May 29, 2020
Welcome to our Weekly Update covering the big headlines across the consumer and trade titles as well as what’s trending on social media. In addition, we have provided an overview of key news stories from across the various practices at FINN Partners inclusive of insights and headlines from the world of tech, arts, entertainment, food, healthcare, retail, sports and more. We hope you find it useful.
The news this week has focused on new updates regarding lockdown restrictions easing and the possibility of family reunions for the w/c 1 st June The news has been dominated by the story of Dominic Cummings and the reactions of both the public and political parties With travel updates high on the agenda, there have been many stories covering the logistics and requirements for the 14 day quarantine and the possibility of air bridges and bubbles. Read more...
Global Sector Updates
Travel and Tourism
- As one of the measures to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, easyJet has announced that it might reduce its workforce by around 30%, a figure that equals 4,500 jobs according to BBC. The airline's announcement has sparked an angry reaction from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) who termed the move as an ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.
- However, easyJet’s CEO said, “We realize that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long-term. We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before so that easyJet can thrive in the future.”
- According to Reuters, Zurich Airport plans to launch cleaning robots, face mask vending machines, and extra room for passengers to queue when boarding flights as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19 when it resumes its operations.
- Museums and art galleries in Seoul shut down again as the city sees a second wave of coronavirus cases. Previously, praised for its exemplary response to the crisis, South Korea has reported the high number of new COVID-19 infections it has seen in the past seven weeks. In response, officials have re-implemented shutdown measures in the metropolitan area of Seoul, where 67 of the 79 new reported cases are located.
- The Post-Covid era looks bleak for galleries and museums and directors warn that social-distancing rules will weigh heavily on visitor numbers. More than half of UK museum directors are concerned that their institutions will not be viable in the wake of the coronavirus crisis as social-distancing protocols threaten to hurt visitor numbers and subsequently their income. The astounding results come after a survey, conducted by the Art Fund, collected answers from 427 directors and professionals that underscored major questions about the ability for the cultural sector to survive the post-COVID era.
- Museums and art galleries in Tokyo are getting ready to resume business during stage one of city’s reopening plan. With the end of Japan’s state of emergency, museums are prepared to implement new rules and safety measures as they open their doors to visitors.
- Heritage sites that have been closed since mid-March in Dubai are preparing to begin a phased reopening on June 1. There will be a number of safety measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors including limiting the number of visitors and routine sterilizations.
- The Polish government has withdrawn two fines imposed on a group of artist who were accused of breaking social distancing rules during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Polish police issued fines for 10,000 z? each (around £2,000) to two of the ten participants. Following a massive public outcry, which included a crowd-funding campaign, city authorities made a u-turn after reviewing evidence supplied by local journalists that proved the artists had maintained the required distance.
- Artist Carrie Mae Weems is launching a new initiative to draw attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hurts African American, Latino, and Native American communities. Working with Syracuse University, where she is an artist-in-residence, Weems will unveil a series of billboards, flyers, buttons, and other public objects that promote public health measures throughout the western New York city over the next six months.
- As the Golden Globes changes rules to fit this strange awards season, Netflix shifts its approach as everyone waits for the Oscar date. While Netflix will provide sponsorship for some major festivals in 2020, it’s not planning to send any of their films or talent to attend them. The pandemic has had major impacts on post-production schedules for studios and streamers alike.
- Virtual filmmaking takes center stage in reopening Hollywood as one way to mitigate risks of being on set. As Hollywood faces mounting pressure to resume production and reemploy hundreds of thousands of cast and crew who’ve been out of work for months, filmmakers are turning to virtual producers as a route to reboot TV shows and features halted by the pandemic.
- Cineworld, the world’s second largest movie theater business, says it anticipates opening all of its cinemas in July. Cineworld operates in 10 countries with 787 sites and 9,500 screens, including the Regal chain in the U.S., and the Cineworld and Picturehouse brands in the U.K. and Ireland. Cineworld has accrued a $3.5 billion debt pile with the closing of its entire estate due to COVID-19.
- According to Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, France’s movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on June 22. French exhibitors have drafted health guidelines for welcoming moviegoers which were submitted for approval to the health minister last week.
- Disney World has announced that it would start reopening from July 11 in a phase-wise manner beginning with its Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom parks. On July 15, it would open Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. The company said that it is implementing several preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus at its parks.
- According to UNESCO monitoring, 150 countries currently have nationwide closures, impacting over 1.19 billion students. Several other countries have implemented localized school closures. These closures currently impact more than 68% of total enrolled learners. In the U.S., all states have decided to close schools. At least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools are closed, scheduled to close or were closed and later reopened, impacting at least 55.1 million of the nation’s 56.6 million students. As of right now, 48 states, 4 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year affecting approximately 50.8 million public school students.
- Florida is the only state that has yet to apply for its portion of coronavirus relief for K-12 schools through the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), leaving school districts in the dark about when they will receive their piece of the state’s $770.2 million education stimulus. U.S. Department of Education officials confirmed that all states except Florida have applied for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund dollars as of Thursday.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening guidelines for schools include recommendations that students and teachers wear face coverings and receive daily temperature checks, according to a summary of the not-yet-released state guidance.
- Today, the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations held an afternoon virtual town hall event to draw attention to how after-school and summer programs can be part of economic recovery and provide ongoing learning experiences for students. Over the past week, advocates, researchers and others stepped up efforts to emphasize the role that out-of-school-time programs play in minimizing the damage.
- A nonpartisan congressional agency has concluded that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ restrictions on coronavirus relief grants for college students are vulnerable to legal challenge because they reflect an “unpersuasive” interpretation of the law, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO. The Congressional Research Service examined, at the request of Sen. Patty Murray’s staff, DeVos’ guidance from April that excludes undocumented students and other students who are ineligible for federal student aid from receiving emergency grants under the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116).
- Schools in the UK are set to open from next week, but Chinese parents whose children study in the UK are still reluctant to send their children to school. According to Forbes, the number of Chinese students applying for the U.K.'s Tier 1 visa declined by 72% in the first three months of 2020. "I think there inevitably will be a short term drop in demand. I've been speaking to the Chinese families who still haven't made a final decision whether to come back in September as they are waiting to see how it plays out here." Said Felix Hamilton, head of consultancy at China for Keystone Tutors.
- Education funding experts have estimated that about 300,000 teachers in the United States could lose their jobs due to the decline in sales and income tax revenue, which is hurting state budgets, and, in turn, schools. As schools cannot operate with a deficit, they are preparing for massive layoffs in the upcoming financial year.
- The economy in the United States contracted by 5% during the first quarter of 2020. This contraction is 4.8% more than was expected. Despite the figures, many market experts are hopeful of a recovery. "Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC that the U.S. economy is starting to “come out of the hole.”"
- Russia is experiencing an increase in money laundering during the pandemic with individuals making suspicious money transfers out of the country in order to purchase "protective gear" and medical goods. In one instance the central bank froze $1.3 million in funds "that was supposedly to be used to buy masks at the beginning of the pandemic."
- Gasoline demand in the US has increased and the price of oil futures has increased alongside the demand. The demand for oil has "not bounced back entirely" and the markets are concerned about trade sanctions placed on China.
- Loan default rates in Brazil have risen for the fourth month in a row. Since December, the rate has been rising, and currently the default ratio is at 4%. Fernando Rocha, head of statistics at Brazil's central bank, anticipates that defaults for individuals will continue to rise over the upcoming months.
- According to the Financial Times, while panic buying left supermarket shelves without toilet paper, “many restaurants, hotels, and offices devoid of their usual visitors are flush with it.” As a result, restaurants such as the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington DC and Leon in the UK have started selling toilet paper to stay in business amid the pandemic.
- From the article, while people are buying takeaways from the Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant, they can also buy toilet paper at $2.50 a roll and are limited to two per order. Leon, a fast-food restaurant chain based in the UK, also started selling toilet paper with online orders after it realized customers are struggling to get them in supermarkets.
- New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that while 62,690 healthcare workers in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus, 294 have died from the virus. CDC also said that the number of cases and casualties is likely to be higher as only 21% of cases that have been reported to the CDC have included the information that shows the patient is a healthcare worker.
- On the other hand, National Nurses United (NNU), which is the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States, has reported a contradictory number saying that 530 healthcare workers have died from the virus. NNU used publicly available information such as obituaries to calculate the number of fatalities.
- NNU also reported that 87% of 23,000 nurses that participated in its survey said that because of PPE shortages, they have been forced to reuse single-use equipment when treating coronavirus patients while 72% said they had exposed skin or clothing.
- GSK has said that it plans to produce one billion doses of adjuvant vaccine booster for COVID-19 shots in 2021. The company has said that "it was in talks with governments on backing the program, which would allow the expansion of the scale of production of future successful vaccines for the COVID-19 disease."
- Nissan has announced that it would shut down its auto plants in Indonesia and Spain due to losses it has incurred amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company's CEO, Makoto Uchida, has said that its production in Europe will be centered at its plant in Sunderland. Manufacturing in Indonesia will move to Thailand.
- Nissan reported a loss of 671.2 billion yen for the financial year that ended in March, being its first annual loss since 2009. In April, its global production fell by 62% YOY, and global sales dropped by about 42%. It's sales for the fiscal year that ended in March fell by about 15%, to $91.6 billion.
- Charitable organizations in Texas have been working together to help the residents of their local areas. The United Way has been working alongside Meals on Wheels, Sixty and Better, and Catholic Charities to expand operations and serve more than 5,000 people a day. The need for cooperation was recognized as requests have risen almost 20% each week.
- A brief press release on PRNewsWire outlines an argument made by Messaging Architects about the likelihood of permanently smaller office spaces post-COVID-19. The article cites that the improvement in technology allows for permanent work from home employees allowing for a cut in commercial real estate costs.
- Marketwatch reports that financial advisers are being turned into grief counselors due to the coronavirus. Aside from "transferring assets to designated beneficiaries, advisers often provide emotional support to grieving loved ones."
- Germany-based Douglas Group, one of the biggest beauty retailers in Europe, has revealed that it experienced a growth in its e-commerce amid lockdowns as its online sales went up by 34% to €166 million. The surge in online sales helped to soften COVID-19 impact on the retailer.
- The retailer’s chief digital officer said that when businesses closed because of the pandemic, Douglas’ “key strategy was to ensure the conversion of offline customers into first-time online shoppers by leveraging a loyalty program and app for one-to-one marketing, as well as enabling orders by phone.”
- The retailer also implemented measures such as “free shipping, the transfer of store inventories to online, and boosting cross-border business.” From the strategies, Douglas saw an increase of new omnichannel customers in Germany by 90% and this boosted its e-commerce.
- However, 90% of Douglas stores have now reopened and their sales are already back to 80% of last year’s levels. According to Forbes, this gives hope and encouragement to other retailers who have not reopened yet.
Sports and Recreation
- The 2020 Dutch Grand Prix which was going to return to the “Formula 1 (F1) calendar for the first time since 1985” on May 3 has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was at first postponed because of the pandemic but has now been canceled as F1 would like to share its return with fans and that is currently not possible.
- On the other hand, the 2021 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games have also been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 2,000 athletes with learning disabilities would have participated in the games thus the Special Olympics GB said, “given the heightened risk to those with intellectual disabilities, postponement was the right decision.”
- Amazon won’t say how many workers have gotten COVID-19. So workers are tracking cases themselves. The aggregated numbers almost certainly understate the spread of the virus among Whole Foods and Amazon warehouse employees. Yet Amazon has challenged the notion that it should be providing fuller data. An Amazon spokesperson said the company does track the information at a site level but does not release the aggregate numbers because those numbers might contain outdated information — cases that were resolved weeks or months ago — and thus are not informative to workers.
- Covid-19 Brings a Reckoning of Layoffs to Silicon Valley Layoffs have slammed tech companies both large and small since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. The industry has cut more than 40,000 jobs so far, but this month was the cruelest yet. In a single week in early May, Uber Technologies Inc. announced it would slash 3,700 positions, Airbnb Inc. said it would cut 1,900 and Lyft Inc. fired or furloughed more than 1,000.
- COVID-19 HPC Consortium pours 437 petaflops of compute power toward virus research. This week, IBM announced that the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Swiss National Supercomputer Center (CSCS) will join the COVID-19 HPC Consortium, making available machines including the University of Edinburgh’s ARCHER; the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s DIRAC; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Earlham Institute; and Piz Daint, the sixth-ranked supercomputer in the world according to the TOP 500 supercomputing list. IBM says more than 59 projects in the U.S., Germany, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Spain, the U.K., and other countries have been matched with supercomputers from Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM, and dozens of academic and nonprofit research institutions for free.
- Google Continues to Add Features Supporting SMBs During Covid-19. Google detailed some new features aimed at helping small and midsized businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Data Loss Spikes Under COVID-19 Lockdowns. Two new reports suggest a massive gap between how organizations have prepared their cybersecurity defenses and the reality of their efficacy.
- How Inefficient Backlog Management Can Lead To Incomplete Digital Transformations. Over the last few years, digital transformation has increased applications backlog. This is becoming a serious bottleneck for digital organizations. Although CIOs have made serious attempts to groom and refine the backlog, they mostly end up addressing parts of their organization to achieve the objectives of the transformation.
- The European Union believes that 5G technology would be essential in helping the bloc recover from the impact of coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday (May 27), when proposing a €750 billion recovery package, the union said that it would accelerate EU's digital shift.