New priorities, Big Brother weirdness and Covid-19 in Westminster

Planet Business: There’s only one story

A woman crosses the millennium bridge in front of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral wearing a facemask  on Monday. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty

A woman crosses the millennium bridge in front of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral wearing a facemask on Monday. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty

 

Image of the week: Unprotected

In London, a woman crosses the bridge in front of St Paul’s Cathedral wearing a facemask and gloves and checking her phone, but the feeling on Monday, when this picture was taken, was that the facts of coronavirus hadn’t yet sunk in across Britain. London was singled out by prime minister Boris Johnson in his vague address as the place in the UK where the virus was spreading most rapidly, and where a greater degree of social distancing should maybe-probably apply. And yet where does the city begin and end? Meanwhile, members of parliament continued to squeeze into the House of Commons even after one of the UK government’s own Covid-19 experts, Neil Ferguson, tweeted on Wednesday that he was self-isolating after becoming symptomatic. “There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster,” he said.

In numbers: Blank screens

50%

Decline in box office takings across Ireland and Britain between last Friday and Sunday, compared to the previous weekend, according to Screen Daily.

120

Odeon cinemas in Ireland and Britain have since shut down for the duration... in other words, all of them.

100

Cineworld cinemas in Ireland and Britain that have also now closed. Cineworld had been reeling financially even before social distancing and self-isolation kicked in.

Getting to know: Germany’s Big Brother cast

In a development that will seem weirdly familiar to viewers of Charlie Brooker’s drama Dead Set (where the inhabitants of a Big Brother house are the last to find out about a worldwide zombie apocalypse), most of the current German cast of Big Brother were, up until Tuesday, completely oblivious to the coronavirus crisis (“Corona-Krise”) or anything else that has happened since they entered the show back in January. It may be of little comfort to them that they have now obtained a collective notoriety they never normally would have acquired by merely going on television. Enter German broadcaster Sat.1’s live special, in which the whole unreality was explained to the contestants at length by two men who sat behind a glass screen and played some videos summing up the new health threat and subsequent reorganisation of society. The shock and confusion was palpable.

The list: Very important things

Look, even if most of us were aware of the value of these activities, and the people who do them, it’s fair to say that awareness has now spiked. (Note: the list is not exhaustive.)

1 Epidemiology. A case in point: Sligo, Mayo and Galway are all now trying to “claim” the executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, Dr Mike Ryan (who was born in Sligo, raised in Mayo, and educated in Galway and Dublin).

2 Deep cleaning. The new standard of cleaning everywhere.

3 Delivery services. The saviour of anybody in self-isolation and anybody who now cannot get to the supermarket, where staff have found themselves on a front line of their own.

4 3D Printing. Some of us are old enough to remember when 3D printing was about making shoes. These days, the technology is being used to manufacture emergency valves for ventilators.

5 Broadband and media. More vital than ever to strike that balance between information and sanity. Oh, and for home working too.

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