the luggage to the airport or anywhere else when needed. The travel industry has been heavily hit by the pandemic, leaving LUGGit without customers. “They realised that what they have is the ability to transport items from
A Brooklyness scooter. Image: Brooklyness
“Good mentors, perfect timing and a bit of luck are the elements you need for great success no matter the crisis ” one place to another” Costa explains. LUGGit temporarily pivoted its service to helping people in Portugal to send clothes, medicine or food to their loved ones during lockdown. LUGGit was one of the lucky ones, in that it had managed to get funded before the crisis started.
Some startups are doing better than ever, taking advantage of the global lockdown Start-ups in the earlier stages of development and without existing investment must find a way to adapt their technology or services to the “new normal”. “Another startup of ours usually provides experiences for visitors in different cities. People are now starting to go outside again
but during lockdown that was not possible. They changed their product by offering experiences you could do from home online,” says Start-up Lisboa’s Costa. Another way for affected startups to survive is to take advantage of government schemes. Analyst Isabela Waksman points to free incubators and accelerators being held to help start-ups get through difficult times. Governments around the world have also put in place liquidity plans to support their start ups. France and Germany have provided four and two billion euros forward, respectively in financial assistance. With lockdown measures easing up across Europe, startups might be able to breathe again, with a new perspective on their business. As André Costa puts it: “It’s a bit too early to know what the long-term impact will be for the way startups function. What we know is that the situation happening now made everyone stop for a while and rethink what they were doing, rethink some of the assumptions and principles that were leading their companies.”
Online Education Has Widened China’s Urban–Rural Education Gap Coronavirus has exposed China’s digital divide; only half of rural students can take online classes
hen the COVID-19 pandemic hit China, the government ordered schools to move classes online and to make sure “no one was left behind”. But for Teacher Tang, the only primary school teacher in his village, online education exists solely on TV news. Tang teaches at the one primary school in Banjing village, located in a poor part of Hunan province. Without devices or help from the outside, Tang found himself struggling to ensure that “no one” was left behind. “I have no idea how to use this technology. Since the school closed, the whole teaching process stopped,” says Tang. Before COVID-19, Tang was already doing a tough job. There are approximately 40 students in his school ranging from 7-11 years old. Tang must teach all these children, from preschool to third grade, all the required school subjects, including Chinese, mathematics and social studies. As schools gradually reopened in May, the education gap between the rich and the poor has become apparent. This may have a far-reaching impact on both students and teachers in rural areas. “It seems like we’ve been left behind half of the semester. Now I have so much pressure to try to catch up with others in urban cities,” says Tang. The inequality between rural and urban
China, in relation to teacher numbers, qualifications and material resources, means that rural areas rely largely on help from outside. Kindforce is an education support organisation in China that has been sending volunteer teachers to Banjing village since early 2019. However, the pandemic drove them away from the region during the lockdown. “Our volunteer teachers are there to narrow the gap. In urban areas, every 50 students will have four to five qualified teachers looking after them.. In rural villages, only one teacher is allocated to 50 students but with lower qualifications and some even don’t have a teaching certificate,” says Yang Ling, programme manager at Kindforce. In 2018, the Hunan provincial government requested schools in big cities to live-stream lessons to schools in small towns. But due to a lack of facilities, children in Banjing, who are among those most in need, are still unable to benefit. “It’s totally unrealistic that every family can afford a computer in Banjing. The best thing we can hope for is each school having at least one computer, and that’s what we are now
Yasmin Dangor/ Unsplash
By YI PAN
raising donations for,” says Yang. Half of all rural children in China cannot access online classes Poor children in Banjing are not the only ones to be hit hard. In April, the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), a non-profit institution, conducted a nation-wide survey among 36,000 students and 1,281 teachers. The results show that half of all rural students cannot attend online classes as only 7.3 per cent of them have computers at home. The secretary-general of CDRF, Fang Jing, told the Chinese news agency, Caixin, that in addition to the lack of broadband and computers, the absence of parental companionship is also a problem. Most parents in rural areas are not well-educated, and nearly a quarter of the rural students surveyed say their parents are unable to help them. Meanwhile, in small cities and towns, the online class attendance rates are much higher (from 70 to 80 per cent), and even more so in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Chen Xixi, an eight-year-old pupil at Shanghai Jing’an Primary School, has been receiving unimpeded daily online classes since February. In addition, her father bought her extra online English tutorials with native speak-
A Kindforce volunteer teaching in Banjing. Credit: Kindforce
other’s backs, especially during the lockdown period,” says Victor Chen, Xixi’s father. According to the China Internet Network Information Centre, the number of e-learning platform users reached 423 million in March, compared to 201 million at the end of last year.
“It’s totally unrealistic that every family can afford a computer in Banjing”
Xixi Chen studying online at home. Credit: Victor Chen
ers, which costs 120 yuan (£14) for a 25-minute tutorial. She is also taking online ballet lessons every week. “There’s a common saying in China: ‘don’t let your child lose at the starting line’. Parents here are competing behind each
Although 64.5 per cent of people across the country have access to the internet, only 7.3 per cent are in rural areas. In fact, China launched the “education informatisation” project a decade ago, to integrate internet and multimedia technologies in the field of education. Large sums of money have been poured in since then. But rural children are still waiting for computers and broadband coverage so that they can begin catching up with their peers and get even a general idea of what the internet is and the opportunities that come along with it.
Children at Banjing Primary School; credit: Kindforce
Lockdown Tutoring: Widening the Gap?
Child learning via tablet. Image: Stem t4l/Unsplash.
By FRANCESCA ADKINS
isa Gardner is one of many parents who’s taken up the challenge of homeschooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Online lessons are not offered at her children’s south London primary school, so, since 20 March, Gardner has been responsible for teaching her daughter, Scarlet, Year 6, and son Barney, Year 3. Both children’s special educational needs require her individual attention. Gardner, a former nurse, admits that it’s hard to replace a professional teacher. “They get tired quickly, which goes hand in hand with dyslexia. I’m also no maths teacher and teaching maths is an absolute nightmare.” Homeschooling may now be the norm for most UK children, but the quality of education received in lockdown varies. Many schools have been apprehensive about implementing online lessons, afraid that students with taxing home environments will fall behind. Cecily Aldington, a teacher at a west London school says access to laptops, WiFi, and parents who lack the time or motivation to supervise their children are some of the barriers preventing her from delivering online lessons. “It’s a lose-lose right now. We’re not stretching the most able and we’re also not supporting those without resources,” Aldington says. “Then there’s the school meal debacle. Half of our kids relied on having a hot meal at school, how can they
With many schools across the UK still shuttered due to COVID-19, online tutoring offers parents a reprieve from home schooling — if they can afford it concentrate at home if they’re hungry?” For wealthier parents, temporary disruptions can be smoothed over by remote tutors. Laura Williams, a tutor at a leading London tutorial agency, found demand for her services peaked over Easter, especially in core subjects. “It was crazy. I was doing eight to nine contact hours a day, five days a week. I would wake up dreaming of the times tables,” she says. After the holidays, most of her clients’ schools developed robust online timetables, but Williams’ workload remains high. Sessions cost roughly £75 per hour, though often her role is to watch over pupils virtually. “One child spends most of the time messing around with on-screen filters
“This has hit like a tonne of bricks” and special effects—last week she even sang to the camera. It’s a really expensive way to make your child sit down and do the work,” she says. The inequalities magnified by private tutoring is not a new problem—some argue private lessons give students an unfair advantage on entrance exams and university admissions. But in the current crisis, the disparities are even starker. In April, after social mobility experts put the coronavirus “learning loss” for disadvantaged children at up to six months, experts
rallied for a national effort to close the gap. Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, called for an “army” of volunteer tutors composed of graduates, retired teachers and Ofsted workers to step in when lockdown ends. Jacob Kelly, a second-year student at the University of Oxford, is rising to the challenge. On the day schools were closed he launched the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative, a free e-learning service for secondary school students without access to private tuition. Kelly began by passing a sign-up form among friends and the scheme has grown into a network of 3,000 graduates offering online support. He understands private tutors’ needs to earn a living, so he asks graduates to donate one hour of their time to the project for every three hours of paid tutoring. However, he’s the first to admit his impact is limited. “At the moment we’re only really able to help the most advantaged of the disadvantaged students. Those who have access to technology and the physical space to be able to sit quietly and have a session.” As schools have begun to partially reopen in June, the inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 will start to show. Cecily Aldington voices the concern of many teachers: “This has hit like a tonne of bricks. All the hard work that has gone into schools in the past 10 years to close the gap has disappeared in the last few months.”
Abuse is a Family Member For victims of domestic abuse in Russia, staying home does not mean staying safe By Inna Gensh
home should be a place of shelter, providing a sense of safety during this pandemic. But for many it has become a trap, as they are unable to escape the confines of their abusers.
Illustration. Source: Pixabay
Domestic violence has increased worldwide during the pandemic. However, in Russia, the issue is an ongoing political and social problem rooted in the country’s cultural history. “People face condemnation when speaking up about abuse situations,” says Sofia Rusova, staff member for the Consortium of Women’s Non-governmental Associations, which provides legal assistance to abuse victims. In Russia, a so-called “family matter” does not allow strangers’ involvement. The country lacks any legal mechanisms to protect those trapped in abusive relationships and is the only country in the Council of Europe that has not adopted a law against domestic violence. The only substantial psychological or legal assistance victims can hope to obtain is from NGOs, which have seen heightened workloads during the pandemic. “Over April we calculated that the number of complaints regarding domestic violence has increased by 10–15 per cent, but a more accurate statistic
can be summed up after the official quarantine is completed,” says Rusova. The Crisis Centre for Women has also seen a surge in requests for help between January and April. Hana Korchemney, consulting psychologist for the centre, says: “It is clear that there is a strong increase in online applications.” The centre saw online applications for assistance rise from 321 in January to 608 in April. Specialists think it may be especially difficult for some victims to contact crisis centres because of their abuser’s constant proximity under lockdown measures.
“A person calls, then starts to speak, and then never gets in touch again.”
also face difficulties and these are things for which we cannot pay.” She says the spike in abuse cases could have been better addressed if Russian authorities had adopted the Domestic Violence Bill before the pandemic. “Political will is required. Politicians themselves should vote for the law. Unfortunately, at the moment, we do not see any significant support for it from the ruling elite,” adds Rusova. This attitude among the ruling elite stems from the prevalence of traditional values within society. “Russia is a patriarchal country where it is considered possible to humiliate a woman and beat her up when you know that you won’t be punished for that,” says Rusova. Domestic abuse is part of a larger set of systemic gender issues that can only be changed by persistent efforts to draw attention to the issue and the need for legal reform. “The further we delay changes, the more victims and the more illusions that this is normal we get,” says Rusova. The way some small businesses have responded to the call for help despite their own struggles shines a light of hope on the issue. Even if the pandemic cannot force the government to change its attitude, society is showing that it can change on its own.
“Phone calls disconnect,” says Rusova. Another obstacle brought on by the pandemic is the inability to take in victims as many shelters have closed in efforts to quell the spread of the virus. “In St. Petersburg, the overwhelming majority or even all of the governmental public housing dedicated to help families and children are closed on quarantine,” says Korchemney. “We have launched a project where we asked hotels if it is possible to provide a couple of their empty rooms for social living and some agreed.” Similarly, the Crisis Centre For Women has asked taxi services for assistance in getting women to the shelter. Korchemney says, “It is an incredibly interesting thing as currently small businesses Author: Noah Buscher. Source: Unsplash
The Age of Anxiety Image: Jorge Salvador/Unsplash
A World After the Lockdown
Social distancing and an indefinite lockdown form a perfect storm for mental health issues. Will a crisis of anxiety follow? Image: WHO
By SAUMYA KALIA
or Shige in Akita, Japan, the routine of social distancing is all too familiar. It is one he has known for the better part of his 28 years. He rarely makes it out of his parents’ house and spends his time reading or in front of screens. “People think I’m lazy”, he says. But that label is incorrect - he is among Japan’s 1.5 million hikikomori, referring to a section
of the population that engages in extreme social isolation and confinement. Like Shige, they withdraw from society for more than six months at a time, interacting only with family members. It is not a choice, he clarifies. The last time Shige interacted with people face-to-face was three years ago. With millions placed under regimens of social distancing in an effort to flatten
The UN reports a rise in anxiety levels during lockdown.
Culture “anxious nation.” Prince’s Trust, a charity for unemployed and vulnerable young people in the UK, found more than half of unemployed youth are anxious about everyday life. Four out of ten said this anxiety stopped them from leaving their house. Years later, millennials in the US have also reported high levels of anxiety.
“People think I’m lazy. To be a shut-in is not a choice” Unemployed people, the study said, were thus at risk of isolating themselves. Today a stagnant economy has caused a swell of unemployment. In America, a record 40 million people filed for unemployment benefits due to the economic fallout of the pandemic. In India, the estimate reached almost 112 million. Dr Tan says work-related stress can be just as damning. Work-from-home models, prevalent during the pandemic, find people bogged down by 24/7 work cycles. A survey by LinkedIn found 56 per cent of people felt more stressed about
work than before the lockdown. Social distancing has amplified internet use and social media engagement. The Global Web Index found almost 80 per cent of people in the US and UK are consuming more content since the outbreak began. While Dr Yong finds technology plays a useful role for hikikomori by allowing them to perform rudimentary tasks without interacting with people, for nonhikikomoris, the lack of real-time interaction can fuel patterns of social anxiety. Fears of infection or losing family members along with stressors of the pandemic like isolation, uncertainty, and economic turmoil have caused anxiety levels to surge globally. Dr Yong believes prolonged social withdrawal could have lasting effects. In May, the United Nations warned that these factors are “sowing the seeds of a mental health crisis.” Dr Yong advocates strong government intervention, peer support, and communication platforms to prevent such a crisis. Conversation around loneliness and anxiety has never been more pressing, Dr Yong notes. When in dire straits, being hopeful remains the only option.
the COVID-19 pandemic curve, the lifestyle has entered the mainstream conversation as people have begun identifying with hikokomoris. Research suggests anxiety, isolation, and uncertainty lie on the spectrum of ‘social withdrawal’, with hikikomori falling on the extreme end. Possible reasons for hikikomori include low self-affirmation and fear of exclusion or of new environments, according to an Akita University study by Dr Roseline Yong and Dr Kyoko Namura. Dr Yong’s research also found correlations between hikikomori and the lack of employment opportunities and excessive technology use. These patterns of social behaviour can also be seen at a global level. The phenomenon of social withdrawal can be found in parts of India, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, and more. Dr Marcus Tan, clinical psychologist at the NHS, believes countries like the United Kingdom may not be impervious. “It may simply be a case of people calling the same thing different names,” he says. In 2015, a UK report by Michael Orton found financial, housing, and job insecurity was contributing to the making of an
Embracing a New Normal: How COVID-19 Could Change Greetings Forever
Man waves to himself. Image: Ioana Cristiana, Unsplash
The kisses, handshakes, and hugs that make up our social interactions also accelerate the spread of infections and disease. How are people adapting their greetings after COVID-19?
By ALICE CROSSLEY
arly in March, a Twitter video of two masked men in China tapping their feet together went viral. The video offered a solution to a pressing global issue - how do we greet each other during the COVID-19 pandemic? Mary M. Mitchell, author and expert on greetings etiquette, defines greetings as “signals that each individual respects the other and bears no arms. They are signals of peace and diplomacy. And with
closer relationships, greetings are signs of affection and welcome.” Greetings are integral to many cultures, and have often been passed down through centuries of tradition. But with the World Health Organisation (WHO) advising to keep “at least one meter away from others”, the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered both intimate and formal greetings hazardous to public health and safety. A 2015 study found that British participants were significantly less comfortable with physical contact than those from Finland, France, Italy and Russia. In the Mediterranean kissing is a part of daily life, frequently used to greet family, friends, and even strangers. In France, the Health Minister has explicitly advised against “la bise” (the kiss) as part of social distancing guidelines. “Spain has a warm
culture. We can’t help to kiss, touch and hug each other,” says Cristina Carrasco, Reset staff writer. “Now, you walk down the street and see that kisses have been replaced by people bumping their elbows or feet. It is still going to be hard to change a habit that’s so ingrained in our culture, but we are slowly adapting, and you can see that the warmth is still there even if we can’t touch each other,” she says. “In Italy, we also usually greet each other with kisses on both cheeks,” says Reset art director Gaia Lamperti. “Body contact is very important and shows you care about somebody. It is entirely part of our culture, so it is taking out something very important by telling us not to touch each other.” And touching isn’t just significant in Europe, “the Hongi is a sacred form of greeting in New Zealand,” says staff writer Lizzy de Jonge on the indigenous Māori tradition of pressing noses and foreheads against each other. “This form of greeting is incredibly important for Māori people and it will be really sad to see it affected,” she says. In 2002, the SARS - or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - coronavirus
(SARS-CoV) epidemic broke out in China, reaching Hong Kong in early 2003. “Generally, people wanted to avoid face to face conversation during SARS,” says Angel Wong, a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “we didn’t do handshakes and tended to nod when we saw each other on the street.” Seventeen years later, the handshake has been made redundant once again and alternative greetings are being experimented
“Body contact is very important and shows you care.” with all over the world. The foot tap went on to be nicknamed the “Wuhan shake”; New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden made headlines for swapping handshakes for elbow bumps, and Paris Fashion Week in
February saw influencers greeting each other by squeezing one another’s biceps. Wong warns it wasn’t until SARS was completely eradicated that more intimate greetings were resumed in Hong Kong. “I think the changes in greeting will last until COVID-19 is eradicated, or we have any vaccine or drug to control and treat the infection,” she says. After three decades as a greetings expert Mitchell agrees the COVID-19 pandemic could see long term changes to the way we say hello and goodbye. “I think we are going to see tremendous changes to greeting culture,” she says, “but there are ways to be more familiar and kinder without touching.” In India, for example, “a widely accepted salutation is that of folding hands and saying ‘namaste’,” says our editor Saumya Kalia, “greetings weren’t a large-scale pandemic casualty in India as it doesn’t endorse a lot of touching in its cultural paradigm.” Other socially distanced approved greetings include the Thai wai - a gentle bow of the head with the hands pressed in
prayer, rooted in the influences of Buddhism and Hinduism on Thai culture; the Tibetan greeting of sticking out your tongue; or the simple Zimbabwean clap.
“There are ways to be more familiar and kinder without touching.” Only time will tell whether our cultural habits snap back into place, or whether, like Mitchell predicts, there will be a shift in greeting culture for fear of another pandemic. But for now, Mitchell says, “I find myself crossing my hands over my heart, making eye contact and giving a tiny bow to let the other person know that I’m honouring them and that I am respecting them enough not to potentially infect them.”
Will Phillip’s mural is dedicated to frontline workers. It sits in front of the usually packed Colony Bar. Image: Shaelin Fritzsch.
Vancouver artists’ lockdown murals send message of The Vancouver Mural Festival is bringing 40 murals to brighten up shuttered storefronts in downtown Vancouver
By DOMINIQUE BERG
ancouver resident Jessica Ng had been avoiding the boarded-up streets of the city on her daily runs. She says the normally bustling downtown had become a ghost town, with sheets of plywood installed to prevent theft and vandalism. However, it was not long before Ng was running on the streets again. The Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF), a non-profit devoted to the community’s artistic and cultural development, launched the #MakeArtWhileApart project. The project organised the painting of over forty murals on the shuttered storefronts that line downtown Vancouver. “It brought life back into the streets,” Ng says. Laura Schoenherr, another local resident, says it has been an adjustment seeing the city shut down and friends lose their jobs but the murals offer inspiration and “a
sense of togetherness.” Lead curator and art director for the festival, Drew Young, says, “We wanted to spread a message of hope and celebrate those working their hardest on the front lines.” Artists’ eagerness to uplift the city with their work — regardless of the small commissions — and the “outrageously positive” response from the community made for “a tear jerker moment,” according to Young. Artist Michael Rozen’s piece etched out the phrase, “we will play again.” He says, “the words are meant to signify this future that will come, and to not lose sight of that while we’re in the eye of the storm.” While some pieces looked to the future, others focused on the present. Artist Tierney Milne chose the writer Haruki Marukami’s quote, “we all see the same moon,” for one of her murals.
“It brought life back into the streets”
The messages have helped provide a counterpoint to the increase in reported incidents of anti-Asian racism in Vancouver. This has been surprising for some in a city known for its multiculturalism and where 44 per cent of the population identifies as ethnically Asian. “I think as a whole, this city does it better than other cities,” says artist Carson Ting, regarding Vancouver’s handling of race
Artist Will Phillips painting his mural, which was inspired by WWII propaganda art. Image: Shaelin Fritzsch.
Culture Mural by Mark Tilling. Image: Jessica Ng.
Hope relations. Still, Ting says of the increase in anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic, “there’s a heightened sense of it; and, especially in our family, I have two kids and when I’m out and about with them I always have my guard up. But thankfully everyone seems to be fine.” He says the community’s vocal appreciation for his and other artists work for the #MakeArtWhileApart project “definitely does help offset all the negativity that’s happening around racism.”
Like Ting, Jessica Ng has felt a heightened awareness of racism during the pandemic. “Sometimes when I am wearing my mask and my gloves, I do think, ‘oh my God, are people going to think that I’m from China and that I brought this virus here?’ It’s in the back of my mind, but nothing actually has happened. So I’m thankful for that.” Ng feels the VMF’s initiative has helped unify the city. “The amount of hope, or even just joy, that they created in the community by doing something small like that, I think
goes a long way.” As curator Drew Young says, “our narrative has always been very cultural-based and tries to celebrate as many different types of communities…as humanly possible.” On 19 May, Vancouver began its slow transition to a new normal, which has seen the murals begin to make their way down, uncovering the city’s gradually reopening businesses. But the light they brought during a time of darkness will not be forgotten.
“We will play again.” Mural by Michael Rozen. Image: @lightboxgallery.
View of San Antonio beach. Image: Unsplash.
Ibiza: Is the Party Over? Though Ibiza’s summer season looks bleak without foreign tourists, the pandemic could offer the famous party island a chance to reinvent itself
By GAIA LAMPERTI
he lights of San Antonio, the English quarter of Ibiza, are down. Its tiny streets, normally packed with British tourists partying at the many bars and nightclubs, are empty. This year, Europe’s most famous party destination in the Balearic Islands of Spain, is experiencing a summer season unlike any other. International travel has all but stopped since the world went into lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. As restrictions loosen up, experts have announced that, at least in the short term, the tourism industry is going local. Governments, including those in Italy and the UK, have called on citizens to holiday at home to help domestic tourism recover and curb the spread of COVID-19. The move risks disrupting economies that rely on foreign tourism and threatens seasonal workers that depend on summer incomes. “I am a bit scared, everything is still very quiet,” says Diletta Carlini, who lives in Ibiza’s old town and works as a beautician. Since she moved there four years ago, summer has always been her busiest time. Over three million foreign visitors pump the island’s economy every summer, allowing most of its 150,000 inhabitants to work for only a few months of the year and
live on savings until the following season. However, this year money is getting tight and residents may need to apply for unemployment benefits, explains Carlini. Before the pandemic, she was thinking of opening her own business, but now she might wait. “There will be no revenue this year, I’ll have to postpone,” Carlini says
“If we continue at this rate, the island will die.” with a sigh. “If we continue at this rate though, we won’t make it to October. The island will die.” The majority of Ibiza’s tourists are attracted to its renowned nightlife and dance music scene. Known for its “party tourism”culture, many visitors go to drink, dance, and party. But with its biggest venues shut down, international music events suspended, and social distancing measures in place, the island faces hard times. Ibiza’s €770m (£686m) summer music industry represents over half of all seasonal jobs; cancelling a summer schedule could consequently cost up to 4,000 positions. Some of the most famous nightclubs, Hï Ibiza, Ushuaïa, Amnesia and Eden, have
already suspended their events. Romeo Piatti, who is from Italy and owns the tour operator, Boat Party Ibiza, says everything is on pause now: “We have frozen all contracts until there are no specific protocols.” He adds, “If they allow us to work, we’ll do our best. But I also understand that people are afraid.” Piatti believes the crowd-filled fun typical of the island will have to be reworked: “The future of clubs is small V.I.P. areas for 8-10 people max. It’s the end of large dance halls.” However, he feels confident he will be able to continue organising boat parties: “On
Summer party at Ibiza’s club Ushuaïa. Image: Unsplash
Culture View of Ibiza’s crystalline waters. Image: Ibiza & Formentera Preservation Fund.
Atlantis bay, Ibiza. Image: Kate Benyon-Tinker.
Cala d’Hort, Ibiza. Image: Kate Benyon-Tinker.
boats, it’s easier to control the number of people and divide them into small groups,” he says before laughing and adding, “some people don’t even believe that the season is cancelled, we still get bookings.” Italian bartender Luca Di Fazio, 26, who has been to Ibiza several times, as both a tourist and a seasonal worker also believes the season will pull through: “Every year they say the season will be worse, but in the end, it’s always great.” He continues, “I don’t think international artists will give up this summer either. Ibiza will always be the European summer party.” Local DJs are keeping the island’s dance vibe going with rooftop livestreams. The world-famous club Pacha is hosting virtual house parties on its Facebook page. In response to the promise
“#SeeYouSoon” on the club’s page, one virtual clubber commented: “We will be back dancing together.” According to tourism professor Marco Garrido Cumbrera at the University of Sevilla, visitors could come back to the island if “facility sanitation measures with ozone generators for high-quality air, and the automation of tasks through mobile, such as check-in and automated payment” are established. Yet, the much-loved party culture which distinguishes Ibiza has also come under scrutiny and the pandemic could trigger lasting change on the island. Year after year the heavy tourism placed enormous pressure on the land, ecosystem, and population of Ibiza. A tourist to resident ratio of 25 to 1, the
A boat party organised by the tour operator Boat Party Ibiza. Image: Boat Party Ibiza.
world’s second-highest, has caused spikes in rental prices, with households now spending about 82 per cent of their income on housing, according to Ibiza Preservation Fund. The inundation of tourists has caused a growing need for infrastructure, increasing urbanisation by almost 61 per cent since 1990 and waste production on the island to 540kg per person every year. Mass tourism’s excesses can prove harmful to local residents’ daily lives, leading to ordinances banning happy hours and pub crawls in popular party spots in the Balearic Islands earlier this year. The pandemic’s repercussions for popular destinations around the world might put into perspective a concept of tourism that focuses on imported forms of entertainment rather than the celebration of local culture and scenic richness. “Indeed, the current crisis should serve Spain to attract more domestic tourists and promote more sustainable tourism, focused on rural destinations and, especially, inland municipalities with fewer inhabitants,” says Professor Cumbrera. This summer offers Ibiza an opportunity to diversify its tourism, to make up its lost nightclub covers by attracting visitors keen to explore its natural beauty and local culinary riches.
WHEN PANDEMIC Meets Resistance Fear of the coronavirus hasn’t stopped people from protesting around the world, although some have adapted their methods
By INNA GENSH
n 20 April, people wearing black began flooding Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel. Carrying flags and protest banners, they pushed back against the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But that is not what makes this story special. Members of the crowd wore face masks and kept a distance of about two meters from each other attempting to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Numerous demonstrations like this have taken place in Tel Aviv since April, introducing the world to a new phenomenon — the socially distant protest.
“There was a car protest in Poland. In the US, people came out in their cars and honked their horns.”
George Floyd protest in L.A., USA. Image: Mike Von/Unsplash
Mass demonstrations are now happening worldwide, as Black Lives Matters protesters demand justice for George Floyd, who died at the hands of a Minneanapolis officer, and call for an end to police brutality. Across the U.S., U.K., and Europe, thousands have gathered to fight for black lives, though social distancing measures remain in effect. When the virus first began to spread, protests were pushed out of the spotlight, as country after country introduced restrictions upon the freedom of movement and the right to assemble. Though countries across Europe are beginning to lift restrictions, social distancing measures are still the norm; in the UK, for example, lockdown limitations have eased to allow up to six people to meet outside — but all people from different households must stay two metres apart. Throughout the pandemic, government messaging has emphasised that staying
Protest. Image: Gaia Lamperti/Reset
Protest. Image: Pixabay
Protest. Image: Logan Weaver/Unsplash
Climate activists from Fridays For safe means staying home; and Future (FFF) have also reduced their crowded physical protests make it offline activities, choosing to strike difficult to remain socially distant. digitally. But overwhelmingly protesters are Each Friday, instead of going choosing to hit the streets anyway, outside and organising traditional modifying their methods to reflect the marches, activists post photos on current reality. social media with banners dedicated “People have become creative,” says to environmental problems, such Marta Achler, a senior legal expert at plastic overuse. the European Center for Not-for-Profit “The pandemic situation has Law Stichting. “We witnessed protests brought us some benefits. Many take place at a safe distance with people in Russia are scared to masks, so in a physical sense, some of protest because of the repression of them have gone ahead.” activists,” says Liuba, a Russian FFF Hong Kong’s government used the activist. pandemic as an opportunity to prevent “Many people are joining such people from continuing protests that activities because of their safety, began in 2019 against a now withdrawn Candlelight vigil to commemorate June 4th crackdown and oppose National ease, and quickness.” extradition bill, but now focus on Security Law in Hong Kong. Image: Rachel Cheung Still, the question remains whether police brutality, demands for democracy place where no one can stop them from online protests are safer than offline ones, as and opposition to attacks on freedoms. the internet reduces privacy. Citing the virus as a concern, the fighting for democracy. The feeling of safety online is an illusion: Beijing’s reaction to such actions was government banned an annual mass vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen predictable; the game was banned in actions on the Internet are highly traceable —not only for potential government Square massacre. But on 4 June, thousands mainland China. In Russia, several protests against the prosecution but also to other internet of people gathered at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park anyway, lighting candles and chanting government-imposed self-isolation regime users who may push back against certain have been coordinated using the mobile statements or views. pro-democracy slogans. For this reason, it seems that even though Though Hong Kong’s protests slowed apps Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Navigator. Using the “Conversations” tool, the pandemic has prompted new ways down during the height of the pandemic, tensions have risen in recent weeks due to participants dropped pins near the regional to hold protests, these methods will not China’s decision to impose new national government building and posted messages automatically replace the traditional form of security legislation, and locally, the passing expressing their discontent over the group gatherings. “To speak about the future of this [online] of a law that makes it illegal to mock the authorities’ actions. “Feed my cats, and I’ll stay home!” read one practice, I really think that it won’t stop and Chinese national anthem. Although protesters wore masks and tried message. “Declare the state of emergency or can be replaced only by offline protests,” says Liuba. to remain two metres apart, gathering in stop limiting people,” read another. It is too early to predict how the pandemic large crowds during the pandemic does pose era will further influence modern protest risks. culture. But the recent vigils in Hong Kong, The organisers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen protests in Tel Aviv, and Black Lives Matter vigil encouraged those who could not attend demonstrations worldwide suggest that to join the demonstration online by lighting people are willing to fight for worthy causes a candle wherever they were, and uploading despite the risks. a photo with the hashtag #6431Truth. “What has changed is that we have always Some activists in Hong Kong have also understood assembly as protest, always in taken action on a Nintendo Switch game opposition to something. called “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” But I think if you look at it more widely, Incredibly popular during the lockdown, the right to assemble is also an expression of this social simulation game allows its players solidarity,” says legal expert Achler. to create and furnish their ideal world, a
“People are joining such activities because of their safety, easiness, and quickness.”
Community Image: Coronavirus has no race, on Unsplash
New Zealand’s WeChat Vigilante Groups
The country’s Chinese community has faced heightened racism due to COVID-19, leading some to take matters into their own hands
By ELIZABETH DE JONGE
ictoria Yao says she feels too scared to go outside sometimes because of the way she looks. Instead, she asks her husband — who is white — to do the grocery shopping for her. “I’ve lived in New Zealand for over 15 years now and I’ve never felt like this. Like the colour of my skin and hair would affect how people see me. I knew racism existed in New Zealand, but not to this extent,” says Yao, a business owner and mother of three. New Zealand, the small island nation dominating international headlines for its charismatic leader and swift COVID-19 response, has seen a number of WeChat vigilante groups pop up as the country’s Chinese community continue to face unprecedented discrimination and fears for their safety. Police have raised alarm bells as over 10 groups were recently formed on the popular Chinese social media, messaging and payment platform, with members encouraging each other to take precautions as heightened racism triggered by COVID-19 leaves members of New Zealand’s Chinese community feeling unsafe and needing to take matters into their own hands. “I think what’s interesting about this narrative is that overseas, New Zealand is looked at as a safe haven, a paradise with a caring leader, but if you look at our domestic issues, it’s really bad. The racism towards Chinese in particular is terrible and that’s the dark part of New Zealand that isn’t broadcast overseas,” says Dandi Wang, director of NCTV, a Chinese news broadcast channel in New Zealand.
Though New Zealand recently lifted all COVID-19 restrictions, a strong antiChinese rhetoric has been quickly circulating in the country of five million due to the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission reported a sharp rise in racism complaints in the middle of the pandemic with Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon saying there was a particular rise in bullying and harassment towards Chinese a n d Asian people.
“A lot of us feel really unsafe and unwelcomed”
“I was sitting in a café and a man in a suit at another table, in a very hostile manner, told me if the Chinese would just stop eating bats none of this would’ve happened,” says Yao. The WeChat groups are also comprised of members sharing stories of abuse they’ve faced and advice on how to feel safe. A member of one of these groups explains that the group allowed people to feel connected and not alone, and should be viewed in a positive light.
Jenny Feng, a 59-year-old Chinese migrant who owns an antique store expressed sadness over how people treated her 82-year-old mother, and says that although she doesn’t agree with the vigilante groups, she can understand why they have popped up. “It makes me really sad. My mother doesn’t speak any English and she doesn’t understand why people move away from her when we are in public recently and I don’t really want to explain it to her either,” Feng says. “I hope this all goes away soon, because I don’t feel like this is the New Zealand I know.” WeChat, which attracts over 1.17 billion monthly users, is causing concern due to its ties to the Chinese government, and the latest string of Chinese vigilante groups has further added to this sceptical sentiment. Concerns have been raised that these WeChat groups represent a growing dissatisfaction from Chinese migrants in New Zealand towards their host country and how they view New Zealand’s government. There are also fears that the strong anti-Chinese sentiment they are facing will push overseas Chinese into the arms of the Chinese Communist Party. New Zealand is one of the 61 countries backing a call for an independent inquiry into the outbreak of Covid-19 that originated in Wuhan, China. Chinese authorities have described the inquiry as a “witch-hunt.” Image: Viktor Talashuk, phone, on Unsplash
Not Just for Lockdown UK animal welfare groups express concern about spike in pet adoption during pandemic
By ZOE BELL
t five months old, Maple the Mastiff-mix has spent almost half her life in lockdown. Her owner, Mollie Millington, brought her home from the London rescue
centre All Dogs Matter in mid-March, just a week before the UK’s social distancing measures began. As avid travellers, Millington and her husband, James had never found the
right time to adopt a puppy. For them, the lockdown presented a chance to stay home and dedicate themselves to raising a pet. “We haven’t slept since we got her, but other than that it’s been great,” laughs Millington.
During the lockdown, Millington Interest in pet adoption has has been attending online dog spiked in the past few months, training courses. She says Maple’s as people seek companionship, training is going well, but the puppy affection, and a source of is already having a tough time distraction from the ongoing being left alone. Millington worries COVID-19 pandemic. Google Maple will struggle after the couple searches for “adopt a puppy” returns to their full-time jobs. rose by 133 per cent during the Karen Wild, first month of the a certificated lockdown. clinical animal But experts behaviourist and see long-term author of Being consequences to a Dog: the world bringing home a from your dog’s “pandemic puppy.” point of view, Dogs Trust, the says socialisation UK’s largest dog is a major concern, since dogs are welfare charity, has tweaked its famous health problems. As unemployment rises and the not mixing with people and animals holiday-time slogan — “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas” — to remind people that economic impact of the pandemic hits, outside their households. “I do think we’ll see a generation of shelters worry that new dogs may be a dog is also “not just for lockdown.” Valerie Hosegood, owner of Halfway abandoned or returned post-lockdown. ‘COVID puppies’ that we will perhaps have Homes Dog Rescue in Collingham, Animal behaviourists also wonder how to give extra consideration to,” Wild says. She also notes that separation anxiety will England, has been inundated with enquiries social distancing will affect young dogs’ be an issue following the return to “normal.” about adoption and fostering during development. She encourages owners lockdown, but she to maintain a sustainable worries about potential routine throughout adopters’ motives. lockdown. “It would be very She carefully evaluates wise not to let the dog sit each applicant before on your knee all day, even allowing them to adopt. though it might make you “We want to know: are feel better,” Wild says. “Do they just off work? What think about the future.” are they going to do Spending time with when they go back to animals has many benefits. work?” Hosegood says. Studies show dogs help “[The dogs] will not be people reduce stress and adopted out with anyone lower blood pressure. we feel are only wanting According to Millington, a dog due to lockdown.” Maple is a great distraction The Millingtons have during these uncertain already arranged for times. “She’s cuddly, that’s a dog walker to take nice,” says Millington. care of Maple when the Because of these benefits, couple resumes working it is unsurprising people and travelling. are eager to adopt during But assistance from lockdown, Wild says. Still, dog walkers and sitters she worries people want adds to the already pets for the wrong reasons. high cost of raising “I’ve noticed people have a dog. According to got a puppy because they UK veterinary charity want the comfort, they want People’s Dispensary for the validation,” says Wild. Sick Animals (PDSA), it But adopting an animal costs between £4,500 to is a huge responsibility. £13,000 to look after a Lockdown or not, pet dog over its lifetime, not owners must be in it including the additional for the long-haul. costs of potential Maple was adopted from London rescue centre All Dogs Matter a week before London’s lockdown began.
With rising unemployment rates and the economic impact of the pandemic, shelters worry that new dogs may be abandoned or returned post-lockdown.
Image: Molly Millington
Image: Richard R. Schünemann/Unsplash
Struggling Under the Weight of Lockdown
With gyms closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, people have found creative ways to workout from home — but what will happen to UK leisure centres?
By ALICE CROSSLEY
few months ago, Izzy Patrick was working as a personal trainer at a gym in east London. Now, she spends her mornings filling shopping bags with tin cans to create makeshift weights for Zoom workout classes where family, friends, and previous clients join her for a daily sweat. Over the last few months of lockdown,
fitness has become an increasingly cherished part of daily lives and, like Patrick, many people are searching for creative ways to workout; gyms and leisure centres are not expected to reopen till August in the UK. Whilst Patrick enjoys running virtual classes, she’s anxious for the fitness industry. “The reality is once they stop the furlough scheme, a lot of gyms are going to go out of
business,” she says. Patrick worries about the effect of long-term closures on people’s mental health. “Not everyone’s mental health can be helped by a jog. I don’t run, I don’t do much cardio, but I do weightlift and I know a lot of people would feel hard done by if gyms didn’t open up again till October,” she says. The UK has the second highest number
Image: Bruce Mars/Unsplash
of fitness club members in Europe. Leisure centres, in particular, provide socialisation, rehabilitation, and childcare in addition to fitness services. Yet, Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, published in May, barely mentions them. The document states: “reopening indoor public spaces and leisure facilities (such as gyms and cinemas) …may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections,” giving no guidance as to how the government will assist the fitness and wellbeing sector in the meantime. Mother-of-two Ann-Marie Corvin describes her local leisure centre as “the town square” of Stoke Newington, north London. “It was a big part of our lives;
you only realise that when you don’t have access to it,” she says. “I’ve always used it for swimming, my partner uses the gym, and when we had kids, I did maternity yoga, “toddlers world” play sessions, and we taught them to swim there.” The not-for-profit fitness industry association UK Active reports swimming as the most popular activity at leisure centres, making up for 30 per cent of visits for people between the ages of 65 and 74. “Everyone’s doing their best in terms of providing their services via video call but it’s not the same and it can’t replace getting into a swimming pool,” says Dawn Tuckwell, a UK Active board member. “The government needs to be putting more and more focus on helping them. If the leisure centres are paying the same overheads with a reduced number of people through the door, that’s not feasible and we will lose them,” she says, “I think it comes
Image: Geert Pieters/Unsplash
Image: Danielle Cerullo/Unsplash
down to the government realising how important these places are.” For 54-year-old Carole Clack, her local leisure centre helped her drop from a UK size 18 to size 10 and overcome depression after losing her mother, father, and son in the same year. Her physician referred her to BETTER, a leisure centre chain with locations across the UK, for a free threemonth membership aimed at helping people lose weight. “Every Tuesday you’d have a nutritional talk and an hour in the gym as part of a group,” she says. The scheme was a lifeline for Clack and although she is still working out at home, she misses the gym. “I live in a one-bedroom flat with no outdoor space, so it means now I have to go out to exercise,” she says, “the gym gave me a chance to socialise as well as exercising for an hour or two every day.” It is people like Clack that UK Active are fighting to protect leisure centres for. “They play such a significant role in communities; elderly people coming in for their classes, kids for swimming lessons, and just socialising,” says Tuckwell, “it’s more important than ever to be moving and exercising; I worry about the people who are dependent on these spaces because it is often the only time they have to meet people and get outside.”
Homeless in a Hockey Rink
In the middle of the arena, the ice rink has temporarily been transformed with small cubicles containing beds for homeless men. Image: Anne-Marie Provost
A Montreal sports arena has been turned into a homeless shelter as the city finds new ways to help the homeless in the face of COVID-19 By ANNE-MARIE PROVOST
Image: Anne-Marie Provost
t is 4.45pm and outside the entrance of Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal dozens of homeless people are waiting to go in. They speak loudly in small groups.
Suddenly, five speeding police cars arrive, with their lights on. They stop abruptly. The police officers walk quickly towards two security guards patrolling the Olympic Park, a big sports complex that includes the arena, which is usually used by hockey players, figure and speed skaters. The guards had called the city police shortly before. “What’s happening?” asks one of the police officers, looking concerned. The security guard who had called points to the groups of homeless, while they are Women have their own hallway with rooms they share. It is forbidden to close the door. explaining
gathering illegally under new COVID-19 rules. The police officer’s face suddenly breaks into a wide smile. He looks more relaxed. “Where have you been in the last
“It’s by far the best shelter I have been in” two weeks?” he replies. “This is where they live. This is their home.” The security guard looks uncomfortable. After joking with the homeless people, the police officers leave. Every afternoon, between 1pm and 5pm, the arena is closed and disinfected.
Image: Anne-Marie Provost
The facility has been temporarily transformed into a homeless shelter due to the coronavirus crisis. Almost every night, the 78-bed centre is full. “I really like this place. This is always clean, and very calm,” says 55-year-old Bruno Ricard. “It is by far the best shelter I have been in.” A piece of paper with the number 48 hangs on a lanyard around his neck: this is Ricard’s bed number. Pierre, who has also been sleeping in the converted arena, agrees. “We don’t have to leave too early in the morning,” he says, referring to shelters where he needs to leave sometimes as early as 6.30 am. Inside there is food, showers, social workers and nurses who visit twice a week. The hockey players’ changing rooms, located in hallways around the ice rink, are equipped with camp beds for couples and women. “It’s not usual that couples are permitted in a shelter. It is a new way of thinking,” says Hugues Guillaume, a supervisor at the arena from the Old Brewery Mission, an organisation that manages a shelter and provides help to homeless individuals. The 2,600 square metres skating rink surrounded by 4,500 seats has also been
Remi Fleurent, 70, regularly comes to the homeless shelter in the Maurice-Richard Arena.
Remi Fleurent, 70, regularly comes to the homeless shelter in the Maurice-Richard Arena.
Image: Anne-Marie Provost
transformed. On the concrete floor under the 30-metre high ceiling, dozens of beds for men are separated by small walls in cubicles. “Two shelters in the borough were quarantined, which led to their closure,” explains Pierre LessardBlais, mayor of Mercier-HochelagaMaisonneuve Montreal’s borough. He is the one behind the initiative to open the shelter in MauriceRichard Arena. Montreal created 12 extra temporary shelters as the city’s established shelters became insufficient in the face of COVID-19. Under the new social distancing rules, the shelters are required to operate at only 50 per cent capacity. A review will be necessary after the pandemic. “We are seeing things right now that can be inspiring for the future,” says mayor Lessard-Blais. “After this crisis, we won’t be the same.” A city media relations officer said that following the initial recovery phase, Montreal will evaluate how things went. All the temporary centres are wet Bruno Richard, 55 years old, eating food and sitting in the arena entrance. shelters, meaning that homeless
people can come in intoxicated, which is an unusual practice in the city. Users were also allowed until recently to leave their belongings in the shelter when they went out, another deviation from standard shelter practice.
“We are seeing things right now that can be inspiring for the future” At the beginning of the crisis, the city rented a few hotels for suspected cases and at-risk people. But now, most of the shelters are in sports’ facilities. Hugues Guillaume, the arena supervisor, thinks this is a better solution than hotels: “It’s harder in a hotel in terms of resources. And the hallways, the lifts and the rooms are not ideal.” Still, it is expensive to run these shelters. “It costs the city hundreds of thousands per week,” says mayor Lessard-Blais. And, in the meantime, speed skating athletes are asking when they will be able to use their arena to train again.
h as pl
hile most of us look forward to resetting our lives after lockdown, for those in hospice care, life after the pandemic is not guaranteed. Lora Wooster, volunteer coordinator and social worker at Hospice of the South Shore in Rockland, Massachusetts, explains that due to COVID-19, people receiving hospice care are living out their final days away from family, friends and the comfort of their own homes. Wooster recalls a patient enrolled in Hospice of the South Shore — a dying woman who lived alone in her home in Massachusetts. She lived near her sons, none of whom could visit during the global pandemic for her health and their own. Recently, she became symptomatic for COVID-19 and went to the hospital. Although her tests came back negative, she was still relocated to a hospice house for further care during the lockdown. Wooster notes that for most patients “as they get sicker, a family member will move in with them or if the family can afford it, they’ll bring in private paid caregivers.” But now, amid the pandemic, finding caregivers becomes difficult. Hospice of the South Shore has experienced almost no volunteering, a high number of deaths, and an increased need for bereavement support. Hospice care is meant to support those
in the final stages of a terminal illness; the Hospice Foundation of America specifies that to qualify for hospice care a patient must receive a physician’s prognosis that they have six months or less to live. Between 2009 to 2017, more than one million patients were enrolled in hospice care annually, according to Statista. Hospice providers like Hospice of the South Shore can provide care to patients at their own homes, in a nursing home, or in hospice houses. Wooster says Hospice of the South Shore usually loses “500 to 700 people a year.” But during the pandemic, she says, “we have a lot of patients who are dying quite quickly because of COVID.” Beyond the death rates, Wooster said that up to one third of patients with the care agency have unenrolled from their programme and chosen to no longer receive at-home care, in order to decrease foot traffic in their household. After retiring, Marcia Bober and her husband both began volunteering in hospice care; the couple often bring their dog with them when visiting patients. Bober was volunteering with Hospice of the South Shore, but during the pandemic she has suspended her volunteer efforts, along with many of the other volunteers. She said that before the pandemic, “when we have a volunteer meeting, everybody goes around the table and says something about their patient and you can see the love that
By CHRISTINA SMITH
Due to COVID-19, many people with terminal illnesses will spend their final days in lockdown, away from friends and family
Lost Before the Reset
they have for these people.” The U.S. government classifies hospice care as essential during this pandemic. According to the Hospice Foundation of America, one of the essential hospice workers is a chaplain. Chaplain support is a service offered to all patients, regardless of their religion. Due to fears of the virus, Woosters says people are hesitant to receive visits from chaplains. Before the pandemic, she says, “maybe two-thirds to three-quarters of our patients would accept chaplain services. Now it’s much less.” Drew Hanson is a pastor at the First Presbyterian Church Quincy in Massachusetts. While not a hospice chaplain himself, he says, “I think that Christian spirituality, and our faith, can provide a framing to make that time [of death] special, beautiful, and meaningful, but I’m sure that would be so much harder without someone being able to walk with you in that.” Hanson recalled a woman from his congregation who passed away just before the pandemic. He organised a lunch with her husband, who had not only lost his wife, but, as Hanson notes, “his best friend.” Due to COVID-19, that lunch has had to be rescheduled until after the lockdown. With a higher number of deaths, there is an increased strain on grief support. Wooster explains the aid families need following the death of their loved one is more often categorised now as “moderate rather than low,” and that this is “directly related to COVID.” The hospice community extends beyond the patients to include their loved ones. While settling into a life after lockdown, there is sure to be a lot of grief, mourning and postponed celebrations of life for those lost during the pandemic.
Medical Staff Struggle in Post-COVID China
Few patients waiting in the reception of Qian’s hospital post-COVID, with a slogan written on chairs “BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. ONE METER AWAY”. Image: Yi Pan
While medics on the frontlines are granted hero-status, non-COVID related doctors face pay cuts and potential job losses
By YI PAN
octors were lauded as heroes in China during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. But physicians working in nonCOVID related fields are facing reduced incomes and even potential job losses. These doctors have seen their pay packets shrink because their departments closed during the pandemic and of the structure of medical staff pay in China. “After deductions of national insurance and tax, little money remains,” says Dr Qian, an orthopaedist who has worked in top public hospitals in the affluent province of Jiangsu for 10 years. Because of the lack of patients, doctors like Dr Qian only received their basic salaries, which comprise just 20 per cent of their regular income and ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 yuan (£172 - £345) a month - far below Jiangsu’s average monthly salary of 7,000 yuan (£800). Chinese public hospital doctors’ incomes are derived primarily from government issued performance-based bonuses, an issue when doctors cannot “perform” their job during the pandemic. “Only COVID-related medics can get an extra financial reward from the government. But there aren’t many coronavirus cases here,” says Dr Qian. According to China’s National Health Commission (NHC), the daily allowances for COVID-related medics rangesare from 200 to 600 yuan (£23 - £68). Even with subsidies, most of them still earn less than
the average salary in Jiangsu. Unlike what we imagine from a socialist country, China’s public hospitals are market-driven. They used to rely on selling medications, medical tests, and equipment to bring in revenue. However, this led to overprescriptions and reduced public trust in hospitals.
“I am more worried about being unemployed than underpaid” The government subsequently issued “zero drug make-ups” and “performancebased bonus” policies as part of its 2009 healthcare reform. As a result, doctors’ incomes became largely dependent on the number of patients treated rather than the quantities or value of medicine prescribed. The government also increased subsidies to the healthcare system. However, according to a 2015 study from Southern Medical University, government subsidies remain below 8 per cent of hospitals’ total revenue in the city of Guangzhou. Public hospitals are losing money with the added costs of disinfection and the steep drop in hospital visits. GZ Asclepius Healthcare, an independent research
organization on China’s hospitals, surveyed 316 hospitals across the country in March and found that half of the hospitals will not last more than two months if the situation continues. “I’m more worried about being unemployed than underpaid [if the hospital closes],” says Dr Qian. Dr Qian’s fears are not unfounded.A 63-year-old patient in Jiangsu, who only wanted to be identified as Ms Cai, was scheduled to have gallstone surgery in January but the COVID-19 pandemic scared her off. In May, with few new cases reported, schools, museums, and cinemas reopened. But for Cai, visiting the hospital seems scarier than dealing with a painful cyst. Many patients around the country are in the same situation. Data from the NHC shows a 26 per cent drop in hospital visits in the first two months of this year compared to last year. “Even if patients change their minds [about coming to hospitals], we are still wary of accepting them to avoid hospitalacquired infections. The epidemic has hit public hospitals so hard, but it is still difficult to get financial subsidies from the government,” says Wong, a hospital administrator in Jiangsu. Dr Qian cautions, “It is very dangerous when medical staff are continuously being underpaid and overworked, doctors may have to either leave public hospitals [or] think of ‘other ways’ to make money.”
Woman biking in Paris, France. Image: Dewang Gupta/Unsplash.
ON THE ROAD: France, a Bicycle Country
With people turning away from public transit, COVID-19 might be the final push to make France bicycle-friendly by AURORE HEUGAS
he French government announced on 29 April that it was putting down €60m (£57.7m) to help people transition to cycling — tripling its initial budget for the plan.
“Unlike what many might think, French people are ready to take their bikes, they have been for a while,” says Olivier Schneider, president of the French Federation for Bicycle Users (FUB). “They are ready to
change their commuting habits, they were just waiting for politicians to get on board and actually make the move to approve those changes.” France’s lockdown ended 11 May, giving
Cycles lined up in Colmar, France. Image: Awasthy N/Unsplash.
citizens the opportunity to roam as they wished again. This has made commuting a fresh issue. Citizens are turning away from public transportation because of coronavirus fears and choosing to drive instead. This has added to problems with road congestion and air pollution. In a March survey by the association 40 million d’automobilistes, 82.3 per cent of respondents have preferred driving their cars over any other form of public transport since the beginning of the crisis. The French government has responded by quickly putting a bicycle plan into action. “We want this period to be a step forward in cycling culture”, Elisabeth Borne, French Minister of Ecology, told French newspaper and website Le Parisien. The government’s plan includes a €50 repair budget for people with used bikes and are prepared to regularly cycle to work. All they need to show is some form of identification and a telephone number. Almost 80,000 bikes have been repaired so far. The plan also includes free classes to help people become comfortable with commuting by bike and temporary parking spaces for cyclists. Since mid-April, several regions of France have put hundreds of millions of euros to-
wards the initiative. Major cities like Paris, Nice, Lyon, and Lille have put in place temporary infrastructures until permanent ones are built. Paris is replicating its busiest subway lines above ground as bike paths and
“We have been advocating for those changes for years... With this virus, there have never been fewer obstacles.” creating new parking spaces for bikes. More than 1000km of bike paths are planned throughout the country, according to FUB President Schneider. The main reason for these changes are fears of being infected with coronavirus while using public transport. But are these fears valid? Dr Martin Blachier, public health doctor formerly at the French Ministry of Health, explains how the French case may be different.
“There are numbers for New York showing that public transport is responsible for a big part of the virus’ circulation. However, when we studied the French case we haven’t been able to conclude that this is the case as well. There are actually studies showing that taking the train plays less of a part in infection than going to a party with 25 people in one room for a few hours”. The real coronavirus-related benefits of transitioning to cycling lie in the potential general health improvements. “Big cities have the problem of higher numbers of COVID-19 but also the problem of people with sedentary lifestyles. That issue is major because people don’t exercise, which can lead to cardiovascular issues,” says Dr Blachier. The virus has been shown to have the highest mortality rate among those with cardiovascular issues. The French plan to turn the country into a bicycle-friendly one is motivated by the need for people to be able to commute without fear. This plan not only lowers risks of transmission of the virus, but contributes to alleviating the climate crisis. French bicycle associations have been pushing for greener, bicycle-friendly, cities for years. COVID-19 was the last push they needed to make it happen.
Mariaberget, Stockholm, Sweden. Image: Raphael Andres/Unsplash.
No Lockdown, No Problem: The Pandemic in Sweden While the rest of Europe entered lockdown, Sweden remained open
By RORY JONES
n Scandinavian culture, Walpurgis Night is an unmissable annual event. Traditionally a night of blazing bonfires, impromptu gatherings, and packed crowds, it was a rather different affair this year. In an attempt to prevent any large student gatherings, the local council dumped a tonne of chicken manure into the central park in Lund, a small town in southern Sweden. This exemplifies Sweden’s atypical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the rest of Europe, Sweden
has adopted a different approach to social distancing, following the advice of its state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. Although universities are closed and large social gatherings banned, the government did not enforce a strict lockdown, and still allows smaller gatherings of up to 50 people. In Tegnell’s own words, citizens must carry “individual responsibility” and practice social distancing on their own terms to prevent the spread of the virus. This approach has been labelled as “reckless” by some foreign media outlets. Less than an hour’s drive from Lund,
Anders Tegnell. Image: Frankie Fouganthin/ Wiki Commons
Community accepted the unorthodox policy, this has not been the case for everyone, as Sweden’s strategy was met with a polarised response from other international students: “Some friends have left Sweden to go back to their home countries due to fear of being infected under a lax government approach”, Coppel says. “On my side, I do not feel anxious at all. I still go to the bars that are open in Lund, work on my thesis at the university library,
“I still go to the bars that are open in Lund, work at the library... like I would under normal circumstances.” and continue with my daily activities like I would have done under normal circumstances.” Though some have argued that, unlike the lockdowns we have seen across the world, epidemiologist Tegnell’s strategy is more sustainable, and perhaps even misunderstood, in April, Sweden recorded its deadliest month in 30 years. More recently, in the first week of June, Sweden had the highest numbers of deaths per capita in the world, according to research from Our World in Data. In a recent interview on Swedish public radio, Tegnell said, “there is quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done,” acknowledging that too many
people in Sweden died too soon. Despite these numbers, Sweden’s decision may allow them to avoid some of the social and economic effects of a strict Image: Wiki Commons
Denmark’s capital Copenhagen is starting to reopen following a lockdown that has been in place since 11 March. At the time of writing, Sweden has had more than 40,000 cases and 4,600 deaths; Denmark, however, has only reported 589 deaths and just under 12,000 cases, although its population is around half the size of Sweden’s. Despite these figures, many students remain unperturbed by Sweden’s strategy. “The guidelines from Tegnell are taken rather seriously from what I have experienced”, says Filippa Möller, a Swedish student at Lund University. “I, and probably most people I’ve been speaking to, have faith in the social distancing measures and the decision to not have a lockdown, she says. I do believe that more and more people agree with the decisions as time goes by.” Home to 40,000 students in total, international students make up a fifth of Lund’s student population. Australian student Thomas Coppel has had a mixed reaction to the government’s unorthodox approach: “I was initially surprised that Sweden didn’t enforce stricter measures considering the fact that neighbouring Denmark went into lockdown very early on. But I knew that the Swedish government expects citizens to behave in a considerate way and the Swedes generally respect this approach,” Coppel says. “Students seem to like the freedom associated with the no-lockdown policy. I know very few international students that have gone back to their home country and all my Swedish friends are still in Lund.” While some, such as Coppel, have
Sweden’s COVID-19 cases
Darker colours represent higher case numbers.
lockdown. Though Tegnell admits his strategy has flaws, many citizens support the government’s policy, and perhaps in the long-term Sweden’s response will be viewed differently.
Brunkeberg Tunnel, Stockhom, Sweden. Image: Peter Ivey-Hansen/Unsplash.
INSIDE THE CANADIAN Care Home Crisis
Is COVID-19 causing an epidemic of loneliness among the elderly?
By ANNE-MARIE PROVOST
lmost every afternoon, Céline Lapointe comes to the parking lot at Henriette-Céré, a government-run long-term care home near Montreal, Canada. She looks up to a third-floor window and waves to her 96-year-old mother. “Her phone is not working, we cannot talk,” she says. Her mother tested positive for COVID-19 one week ago. Céline Lapointe has not received much news from the care facility. “I guess it’s because everything is fine,” she says with a look of concern. Her mother asks her to come up. “I can’t come,” she shouts back. But that is not entirely true. Caregivers
like Lapointe are allowed to enter to see their loved ones once granted permission, which she was a week ago. But she is too afraid - many residents at Henriette-Céré have tested positive. “I’m too scared to catch the virus. I prefer to wait,” she says. Almost every door in the facility has a small red poster warning, “RED ZONE.” By the end of May, 85 per cent of residents had contracted the virus and 80 per cent of regular staff was absent because they either tested positive or quit. While we talk, two men wearing white suits and face shields, covering them from head to toe, come out. They are mortuary workers who have come to pick up another
body. Céline hides her anxiety and mutters a greeting as they put the stretcher into their van. I started working at Henriette-Céré because of the provincial government’s need to fill the massive staff shortages in the health system during the coronavirus crisis. I now see these men, in their astronaut suits, almost every day that I work. They walk in and everyone stops to watch them pick up the pandemic’s next victim. Out of the care homes’ 105 residents, 31 had died by the end of May. My colleagues and I take the time to talk with residents and keep them company. Most days we are the only human contact they have.
Image: Anne-Marie Provosot
Sometimes residents - bored, restless, and confined to their rooms - get angry and yell at us. Some rooms have small doors installed to prevent them from going out and possibly spreading the virus. “Why are you putting me in jail?” an older woman, who tested positive for COVID-19, often asks me. I know she is right but everytime I justify it by saying it is to prevent her from wandering and infecting people. In March, outside visitors were banned from all long-term care homes and hospitals in Quebec, the worst-hit province in Canada. The region recorded 60 per cent of the country’s coronavirus deaths at the end of May. “Asymptomatic workers infected residents, sadly,” says Jean Mercier, president of the union representing 4,200 employees in the region. “The first cases appeared three weeks after they banned visitors.” Lonely residents idle their days away. Some lie in their beds or sit in chairs staring at nothing all day. Others watch TV or listen to the radio. Céline Lapointe’s mother often does puzzles, sometimes falling asleep with her head on the desk in front of a window. Thérèse Gendron, who has been living in the care home for seven years, explains that all activities have been cancelled in the last two months. “Time is very, very long,” she says. Her last full bath was in March because of the excessive time required to disinfect the room after every use and the potential contamination when getting to the bathrooms. Sometimes, residents are able to speak with loved ones via FaceTime on an iPad
“Why are you putting me in jail?”
Healthcare workers at Henriette-Céré.
wrapped in a transparent plastic bag. But it is not the same. “It’s half-working. It’s more complicated for people who don’t have their full cognitive capacity,” points out Mélanie Perroux, spokesperson at the Quebec Caregivers Network, which represents 22,000 caregivers across the province. Since 11 May, it is easier to enter seniors’ residences. Each facility has its own protocols. “Some facilities are very restrictive. Caregivers cannot do what they were doing before,” says Mélanie Perroux. “In some cases, we are allowed to come inside only 30 minutes a week.” Other facilities are more organized. Even visitors that are not caregivers can access a visiting room with plexiglass installed to separate everyone. At Henriette-Céré around ten caregivers are allowed in without restrictions, says Isabelle Caron, administrator in charge. Training is mandatory on how to wear personal protective equipment properly. Medical gowns and face protections are provided by the care home and must be worn all the time. However, demands for mandatory tests are emerging. The government is not compelling family members to get tested before visiting. “I’m afraid they may bring COVID-19 inside,” says Jean Mercier. “They need to be tested. That is nonsense. I don’t understand the government position.” Caregivers also think they should get tested. “Since the beginning, we should have allowed caregivers to keep coming in by testing them and attributing them time slots,” says Mélanie Perroux. She hopes caregivers will continue being allowed inside if a second wave of the infections hits. “It is distressing,” she says, “caregivers provide emotional, affective support.”
A red sign at care centre. Image: Anne-Marie Provosot
Care Homes Should be Places to Live, Not Just Die Image: Pngguru
The high number of COVID-19 deaths in care homes has revealed a need to change how we view the elderly
By CRISTINA CARRASCO
housands of elderly people have died from COVID-19 while living in care homes. These people are not just numbers. They are parents and grandparents who have passed during this pandemic, often alone. How did we get here? How do we change? And, above all, are we willing to? Experts believe the root of the problem behind the high rates of care home deaths was evident before COVID-19. In a 2018 report the European Commission warned about the precarious situation in the care sector. The study notes that across countries the division of responsibilities causes a lack of integration between health and social care for the elderly. The report also reveals that poor working conditions and job precariousness detracts people from working in the care sector. Age UK, a non-profit organisation that provides elderly care, has long been criticising the limited financial resources, the significant challenges care workers face, and the increasingly complex
needs of the population. In a call for action last April the organisation said, “Even before the coronavirus crisis hit, there were big worries about financial resilience and the capacity to deliver consistently good care across the care home sector.”
“We must not leave anyone behind” Photo: Unsplash.
The pandemic only intensified these problems that led to the immense human tragedy of the past few months. More than 50 per cent of coronavirus-related deaths in Europe happened in care homes, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In some cases, according to Age UK, care workers’ jobs have been reduced to providing end of life care without sufficient support. Workers are often unable to admit patients to the hospital because hospitals consider the medical care already available at care home facilities when prioritising which patients to take in. As weeks passed, governments focused on containment plans to minimise spread of the virus and resulting deaths in care homes. Meanwhile, a debate emerged. The idea that there is a need to change how our culture looks at the elderly has taken root. Discussions have included the need for new models of care homes and financing to adopt such changes. International organisations like WHO have begun openly supporting the need to
More than 50 per cent of Coronavirus-related deaths in Europe happened in care homes, according to the WHO. Photo/ Unsplash Residences should feel like homes and not hospitals, experts say. Image;: Unsplash.
change our mentality towards the elderly. “We must care for them. It is our duty to leave no one behind,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, in an April statement calling for the construction of sustainable, peoplecentred long-term care homes in the wake of the pandemic. Thousands of people, including prominent European personalities from politics, economics, journalism, and the arts, have signed an appeal urgently calling for a radical change in our mentality towards the elderly. “We have committed a capital sin: pride,” says Lourdes Bermejo, vice president of the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG). In her opinion, “We need to change the way we see the elderly immediately. We should offer them a life with possibilities and goals.” Mayte Sancho, an expert in gerontological planning, stresses the need to actively fight stereotypes, which can lead to issues like the infantilisation of older people and subsequent abuse. “We must impose
equal treatment; they are citizens and have rights,” she says. In the last few months, studies reviewing the model of care homes have resurfaced. One of the more recent reports by The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Australia talks about the importance of community-based,
“They are citizens, and have rights” intergenerational models of care homes. Another study by the Center for Ageing Research in the Environment (CARE) in Singapore, similarly argues care homes should be focused on the community with individual treatment. According to experts, it is too early to know how these studies will impact current care home residential structures. But they agree there is an urgent need for change. “We need to put an end to the largescale care home model and focus on a person-based and community-centred
model,” says Heitor Lanzarón, an architect specialising in elderly care. He adds that we should focus on modifying existing care homes and avoid the use of residences conceived as hospitals. However, funding is required to carry out these cultural and structural reforms. This is difficult to attain because, according to elderly rights advocate, Lourdes Bermejo, these reforms clash with European social attitudes towards the elderly. “Many see them as vulnerable people who do not make a contribution to society and therefore do not deserve our financial effort,” she says. Bermejo maintains that we will not be able to implement these reforms if we do not shift our perspective, beginning with changes to young people’s educational curriculum and the language of our political rhetoric. Experts agree that becoming aware of this need for change is the first step. Bermejo concludes, “Care homes have to be places where you live and not [just] where you die.”
Grief in Isolation
After Canada’s deadliest mass shooting, Nova Scotians are left to confront their grief at home—and online
By ZOE BELL
ortapique, a tiny rural community in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, is the last place anyone would expect Canada’s deadliest mass shooting to take place – let alone during a global pandemic. But on 18 April, a gunman disguised as a police officer began a 12-hour killing spree, taking the lives of 22 people. Nova Scotia, Canada’s second-smallest province by area, has a population of just under one million people. Portapique is
home to 100 year-round residents. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, this tightknit community was left wondering how to express their grief in isolation. The day after the shooting, Colchester County local Tiff Ward, along with other community members, launched the Facebook group, “Colchester – Supporting our Communities.” In Canada, prohibitions on large gatherings and social distancing measures have made it nearly impossible
A memorial in honour of the shooting victims, including RCMP Constable Heidi. Credit: RCMP, Nova Scotia.
to hold funerals or vigils. The community Facebook page became a place where Nova Scotians could express their grief online. On 24 April, the page’s virtual vigil – entitled “Nova Scotia Remembers” – was streamed on Facebook, YouTube, and on TV stations across the province. “[The shooting] was the worst possible thing that could have happened,” says Ward, “but it was really great to see the rest of our country come together and share in our grief, and to help us support the families that are at the centre of this tragedy. Because that was the whole idea, to communicate to the families that we were there, even though they couldn’t see us.” The virtual vigil featured performances from prominent Nova Scotian musicians, including renowned fiddler Natalie MacMaster. On a split screen, MacMaster played alongside a video of 17-year-old shooting victim Emily Tuck playing the fiddle, recorded just weeks before she died. Kelly MacArthur, who hails from Cape Breton, NS, explains that in times of crisis, Nova Scotians often turn to music and dance. “I think it’s all we know how to do,” she says. MacArthur teaches Highland dancing, a Scottish tradition that is popular in Nova
The names of the shooting victims, along with the hashtag, #NovaScotiaStrong, arranged in the shape of the province.. Credit: Elise Goodhoofd
Scotia. Though social distancing measures made it difficult to join together in person, MacArthur and her dance team created a tribute video to the victims’ families, which she shared with the Colchester Facebook page. “To have the biggest tragedy happen in your tiny province during a time where you’re locked in your house – it almost feels like it didn’t really happen,” explains MacArthur. “It’s a very surreal feeling, and it’s definitely touched everybody.” Barely a week after the mass shooting, the province suffered another loss on 29 April when 23-year old Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a marine system engineering officer from Nova Scotia, was killed in a Nato helicopter crash off the coast of Greece. Then, on 17 May, a Canadian Forces Snowbird plane crashed in Kamloops, B.C., killing another Nova Scotian, Captain Jenn Casey. The Snowbirds, an air show demonstration team, were on a crosscountry flyover tour to raise spirits amid COVID-19. Dealing with so much loss during a global crisis presents challenges to the grieving process, according to Nova Scotia Health Authority bereavement, grief and wellness coordinator Serena Lewis.
“People are becoming saturated with grief,” explains Lewis, who lives near Portapique and knew several of the shooting victims. Though NS Health Authority currently provides counselling services via phone or video-calling, Lewis believes the province needs greater long-term grief support. “Because our communities are going to be grieving for a long time,” she says.
In times of crisis, Nova Scotians often turn to music and dance Lewis has joined the Canadian Grief Alliance, a coalition of experts asking all levels of government to create better services for grief across the country—including better support for workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, and more resources for people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. “I often think that grief really thrusts us into change,” says Lewis. She believes
dealing with loss on such a large scale will require people across Nova Scotia, and the world more generally, to change the way we communicate about grief. “We’re not good at talking about death,” says Lewis. “And I think we really have to tend to that.” “When it’s mentionable, it’s manageable,” she says. “But we can’t move anywhere when we stay in silence.” More than a month since the shooting in Portapique, Tiff Ward and the “Colchester – Supporting our Communities” group are preparing to move forward. The group is launching a non-profit called the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society: an organisation aiming to support education for the victims’ children, champion for longterm grief and mental health support, and create a permanent memorial. Ward hopes the group’s efforts will help the community feel whole again. “I like to say, five years from now, I want the Wikipedia page to have what happened here at the very last paragraph, rather than the first one,” says Ward. “[The shooting] should be the last thing we know about Portapique. It has to be mentioned, it has to be noted, but it should never be a defining moment in our history.”
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The Reset team would like to thank Malvin Van Gelderen for his patience, anecdotes, telling us to put Adobe InDesign on our CVs, and endless knowledge. To our fearless leader, Yuen Chan, well... thank you for every single thing, even the things we at first complained about and can no longer remember. And finally, we’d all like to thank the creators of Zoom, without whom this virtual term would not have been possible. To our fellow classmates of MAIJ 2020, there’s no one we would have rather pandemic-ed, protested, and University of Zoomed with. In the words of the wise sage Larry David, it was “pretty pretty pretty good.”
Welcome to Reset Magazine, an online publication which questions the idea of ‘normal’ as it lived and breathed before the pandemic.
Published on Jun 13, 2020
Welcome to Reset Magazine, an online publication which questions the idea of ‘normal’ as it lived and breathed before the pandemic.