5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

An illustration of a needle and rode - The road back to normalcy

As vaccines roll out around the world, the question on everybody’s mind, is what does the journey back to “normal” look like? A new normal won’t return at the flip of a switch. We need to understand what’s happening, and we need trusted data to do that. So what should we be tracking? What metrics do we need to make effective, data-driven decisions? And, how do we know if we’re on the path to normalcy?

We recently spoke with Dr. Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, and assistant professor at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. With his help, we’ve identified five key variables that can help us measure our progress to a state resembling normalcy. In other words, when data will tell us when and how we can return to a simpler—if not quite normal—life.

1. Vaccine effectiveness

The first variable is, of course, the vaccines themselves. In our conversation, Scarpino shared two important variables regarding vaccine rollout:

  1. Transmission: The amount that vaccines reduce transmission
  2. Deployment: How quickly we can roll out vaccines across the country and internationally

Public and private healthcare organizations will need to track these data at a granular level.

Scarpino also emphasized the need for passive, always-on surveillance for COVID-19 and for genomic variants, like the B.1.1.7 variant in the United Kingdom. “Without these surveillance systems, we’re going to be continually caught off-guard by this disease and the “new normal” will feel a lot less normal,” said Scarpino.

2. Vaccine distribution

Next, we have to consider the huge task of distributing and administering the vaccines. This of course brings production and logistical challenges from mass shipping of perishable products, to scaling delivery to patients within myriad healthcare systems. And most critical of all, prioritizing what groups should be vaccinated first, and managing follow-up to ensure second doses are administered on schedule.

“At this stage, the biggest obstacle is delivery of the vaccines,” shared Scarpino. “Given the lack of a uniform national plan, states and localities are creating their own distribution and vaccination plans. Every state has a different approach, with varying levels of success. As a result, we’re already seeing dreadfully slow uptake. What this means is that we need more federal support for community health organizations administering the vaccine and public health agencies monitoring and coordinating our responses.”

There are also concerns around equal access to vaccinations.

Communities of color and Native American populations have experienced an increased burden of COVID-19, as a direct result of generations of systemic racism that have impacted health and access to healthcare. As a country, and internationally, we need to engage with individuals in these communities to ensure they have a voice and vote in how vaccines are prioritized.”

3. Vaccine acceptance and uptake

The third key variable is vaccine acceptance and uptake, which is difficult to predict. Vaccine acceptance is about building trust within local communities, especially where vaccine hesitancy is the norm. Uptake, on the other hand, is about vaccinations itself. Is it fast, easy, and accessible? The story of COVID-19 is fundamentally a local story, so what we really need are data insights at the postal code level.

“The first step is a critical and realistic assessment of our failures and successes, which requires data,” shared Scarpino. “If we don’t have detailed enough data around uptake, we can’t see which communities are close to herd-immunity and which are further away. We’ll be in the dark trying to respond to COVID-19 flare-ups.”

4. Testing speed and availability

It’s going to take time to roll out the vaccine. But with focus shifting to the vaccine itself, we can’t forget the importance of testing. We need to address questions like:

  • How available is on-demand testing?
  • What are the barriers that prevent people from being tested?
  • How long do the results take? Hours or days?

With this data, communities can identify hot spots and businesses gain insights they need to reopen, getting us one step closer to normalcy.

Scarpino emphasized that “high-rates of testing, paired with isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing can control COVID-19 even without a vaccine,” based on models and data from countries like Vietnam and Australia. “With the proper non-pharmaceutical interventions, we could potentially reach normalcy in months instead of years,” shared Scarpino.

5. Contact tracing

Finally, even with testing, vaccines, and wide scale public health measures, nothing beats good old fashioned contact tracing.

“Contact tracing—and its vital partner, case investigation to determine the source of infections—remains our best tool for fighting this disease,” shared Scarpino.

Closely monitoring where, when, and by whom one was exposed will help people understand if they are at risk, and take the right precautions, especially if they are asymptomatic. Contact tracing is foundational to the path to normalcy, by making sure that exposed individuals are aware, they can take actions to limit further transmission.

“We’ve seen myriad countries, like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, to name only a few, control this disease with testing, tracing, and isolation,” said Scarpino.

The vaccine also requires multiple doses, so Scarpino noted that “we need effective, and accurate systems, for monitoring uptake and ensuring individuals receive all the necessary rounds of inoculation. If our contact tracing systems aren’t working, we can’t control the disease and we can’t ensure individuals are being vaccinated properly.”

Getting back to “normal” takes all of us

Over the next few months, these factors will drive how quickly or how well things will return to normal for citizens, communities, and the economy.

“What we’ve seen over the past year is that society’s deepest challenges—from racism and its lasting effects, to chronically underfunding public health, or access to affordable healthcare and housing—largely dictated the course of this pandemic,” shared Scarpino.

“We can build a brighter, safer, and more productive future. One that will help us return to normal faster and prevent this from happening again. But it’s going to take all of us, working together and it has to start now.”

For more information, check out the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub, where you can explore dashboards, find actionable insights, and visualize your own analyses.

From connection through collaboration, Tableau is the most powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform for your data. Elevate people with the power of data. Designed for the individual, but scaled for the enterprise, Tableau is the only business intelligence platform that turns your data into insights that drive action

Source: 5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

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References

Nigerian Filmmaker, Teniola Olatoni Premieres “The New Normal” to Rave Reviews, AP, November 18, 2020

British Airways Owner IAG To Operate Just 30% Of Flights For The Rest Of 2020

International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British airways, the U.K.’s second largest airline by passenger numbers, fell far short of analysts’ expectations on Thursday as it recorded a loss of $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) in the third quarter and announced further cuts to its schedule amid a severe drop in demand for air travel.

Key Facts

Losses at IAG flew below forecasts of $1.1 billion (920 million euros) to report a 1.3 billion loss.

Revenue was down 83%, from $8.6 billion (7.3 billion euros) this time last year, to $1.4 billion (1.2 billion euros) in the three months to the end of September.

IAG blamed a rise in local lockdowns for impacting bookings as several of its key markets face a surge in new infections, while it added that governments had not adopted air travel corridors or new measures to replace quarantine periods as quickly as it had hoped. 

The group, which earlier this year was forced to cut 94% of its flights at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, now says it will operate up to 30% of its 2019 capacity in the fourth quarter, lower than the 40% that they had hoped.

But the group said liquidity remains strong, adding it had raised 2.74 billion euros in early October, helping it to maintain a strong pot of cash likely totalling 9.3 billion euros ($11 billion).

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IAG shares were down almost 2% on Thursday morning.

Key Background

IAG previously said it does not expect passenger demand to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. Like many global air travel firms, the group was severely hit by coronavirus restrictions introduced earlier this year and forced to dramatically slash the number of flights it operated during the first wave of the virus.

As of May, the firm, which also owns Iberia, Spain’s flagship airline, budget airline Vueling and Ireland’s flagship airline Aer Lingus, had received some $1.45 billion in government support from the U.K. and Spain. Industry veteran Willie Walsh, who stepped down as IAG CEO in September with ex-Iberia CEO Luis Gallego taking over, recently warned that the coming months would be “very tough” for the industry and that it would “never go back to the way it was”, but added that he foresees airlines becoming more efficient

Tangent

British Airways announced over the summer that it would press ahead to cut almost a third of its workforce—or 12,000 jobs—to offset the pandemic-induced downturn. 

Further Reading

IAG preliminary third quarter results and update (IAG)

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Isabel Togoh

Isabel Togoh

I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at isabel.togoh@forbes.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.

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British Airways owner IAG cuts flight numbers again IAG, the owner of British Airways, has said it will operate fewer planes than planned for the rest of the year as the pandemic continues to hit demand. The airline group said it would fly no more than 30% of its usual flights compared to last year. The news came as the firm – which also owns the Iberia and Aer Lingus airlines – reported a €1.3bn (£1.17bn) loss for the period from July to September.

In the same period last year, the group reported a €1.4bn profit. IAG said revenue in the quarter plunged 83% to €1.2bn, compared to €7.3bn last year. “Recent overall bookings have not developed as previously expected due to additional measures implemented by many European governments in response to a second wave of Covid-19 infections,” IAG said. ►► Like and share more news! ►► Subscribe to 00Fast News! ►► See you in the next news! Goodbye! https://00fastnews.blogspot.comhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UClk2… Created By 00Fast News #news#00fastnews#breakingnews#latestnews#newsupdate

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New Europe Travel Bans: Covid Red Lists, Here’s What To Know

As Covid creeps up again across Europe, many countries are reimposing travel restrictions on neighbours.

As this happens, the map of Europe is being color-coded red, green and yellow.

Travelers on high-risk red lists are being shut out, either with total travel bans or quarantines. Those on green lists meantime have a green light to travel.

But n a sign of the times, Norway for example no longer ranks any zones as green in Europe or beyond.

Hungary First In EU To Reinstate Blanket Ban Foreigners

Police control EU travelers at Hungarian borders as Hungary closes to foreigners Covid
Police officers control car drivers at the Hungarian-Slovakian border on September 3, after Hungary … [+] AFP via Getty Images

The most spectacular and controversial return to shutdown EU borders came with Hungary’s decision to add all countries to its red list from September 1.

Barely two months after reopening to Schengen travelers, it’s defying the bloc’s recommendations on internal borders and travel freedoms. The measures will stay in place at least until October 1. Recommended For You

Green Lists Shrinking, Red Growing

Links to government restrictions are included in the country headings. See useful details on the Reopen Europe website too.

PROMOTED

BELGIUM

Man at Brussels airport in Belgium with mask as Covid Travel Bans return to Europe
“Travelling within Europe: pay attention to the colour code of your destination,” urges the Belgium … [+] AFP via Getty Images

Belgium in early August added many parts of Romania, France and Spain to its red list. That means a total ban on non-essential travel to those places. Travelers returning must both quarantine and test on return.

  • The current red list includes Andorra, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, many parts of Spain and France, and Scotland’s Aberdeen.

CYPRUS

  • Countries are divided in 3 categories: A (no restrictions), B (some), and C (no entry other than for citizens/residents).
  • Banned C list countries include France, Luxembourg, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.
  • Germany, Norway, Hungary and Slovenia are among the A listers.
  • B countries must show a Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours. They include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Republics Green Red covid risk zones and destinations for travel in Europe
The same quarantine rule applies to Czech citizens returning from the red countries Czech Republic Ministry of Health

DENMARK

Denmarks yellow blue green Covid map Europe for travel bans
The Danish government’s health map of the EU, Schengen zone and the U.K. indicates “open” and … [+] Danish Police/Statens Serum Institut

FINLAND

Finland covid travel restrictions green red yellow lists for Europeans and others
Residents from mixed red-green countries face no travel restrictions either to Finland. They include … [+] Finnish Border Guard

Finland too has a red, green, yellow system, updated on August 24.

  • Italy, Hungary and Slovenia are currently among the handful of welcome green countries.
  • Most other EU/Schengen countries and the U.K. fall on the yellow list, allowing onlyessential travelers including workers to visit.
  • Family members, parents, siblings, spouses and couples are among the exceptions.

HUNGARY

A boy on scooter looks on as Hungarian police officers control drivers at border Europe
Exemptions from Hungary’s wide-reaching new travel restrictions include freight transport, … [+] AFP via Getty Images
  • Almost all foreign tourists are now on Hungary’s Red List for a month.
  • The government advises its citizens against travel to some 40 red list countries in Europe and overseas.
  • Those who do must self-quarantine for 14 days, or until they can show two negative tests taken with a two day interval.
  • Exemptions include transit passengers and Visgrad Group travelers (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia) with a negative Covid test taken within five days.

IRELAND

Men in masks by holiday advertisement Ireland no non-essential overseas travel Europe
Ireland has a Green List for travel, and a not green list, which it doesn’t officially call a red … [+] PA Images via Getty Images
  • The Green List just shrunk, even for Europeans. As of August 31, “normal precautions” and a green “security status rating” says the government, applies only to Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovakia.
  • With the EU Covid seesaw, this could change at any time. The list is constantly under review.

LATVIA

Latvias red list was super-sized in past days.

  • The list from the Latvian Centre for Disease Prevention and Controlshows red and yellow countries, with infections above the required threshold of 25 cases per 100,000.
  • Some 25 European red list countries include Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They are classified as a “Serious threat to public health”.
  • Even those who transit these countries must quarantine on return. The state “discourages” travel to those places.

LITHUANIA

Map of red list countries in Europe EU and world travel bans restrictions in Lithuania
A map of “red painted” countries shows on Lithuania’s KORONA STOP government website shows how the … [+] Lithuanian Government
  • The red list of countries grew on August 31, with travelers from Belarus, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia now also facing mandatory self-isolation on arrival.
  • Norway, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia are the only EU/Schengen countries on the green list, due to less than 16 cases/100,000 in the last 14 days. face no quarantine requirement.

NETHERLANDS

Travelers with face masks at the Schiphol airport in the Netherlands Europe during Covid
Given red and green lists are based on relative Covid risk levels, countries rated Yellow for travel … [+] SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Dutch government zones countries for Covid as Yellow (OK) and Orange (not ok, quarantine required). “Foreign travellers from countries where the health risks are similar to or lower than in the Netherlands can enter for tourism,” it says.

  • Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Romania , Spain, Monaco and various departments in France are on the orange list.

NORWAY

Norwegian Health map of EU Europe Covid red green yellow countries
The Norwegian Institute Of Public Health map shows there are no longer any green, totally safe Covid … [+] Norwegian Institute Of Public Health

Norway has a red, green, yellow Covid map. Currently no country is marked as a restriction-free green zone. Many more Europeans were added to the “high transmission” risk red list on August 29.

  • Red List: 10-day quarantine for travelers from France, Switzerland and Sweden since August 11. Now applies to most EU/Schengen arrivals–from Portugal to Poland–and to the U.K. The few exceptions include Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and Norway.
  • Yellow list countries are exempt from quarantine, but the Norwegian Institute of Public Health still classifies them as “increased risk”.
  • The government currently advises against all overseas travel.
Norwegian people sit by lake in Oslo amid Covid EU  travel bans no travel in Europe
With Norway adding nearly all EU and Schengen countries to its red list – some 20 in all – … [+] AFP via Getty Images

SLOVENIA

Slovenia too has a color-coded system with green, yellow and red lists.

  • Those in the green category like Canada and Australia can enter restriction-free.
  • Red list countries with more than 40 Covid cases per 100,000 must quarantine for 14 days.
  • The yellow list applies mostly to EU/Schengen citizens, who face no quarantine–provided they are not coming from a red destination.
Temperature control for Covid in Slovenia amid new Europe virus wave and travel bans
Slovenia’s updated red list includes several Europeans – Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Croatia, … [+] AFP via Getty Images

U.K.

The U.K. red list comes in the form of quarantine for a growing number of countries. The Czech Republic and Switzerland are among the latest Europeans to join others like France, Croatia and Austria who no longer enjoy a quarantine-free travel corridor with England.

Showing the nation’s quarantine policy disarray, Scotlandand Wales are imposing quarantine on Greece and Portugal–both of which remain on England and Ireland’s corridor lists.

Further Reading: More Covid Tests, No Travel Bans: EU Urges Europe To Make Common Rules

empty tables on Greek island amid Covid resurgence and new wave of travel bans EU Europe
The empty tables on Meis Island in Greece say it all about the new wave of Covid travel bans and … [+] Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Tamara Thiessen

Tamara Thiessen

I have three decades of experience as a journalist, foreign correspondent and travel writer-photographer. Working for print, digital and radio outlets on four continents, I am also a veteran hotel industry reporter and author of travel guides and cultural histories to Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Borneo. Very often on the road between my Paris and Australian bases, I write for Forbes with a globetrotters perspective and newsy edge on travel, culture, hotels, art and architecture. My passion is capturing the distinctive people, places and events I encounter along the way, both in words and pictures. I hold a degree in Professional Writing from Canberra University, an MA in European Journalism from the Université Robert Schuman Strasbourg, and am a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. A love for my wild home-island of Tasmania fuels my commitment to sustainable travel and conservation.

Hair Loss Is The COVID-19 Side Effect No One Saw Coming

When health experts list the potential long-term side effects of COVID-19, a loss of taste and smell, debilitating headaches, and lethargy seem to be the most common. But nearly six months after the virus first took hold in the west, some survivors are beginning to notice another lingering repercussion: hair loss.

You might have seen actress Alyssa Milano speak openly about her firsthand experience with hair loss following a coronavirus diagnosis. In a video shared to Twitter, Milano brushed her hair and showed the camera just how many strands came loose in a single stroke. She isn’t alone: Head to Reddit and Twitter, and you’ll see countless threads where individuals discuss hair loss as a potential post-COVID side effect.

“I have quite fine hair, but it has never come out in my hands before,” Vanessa, a coronavirus survivor, tells Refinery29. “I would never see a hair at the bottom of the shower or around the house. It just didn’t fall out at all — until now. Initially I put it down to stress, but when a friend messaged me asking if my hair loss experience mirrored hers after contracting coronavirus, I realized it probably wasn’t.”

While symptoms such as exhaustion, sensitivity, and a loss of taste and smell have passed for Vanessa, who is 36, she’s still experiencing hair loss months down the line. “It’s generally all over, rather than in specific areas,” she says of the shedding. “I’m baffled. In quarantine, I bought some really nice hair masks and products. I haven’t colored my hair for months, I’m washing it less, and I haven’t used heat on it since February. I thought my hair would do really well, but it’s shedding more.”

What is stress-induced hair loss and why does it occur?

Dermatologists and hair loss experts have, in fact, noticed an uptick in reported cases since coronavirus. “Typically, temporary hair loss, otherwise known as telogen effluvium or TE, will start two to four months after a triggering event such as stress,” says Simone Thomas, a hair loss specialist. The list of such events includes grief, shock, childbirth, and illness; anything from a major surgical procedure to extreme weight loss can contribute, too.

Dr. Zainab Laftah, consultant dermatologist at HCA The Shard, adds, “A disturbance in the hair cycle causes the hairs to shift from the growing phase to the shedding phase. This results in sudden hair loss, which affects hair thickness all over the scalp.”

Can coronavirus cause hair loss?

We still don’t know exactly how coronavirus might impact our bodies longterm, so the research surrounding its contribution to hair loss is scarce. Dr. Laftah says she’s noticed firsthand a number of patients presenting with hair loss roughly three months after a short-lived coronavirus bout or from quarantine-induced stress.

“A Spanish journal recently …read more

7 Franchisees Share Lessons from the Pandemic

Survival wasn’t easy – but for these entrepreneurs, there was no alternative.
Jason Feifer and Stephanie Schomer
Magazine Contributor
9 min read

This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Jennifer Perkins, franchisee, Main Squeeze Juice Co.

Taking care of the team

Jennifer Perkins owns two Main Squeeze Juice Co. locations just outside New Orleans with her brother, Andrew Blackwell. When his wife gave birth to twins mid-March, Andrew joined his family in quarantine — and Jennifer found herself navigating a without her partner.

“It’s been really hard,” she says. “Not to mention I haven’t gotten to meet my nieces! But safety is what’s important, more than anything.”

That’s true of their businesses, too. Their juice and smoothie shops have required a dramatic increase in safety precautions, and while foot traffic has dwindled, drive-through purchases have quadrupled. Inside, Perkins is working overtime to keep her staff healthy and comfortable.

Related: 5 Things to Do to Transition Your Business From Partially Closed to Reopened

“A lot of our younger staff’s parents wanted them to quarantine with them, and that makes sense,” she says. “But it did leave us shorthanded, so for the team members who committed to go through this with us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.”

As they’ve taken on extra shifts, longer shifts, and the increased pressure of serving items in a pandemic, Perkins has hustled to hire additional support staff and make sure her team members aren’t stretching themselves too thin.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as sending someone home a little early and letting them know that the store will be OK,” she says. “Sometimes it’s making sure our high school employees have the time to take their classes on Zoom and keep up with their schoolwork. Our team has been the backbone of this business, and we’re finding new ways to support each other.”

It has paid off: Sales for the month of April were stronger in 2020 than in 2019.

“I can’t lie and say that any of this was super easy or super planned,” Perkins says. “I had my moments of doubt and panic: Are we doing the right thing? Is this the right way to handle it? But now that we know we’ve come out on top, it’s a super proud moment for our team.”

Regal Patel, franchisee, Pieology

Taking care of your own Town

Owning a pizza shop is all about serving your community. So when the Pieology in Stamford, Conn., closed its dining room in the wake of COVID-19, its owners only got busier.

“We’re not doctors or nurses, but we needed to do something,” says Regal Patel, who owns the location with friends Nishant Patel and Sahil Patel (pictured, from left). “We have pizza, and we have food — let’s keep our community fed.”

The trio and their team (whom they managed to keep employed and busy with delivery and takeout orders) got to work assembling care packages of food and pizzas to distribute throughout the community and to the frontline workers at local hospitals. They started including a roll of toilet paper to deliver a laugh along with the food — and realized that their stock of supplies could be even more impactful than pie.

Related: Why This Family Is Betting Their Future on Franchising

“It’s always safety first at restaurants,” Regal says. “So we contacted our glove supplier and were able to order and donate 6,000 pairs of gloves to a local hospital, and they were just like, ‘Holy Jesus, that’s a lot of gloves for one business to give!’ ”

With pizza sales down and their charitable efforts up, Patel and his co-owners are stretching their wallets thin. “We’re doing this out of our own pocket, and there’s no profit at the right now,” he says.

But as they waited to reopen their dining room, they even doubled down with the brand and launched takeout at a new, second location that was originally put on pause as the pandemic spread. “We know that it will operate differently than restaurants of the past,” Regal says. “But now is the time to adapt and create a new blueprint to serve.”

Patty Clisham, franchisee, Ductz

Maintaining transparency — for staff and customers

Patty Clisham purchased her Ductz franchise — which conducts HVAC restoration and air duct cleaning—in 2007. “And six months later, the went to crap,” she says.

Looking back, she envies the clarity she had at that difficult time. “We could see where that crisis was coming from and why,” Clisham says. “But now, this, this is an unknown adversary.”

And for her business — one that requires sending employees into people’s homes — COVID-19 is an adversary that has changed everything. Clisham used to be booked out for three weeks; now she’s booking week to week. Two months into the pandemic and she’d already lost $60,000 compared with 2019. And the jobs that are coming through require extra care.

Related: Buying a Franchise Post-Pandemic

“We’re disinfecting tools, taking temperatures before a job, wearing masks, wiping down switch plates and doorknobs or anything that we touched,” she says. “We have to make our customers comfortable and share that process with them.”

Clisham has been transparent with her team, as well. She counts herself as one of the lucky business owners who received a loan (she says a good relationship with her bank helped her file for relief as soon as possible, and quickly) and was up front with employees about what the months ahead may look like.

“I sat my guys down and said, ‘Look, we’re not going to have a lot of work,’ ” she says. “ ‘But you’re going to get paid, and I want you to stick with me through this, because when we come out of it, we’ll be OK.’ ”

She knows a lot of other business owners can’t say the same.

“We’re going to make it through this because of the PPP money, I’ll tell you that,” she says. “I tend to have about three months’ worth of payroll and emergency funds set away, but when you don’t have any money coming in from jobs, that will go fast. I’m so thankful we got that relief.”

Meghana Patel, franchisee, Kumon

Lending support, asking for support

Meghana Patel was scheduled to open her first Kumon learning center on April 15 in Valdosta, Ga. But when statewide shelter-in-place orders made it clear that she would not be able to open the doors to her new after-school destination as scheduled, Patel considered hitting pause on the whole operation — until she heard from her would-be customers.

“Parents we had spoken to were panicking, and had expressed interest in maintaining some kind of schedule for their kids,” she says. “So we decided to open up early, on April 1, to help those families.”

Lessons at Kumon — which focus on math and reading for students ages 3 to 18 — quickly shifted to the digital realm as the crisis spread across the country, and Patel, who’d just completed her initial training with the company, found herself seeking support once again.

Related: Why Every Franchise Should Pivot Right Now

“I was nervous; you know, I had never used Zoom before,” Patel says with a laugh. “So to have the company there, ready to walk me through it every single day and have them lay out a plan to conduct lessons that way, really made me comfortable and confident.”

She is still participating in weekly digital training sessions hosted by the company, but as shelter-at-home orders have been lifted in Georgia, Patel is also starting to figure out what in-person classes may look like. “Kumon has sent us all the PPE and hand sanitizers we’ll need. We have a daily sanitation plan in place, and I’m limiting all in-person lessons to just two to five kids, no more,” she says.
But it won’t be business as usual for some time: “Some parents are comfortable coming in for lessons, others are not. But we’re in a position now to accommodate whatever way they and their kids want to learn.”

Mike Ziegenbalg, franchisee, Dream Vacations

Crafting your pitch for the moment

Dream Vacations franchisee Mike Ziegenbalg sells travel — especially cruise bookings — for a living. That seems like a tall order now, when planes look scary and virus-filled ships were the subject of horror-show news stories. Despite all that, Ziegenbalg booked 32 people on a cruise while his customers were locked away at home…and he plans to book a lot more.

His secret: It starts with a foundation he laid seven years ago, when he started a “travel club” in his community. It’s a regular gathering of people with wanderlust, who talk about travel and learn about new destinations. The club has 500 members — and when his home state of Georgia went into lockdown, he decided to keep the club going virtually. “My belief is people want to travel again and are ready,” he says. They need something to look forward to.

The missing piece, therefore, was trust: They needed the confidence that cruising was safe. So he focused on a small cruise in Egypt set for late 2021, and said he’d be going, too. (Translation: The size felt safe, the timing felt right, and his presence means he stands behind his sales pitch.) It worked, and he learned an important lesson: “Don’t just wait for them to call or come to you,” he says. “Clear your mind and come up with new ideas and solutions.”

By: Jason Feifer and Stephanie Schomer Magazine Contributor

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U.K. To Allow Quarantine-Free Travel For 75 Countries: Air Bridge Idea Scrapped

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According to the Daily Telegraph, the U.K. government is about to release a list of 75 countries with whom travel will be allowed, quarantine-free, meaning that it has decided to get rid of the idea of allowing travel through ‘air bridges’.

The list is due to be published today or tomorrow and will lift the foreign office ban on non-essential travel to many countries. It is understood that these countries will include all EU destinations, all British territories, such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Australia and New Zealand. Turkey and Thailand are also thought to be on the list.

Travelers arriving back into the U.K. after visiting these countries will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks upon their return. The 75 countries have been decided based upon their low rates of Covid-19.The list of air bridge countries was expected 2 July, to begin 6 July, but it appears the government has scrapped the plan–deemed confusing by travel agents–in favour of quarantine-free travel.

However, whilst the U.K. is lifting quarantine on 75 destinations, U.K. arrivals in these destinations will still be subject to individual border controls and requirements.Ryanair began flying from the U.K. on 1 July to EU destinations, reporting that planes were 67% full. It seems that holidaymakers from the U.K. decided to take the risk that the quarantine would be finished upon their return, or that they would face the consequences when they returned.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, told The Telegraph that “it’s quite clear that British families going on holidays have decided, one, either the quarantine will be removed before they come home, or two, they will fill in the form and then just go about their normal lives.”

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I have lived in Provence ever since I exchanged my London city life for the charms of the south of France. I have a background in research, business and finance.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Britons will be able to go on summer holidays abroad as the government prepares to announce that people travelling to certain countries will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK. Ministers are poised to clear the way for trips to France, Greece and Spain after confirming the quarantine measures would be changed at Monday’s review. Officials will replace existing rules with a traffic light system that will see countries placed into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus in each.
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How To Reach Your Daily Step Goals When Working From Home

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Stay-at-home orders and quarantine life have forced us to make some pretty abrupt changes in our fitness routines. And even though you may have the best intentions to meet your step goals every day, the bottom line is that it can be harder to do when you’re spending more time in the house. Despite your best intentions, it’s really easy to get sucked into a more sedentary lifestyle when you don’t really have anywhere to go and the couch is literally right there.

You know how it goes: You wake up in the morning, tell yourself you’ll just sit down on the couch for a few minutes and then next thing you know, you’re two coffees and four Friends reruns deep. If this sounds familiar, don’t feel bad. You’re in the company of many others.

While sitting around more frequently may have been fun for a while, after more than three months of staying at home — and news of some companies turning to remote work for good or at least a while longer — you may be looking for some motivation and ideas on how to take 10,000 steps when you’re spending more time inside. It’s true that reaching your step goal indoors requires you to be a little more deliberate with your steps and your time, but it’s totally doable.

As the weather starts to warm up, you always have the option to go outside and walk around your local park or hit the track at your local high school. But if those areas seem too busy for your comfort, there are plenty of ways you can get creative inside your home.

Get a smartwatch and don’t ignore alerts to move

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If you’re tracking your steps, it’s likely that you already have this one checked off the list, but I wanted to suggest it anyway, in case you don’t. When I started to fall into a quarantine sit-around-all-day slump, I treated myself to an Apple Watch ($399 at Apple). The deal was that I had to make a valiant effort to get off the couch and close my three rings every day. In the back of my mind I thought, “yeah, OK, that’s just my excuse for spending the money, and it’s not really going to happen,” but I was actually surprised at how well it worked (when I let it).

At first, I would dismiss every “stand” and “breathe” notification that popped up, but after about a week or so, I decided to play along and let the Apple Watch give me the motivation I needed. I obliged every alert and notification and really got moving and now, three months later, I make it a point to crush my goals daily.

Closing rings and getting digital awards may sound cheesy to you at first, but they actually provide some serious external motivation, even if you’re someone like me who doesn’t really love exercise, but does it anyway for the physical and mental benefits.

More info: https://www.mindgenius.com/homeworking-homeschooling-in-covid-19-by-brad-egeland/

Of course, you don’t have to get an Apple Watch. There are other, less expensive options out there, like the Fitbit Versa 2. If a smartwatch isn’t in your budget at all, you can also opt for a basic pedometer or one of many free pedometer apps that you can download right to your phone. The apps are usually not as accurate as wearing something on your wrist, but they’ll still give you a good idea of where you stand.

Walk while you binge

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Let’s face it; some days (or most days), the appeal of binge-watching the new season of Queer Eye far outweighs any desire to get up and get moving. But instead of settling into the couch with a box of tissues and a bag of Doritos and completely succumbing to Jonathan Van Ness‘ charm, strap on your pedometer or your smartwatch and get to stepping.

Of course, you don’t have to walk for the entire episode — and you’re free to choose your own binge-worthy show to watch — but the point is to move instead of sitting. And move like you mean it. Swing those arms, bring those knees up to your chest and get that heart rate going so you can really reap the benefits. If you really commit, you can rack up 4,500 steps in one 45-minute episode. March through two episodes and you’ll knock off 90 percent of your steps for the entire day.

Looking for more tips? Check out these ways to exercise while you’re bingeing your favorite TV show.

Pace in your place

You might feel silly walking back and forth in the hallway or in circles in your kitchen, but desperate times call for desperate measures. While the scenery may not be as visually stimulating as the passing trees you see when you’re walking in the park, a step is a step, no matter where you take it.

You can simply pace back and forth in one area of your living space or map out an indoor track. For example, my living room, kitchen and dining room all connect in a circle. I mapped out the area and know that it takes 71 steps to do a full lap. That means 20 quick laps around, which takes me just over 17 minutes, will help rack up 1,420 steps.

If you go this route, optimize your effort. Instead of walking in a straight line from point A to point B, follow your home’s floor plan and walk along the perimeter of each room to get as many steps in as possible.

Listen to a podcast

If the thought of walking around in circles in your house doesn’t give you the motivation you need to get moving, make it more appealing by finding a podcast you love and listening to it as you go. Listening to a podcast helps you zone out so the time goes by much faster. And if you walk briskly, you can knock out up to 3,000 steps by the time your 30-minute podcast is over.

I like to listen to personal development type podcasts as I work out because it makes me feel like I’m getting a physical workout along with a mental one. Some of my favorites are Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, and Not Another Anxiety Show with Kelli Walker, but there are so many that you can choose from. If personal development podcasts aren’t your bag, find a genre that excites you and then start going through the options until you find one you really enjoy. You can also swap out a podcast with an audiobook and let someone else read to you as you walk.

Walk every time you have a phone call

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Quarantine has been all about the Zoom calls, but if you’re still spending a lot of time having regular phone conversations or conference calls, use that time to get your steps in. Every time you take or make a phone call, start walking around your house and continue to walk until the end of the call, whether it’s 5 minutes or 30.

Keep in mind that if you’re putting a decent effort into your steps, you’ll probably get a little out of breath. While this is fine for team calls or check-ins with your colleagues, it might not be the best idea for phone interviews or something more formal.

More info: https://www.mindgenius.com/homeworking-homeschooling-in-covid-19-by-brad-egeland/

Even if you don’t have work calls, you can use your step goal as an excellent excuse to actually call a family member or a friend instead of texting. Spend 15 minutes on the phone, pacing while you talk, and you can rack up 1,500 steps without even thinking about it.

Be less efficient

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Normally, when you’re doing chores or cleaning up the house, the goal is to get as much as you can done in as little time as possible, but when you’re trying to get your steps in, make it a point to be less efficient.

  • Instead of piling up all of your laundry in a stack that’s taller than you and then struggling to get it all to the washing machine in one trip, bring a few armfuls at a time so that you have to walk back and forth several times.
  • If you have kids or pets and you need to clean up their toys, grab one at a time and put it back where it belongs before going back for the next one.
  • If you’re bringing groceries in from the car, resist the urge to pile as many bags as possible onto each arm and take only two at a time — one in each hand — until everything is brought into the kitchen.

It might seem like these things will only add a trivial amount of steps to your day, but once you start doing it regularly, you’ll see how fast all those 20-step extra trips add up.

Get a treadmill desk

Treadmill desks take the advice to stand up as you type one step (pun intended) further. If you haven’t already heard, there are actual under-desk treadmills that you set up with a standing desk to turn your workspace into your workout space — a multitasker’s dream. But there are other options, too.

If you already have a treadmill, there are also desk attachments that you can snap onto your treadmill’s handlebars to turn it into a treadmill desk. If you don’t have the budget or the space for a treadmill desk, you can opt for a regular standing desk without the treadmill attachment and walk in place as you work. If you do this at a moderate pace for one hour, that’s about 6,000 steps that you can check off at the same time as your work to-do list.

Fair warning, things can get a little bumpy and it’s not as easy to type when you’re moving as when you’re sitting stationary in a chair, but after some practice, you get used to it.

Get a mini trampoline

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OK, you might not technically think of jumping as steps, but it does count toward your step goal. And a study done by scientists at NASA in 1980 found that jumping on a mini trampoline — or rebounding, as it’s officially called in the fitness world — is a more efficient exercise than running on the treadmill at any speed. It also puts less stress on the body, so injuries and sore joints are less likely.

Rebounding, even for just five minutes a day, may also help increase lymphatic flow. The lymph system is responsible for isolating infection and clearing out toxins from everywhere else in your body and, unlike the circulatory system which uses your heart to pump, the lymphatic system has a weak internal pumping system. Because of that, lymph drainage relies heavily on skeletal muscle contractions and jumping on a trampoline is one of the most effective ways to get things going.

More info: https://www.mindgenius.com/homeworking-homeschooling-in-covid-19-by-brad-egeland/

You can get any type of mini trampoline, but bungee rebounders, like the ones from JumpSport or Leaps and Rebounds, tend to be the easiest on your joints. They’re also a lot quieter than the spring-style rebounders.

Dance around the kitchen while you cook

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Getting in your steps doesn’t have to be a formal, robotic process. Make it fun by turning it into a dance party. Since you most likely have to cook or prepare a meal in some way at some point anyway, you can get two tasks done at once. As an added bonus, listening to music and dancing are both proven ways to help reduce stress and boost happiness.

Instead of standing in front of the stove waiting for your pan to heat up or for the water to boil, put on your favorite song and dance around the kitchen. Dance to the refrigerator, taking as many steps as possible, as you get out ingredients. Shimmy back and forth as you chop veggies (but be careful).

Make it a competition

Nothing lights a fire under me faster than turning a step goal into a “friendly” competition. And by “friendly” competition, I mean “completely unfriendly, there’s no way I’m going to let you beat me” competition. That might be the Type A in me, but even if you don’t consider yourself a competitive person, you might be surprised at how much more motivated you feel when you’re trying to out-step someone else (especially if that someone else is your significant other).

Research shows that competition can help boost physical effort — both in the short- and long-term, increase physical motivation, and improve performance (as long as the situation doesn’t require a lot of mental effort).

If you have an Apple Watch, you can share your activity with anyone else who has one, too, so you can see where you stand in real time. If you don’t, you can easily send pictures or screenshots of your step status with your competitor to keep track.

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Aim to meet your step or move goals every day, but don’t fret if you don’t.

Angela Lang/CNET

Don’t beat yourself up

Now that I’ve given you all of my best advice to reach 10,000 steps indoors, here comes the cliche pep talk: don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get there right away. I know, I know, but seriously — 10,000 steps, which is equivalent to about five miles, is a lot. If you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle, you’re probably not going to be able to jump off the couch one day and rack up 10,000 steps around your house like it’s nothing — and that’s OK.

Ten thousand steps isn’t some magical fitness number — that step goal was actually created in the 1960s by a Japanese company that was trying to sell a pedometer. And it worked. Since then, that number has become the go-to step goal for health enthusiasts, myself included.

But if the thought of 10,000 steps intimidates you, scale it back. Make it your goal to reach 2,000, 4,000 or 8,000 steps indoors for a couple of weeks and then once you’ve nailed those goals, you can work your way up. A study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine actually found that you start seeing some serious health benefits at just 4,400 steps per day, and once you reach 7,500 daily steps, those health benefits kind of level off.

Even if you were fairly active before the shutdown in March and the number doesn’t intimidate you, but you relied on outdoor activity or the gym to help you reach your step goals, figuring out the best way to get there indoors is going to take some trial and error. Be patient with yourself through the process. You have to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Start with a few strategies on this list and then go from there. Soon, you’ll figure out what you like and what you don’t and hitting your step goal indoors will become second nature.

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The Coronavirus Killed the Handshake and the Hug. What Will Replace Them?

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Dr. Mark Sklansky has always hated shaking hands. He can think of about a dozen better ways to greet patients than the icky exchange. “Hands are warm, they’re wet, and we know that they transmit disease very well,” says Sklansky, chief of pediatric cardiology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. “They’re a phenomenal vector for disease.” He’s also tried to avoid this form of greeting because he knows that some patients don’t want to shake hands for religious or cultural reasons but feel compelled to when their doctor sticks out a hand.

For a long time, though, being anti-handshake was fringe thinking. The handshake is such an ingrained part of the doctor-patient relationship that it happens 83% of the time, according to one 2007 analysis of more than 100 videotaped office visits. Sklansky was once nervous to take a stand against the popular gesture. “I honestly didn’t want to admit this to anyone for the longest time,” he says. But in a 2014 paper, Sklansky and his colleagues argued that shaking hands in health care settings can spread pathogens and viruses, and that health care workers can help keep patients safe by keeping their hands to themselves.

The blowback was swift. Physicians huffed that getting rid of the handshake would erode the already fragile doctor-patient bond, that the greeting was irreplaceable, and that they could manage to shake hands and wash them without spreading disease, thank you very much. “A lot of people laughed at the idea,” Sklansky says. “But now, people aren’t laughing.”

Handshakes are just one form of touch that has evaporated during the global coronavirus outbreak. So have hugs, high fives, fist bumps, back pats, shoulder squeezes and all of the little points of contact we make when we stand closer than six feet apart. And as Americans emerge from their homes and inch closer together to rebuild their social lives, experts are betting that some degree of social touch will disappear permanently, even after the pandemic ends. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an April interview with the Wall Street Journal podcast.

If social touch disappears more than just temporarily, there’s no consensus on what will replace it. But one thing is little disputed: Social interactions are about to start feeling really weird. “As we come out of quarantine and isolation, I think we’re going to see some people offering handshakes and some people not wanting to touch them with a 10-foot pole,” says Aaron Smith, a psychotherapist and instructor in the school of social work at Renison University College in Canada who explored the pluses and pitfalls of handshakes in a journal article published in March. “There’s going to be a lot of awkwardness as people try to figure out how to greet somebody, how to professionally welcome somebody, how to meet your daughter’s boyfriend for the first time.”

This uncertainty can affect those relationships. “We’re going to start seeing a lot more interpersonal and family-based sorts of conflict,” Smith predicts. If a business colleague attempts a handshake or your mom goes in for the hug, and you pull away, “there’s going to be some pretty big ripple effects in terms of the relational dynamics that we see.”

Why we touch

Even if you hate being hugged outside of intimate relationships or despise shaking hands, losing social touch completely—as we have during COVID-19—still may not feel normal. “Suddenly, we’re starting to realize all of these touches that are missing,” says Juulia Suvilehto, a researcher at Linköping University in Sweden who studies social bonds. “It feels like there’s this weird gap.”

Touching acquaintances and strangers serves an evolutionary purpose. Language is the most obvious way that humans foster social ties with one another, but touch does something similar. “We know that nonhuman primates use social touch a lot through grooming,” Suvilehto says. “The larger the group, the more time they spend on it. It’s a way of making allies and maintaining relationships.”

Touch also helps reduce aggression between people, says Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “When you’re socially touching someone, it’s very hard to be aggressive towards them.” Conversely, “if you separate two monkeys and they can see, hear and smell each other, but they can’t touch each other, once you remove the plexiglass, they practically kill each other.”

Over her career, Field says she has watched touch fall off so sharply in American society that she thinks she’ll have to find something else to study. Social hugging was largely sidelined by the Me Too movement, and smartphones took care of the rest. About a year ago, she and her students observed people as they sat at airport departure gates and recorded how often they touched one another. She expected to see people holding hands with their intimate travel companions and slinging their arms around each other. “We weren’t seeing any touching, even between couples and families who were traveling together,” Field says. “Everyone was on cell phones…just scrolling and texting and gaming.”

Field doesn’t think touch will bounce back socially—she suspects the elbow bump will edge out the handshake—but she’s hoping that touch is returning among families who are spending more time together in quarantine. Welcome touch is good for your health; it’s been shown to lower stress and activate the release of oxytocin, which is nicknamed the “love hormone” and helps promote bonding and closeness.

Nice to meet you?

Shaking hands is probably the most common form of social touch in the U.S., and it’s thought to have originated many centuries ago as assurance that neither party was carrying a weapon. “It signals trust and cooperation,” says Sanda Dolcos, who runs a neuroscience research lab at the University of Illinois with her husband, Florin Dolcos. In the team’s neuroimaging studies, “you can really see in the brain that areas that are involved in processing rewards are activated when people are shaking hands,” Sanda says. Even watching people shake hands is enough to increase activation in the brain’s reward centers, their research has shown.

“The expectations that come in terms of social or physical interactions are so hardwired,” Florin says, that he doesn’t expect the handshake to permanently disappear after the pandemic is under control. Neither does Smith. “I would be stunned if a year from now, it was gone,” Smith says. “I would be absolutely shocked because of how commonplace and universal it is. I don’t see it going away overnight.”

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But even they believe that it will change. People might reserve handshakes and hugs for those who are closest to them and who they trust the most and develop new greetings that don’t involve skin-on-skin contact for those further outside their social circle. There are many alternatives: the elbow bump, a foot tap, a bow, the namaste gesture, a brief nod or head tilt, placing a hand on your heart. It’s unclear which of these will prevail, if any. “You see such a wide range of values and beliefs and political views about all of this stuff,” Smith says. “Underlying all of those are layer upon layer of professional and personal beliefs and values stemming from our childhood, from our religious orientation, from the messages we’ve been taught in school.” We won’t all arrive at the same solution.

But research has shown it is possible—to some degree—to embrace touch-free alternatives. Sklansky, the pediatric cardiologist and anti-handshake crusader, conducted an experiment to see if he could eradicate the handshake in two of UCLA’s neonatal intensive care units, where some of the most vulnerable patients are treated. In a 2017 study, he describes setting up handshake-free zones by posting signs depicting two clasping hands, crossed-out, and encouraging the doctors, nurses and residents to try different nonverbal greetings. While about a third of providers were resistant—especially physicians, and especially men—nearly all of the patient families were in favor of not being touched by their doctor. Fewer than 10% said they wanted to be greeted with a handshake. The vast majority preferred instead when health care providers looked them in the eye, smiled, addressed them by name or asked about their wellbeing.

The handshake has long been a way for doctors to quickly establish rapport with their patients, but something contactless is now necessary—not only because of the pandemic, but also because of the rise of telemedicine. “We’re not going to have some sort of digital handshake,” says Gregory Makoul, founder and CEO of PatientWisdom, a company that helps health organizations improve patient engagement and communication. Makoul co-authored the 2007 study about how prevalent handshakes are in health care, but he believes that words can also build a bond. “You need to have the kind of conversation that makes that connection.”

The future of social touch is here

If you feel that personal connections are harder to form when talking to someone six feet away or through a screen on Zoom, you’re not alone. “You’re having to verbalize a lot more things that you would normally express with touch,” Suvilehto says. Hugging someone who needs comforting or placing a hand on their shoulder often feels easier and more natural than finding the right words.

Being forced to voice these feelings might turn us into better communicators. “But the other option is that people will just stop communicating about emotions,” Suvilehto says.

Just as social touch can be a substitute for language, you may have to over-communicate with words the feelings you would once get across through physical contact. Welcome to Sklansky’s world, who’s been taking the long, verbose way around the handshake for years. “When people reach out, I just say, ‘Listen, I’d rather not shake hands. I don’t think it’s a good idea for different reasons.’ I explain why, and I talk about the paper,” he says. He opts instead for the namaste gesture. “People smile and think it’s sort of funny,” he says. “But I think it’s something that over time, people could get used to here.”

By Mandy Oaklander

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As COVID-19 is at risk of moving towards community transmission, it’s time for all of us to take social distancing right now. Health officials desperately trying to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak and are pleading with each other to practice social distancing and good hygiene.

The Covid Quarantine Is Fueling a Boom in New Online Ventures

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Until mid-March, Zach Sass was the executive chef at Nashville Underground, a popular tourist spot known for its hot chicken on Music Row in Nashville. Sass, 31, had been a chef for 12 years, working all over the country and putting in 60- to 70-hour weeks. After Covid-19 forced Nashville Underground and other businesses to close, Sass found himself at home with time on his hands.

Sass also needed to figure out a way to earn a living, which is how he came to launch his first website to promote the live cooking classes he’s begun teaching via videoconferencing software. He set up the site with GoDaddy, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based domain registry and web-hosting service. “I’m not savvy when it comes to computers and technology,” Sass says. “I was scared not having any skills.” And yet, he got his site online and has begun teaching online classes, helping people to cook using the ingredients they have on hand in their kitchens and asking for donations between $10 and $100. Much of Sass’s inbound traffic comes from LinkedIn, and he recently started using Google Ads to grow the business.

Domain registries and hosts like GoDaddy, Wix, and Mailchimp have seen a bump in use since the worldwide quarantine began in March. GoDaddy has seen an 11.4 percent growth in domains Q1 over last year, with an acceleration in April, according to the company; its e-commerce platform experienced a 48 percent increase in paid subscribers in April over February. Tel Aviv-based Wix had 3.2 million people join in April, a monthly record. Mailchimp, which is based in Atlanta, began offering domains in November and saw websites publishing on its platform double in April, with a 64 percent increase in e-commerce transactions compared with the holiday season and a 107 percent increase over this time last year.

In addition to laid-off workers getting online, brick-and-mortar businesses that were slow to digitize suddenly are finding themselves in need of a website or e-commerce vertical. Cultured Books, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based pop-up bookstore specializing in multicultural titles, has been around since 2018 but with a very limited presence online. “A lot of our business is face to face,” says founder Lorielle Hollaway. “We didn’t have a web store.” With her physical shop closed, she’s had to adapt, building a site with Mailchimp and setting up a partnership to sell through Bookshop.org, a marketplace launched in January to support independent booksellers. “The website is very helpful because people who didn’t even know we had the pop-up space now know about us,” she says. Hollaway has also begun hosting a read-aloud series in which community leaders in her area can read books to kids over video, and she’s coming up with more ways to engage book buyers online. “We’re definitely trying to change our business model,” Hollaway says.

“We’re seeing a digitization of small business occurring right now that would’ve taken over a decade,” says GoDaddy COO Andrew Low Ah Kee. “We’re seeing it in a compressed time frame.”

John Foreman, Mailchimp’s chief product officer, would agree. Foreman cites internal numbers that show a 57 percent decrease in the time website customers are spending between building pages and publishing them to the world. “That is not about friction, that’s about desire,” Foreman says. “Small businesses are saying, ‘We don’t have time to just play with this. We need a website now.'”

By Matt Haber

Source: https://www.inc.com

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Why Australian Travelers Are Moaning About 5-Star Stays In Hotel Quarantine

From midnight, March 28, all Australian travelers returning from overseas have been forced into two-week quarantine–in a luxury hotel.

Following the country’s decision to close its borders to foreign tourists last month, tough new coronavirus measures mean Australians coming from abroad can no longer live out their mandatory 14-day self-isolation in the comfort of their own homes.

Instead they are being put up at state-run quarantine centres, which more often than not boils down to luxury hotels of the likes of Hilton, InterContinental and Swissôtel. The federal government is footing the bill for their stay and food. Surprisingly, it’s a punishment worse than hell for some.

On landing, all international travelers are now escorted immediately to a hotel in whichever state of Australia they arrive. They cannot return home until they have served their hotel sentence. Which is precisely how some travelers are portraying their plush bathrobed stays–as prison sentences.

Within no time of checking-in (albeit under heavy police presence), the outcry from a complaining contingent of quarantined hotel residents started to hit social media.

From her suite at the Swissôtel, 42-year-old classical pianist, Ambre Hammond, described the conditions as “abysmal”. She and about 300 Australians who were onboard the Norwegian Jewel are being quarantined there. In an interview on SBS News, the cruise ship performer complained that her and fellow passengers were being treated like “criminals”.

“We are not allowed out of our rooms, even with masks and keeping a 1.5 metre distance. We are not allowed to open our doors except to get food. We are not allowed to get any fresh air and the windows do not open,” she wailed.

I’m not sure whether Ms. Hammond is aware that everyone in Australia–whether staying in a luxury hotel or not–is currently meant to be practicing social distancing. And few upscale hotels I have visited recently have windows (I presume there is aircon).

“Those in isolation say it’s not a holiday”, reported the BBC. Did anyone truly ever expect it would be? Sure it must be frustrating being pent-up in a sumptuous hotel, as the NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted. Sure, the current hotel guests don’t have the use of the spa and rooftop swimming pool. But truly, anyone would think from the moaning about the service, that these travelers were staying in hard labor camps instead of hotels. There are much worse places to be. Try a refugee camp for a start.

“This is about human rights”, professed “lifestyle coach” Jessica Pinili to her Instagram fans, on her return from Bali. I guess she’s never heard of Nauru where 1,400 people are being held in an Australian offshore immigration detention, at high COVID-19 risk according to experts.

Thousands of Australians currently under hotel quarantine have all been promised three meals a day. Swissôtel is reportedly providing “some shopping requests, medical services and rubbish and linen collection,” according to the SBS report.

Many of the objections have come down to the food quality the inmates (OK hotel detainees) are receiving. That situation has improved since hotels were given the nod to allow guests to order takeout, and have it delivered to their room.

Still, the perceived primadonna and entitled behavior from some quarters has left many fellow Australians aghast.

When model Lara Worthington tweeted on behalf of her mother, about the lack of 5-star service she was receiving at a Sydney hotel, she met with angry reactions all-around. Mostly from readers who feel the attitude flies in the face of Australia’s rallying together and “fair go” ethic.

Here’s a small sampling of the thousands of replies:

  • “I am begging you not to complain about the accomodation! There are Australians far worse off who have a lot less than you do. You will manage.”
  • “Umm this looks very much like The Urban in Newtown and this is the vibe of the hotel. It’s industrial and has exposed beams etc. as part of its decor. Stop trying to make it look worse to sell a story.”
  • “Seriously?? So maybe she should have come home earlier. I have no sympathy … You take what you get and just because she’s your mom doesn’t mean she is entitled to 5-star service.”
  • “This is close to the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever read throughout this pandemic.”
  • “I’m currently trying to figure out how to isolate potential cases in a town where there are 10 people to a house. I’m not sure the average Australian has much sympathy for this complaint here when others in much worse condition aren’t being given the same opportunity to isolate.”

The cringe-worthy comments have left many angry:

“What they don’t have anything better to whinge about than the free food?” says one Sydney friend. “Meanwhile we’ve all gone from having full time jobs to two days a week. I’m appalled at the attitude.”

Others have moved to quell the bad rap being given to the quarantine hotels. “Get off your high horses,” Brisbane resident Fiona Renton told ABC News. Admittedly she said the meals at the outset were a little “grim”–but the room is “beautiful”.

Others are putting their hotel time to good use. Angela Nguyen was in Singapore when Australia told travellers to return home. She came prepared with her own personal supply of goodies to the Hilton Sydney, where she is continuing to run her lingerie business, between self-taught Mandarin and Italian lessons. The sore lack of “decent quality food” on day 1 has significantly improved she says.

 

Then again you wouldn’t expect a culinary nirvana in quarantine would you. Think again … Australian “celebrity chef” and TV host Lyndey Milan found the time even to whine about “carb loading” at the Hilton.

Her inappropriate comments have “Living It Up At The Hotel Quarantine” and “pink champagne on ice” refrains ringing in my ears. I guess Singapore’s example of quarantine “with sea view and room service” at Shangri-La’s sumptuous Rasa Sentosa Resort is a hard act to follow. As Bloomberg reports some residents in Singapore are also getting the hotel treatment.

A far more valid criticism about hotel quarantines points out the risk to residents, many of them elderly, who live in some of these hotels. Apparently in Sydney they were not warned of the new potentially COVID-19 infected arrivals, which nonetheless is giving the beleaguered hotel industry a much-needed cash injection.

One ABC reporter whose trip to a family wedding in Peru was rudely derailed, describes his gilded 5-star “prison” existence, though still manages to bemoan that “it’s not exactly a holiday”. That after highly recommending the frills of an InterContinental Sydney quarantine: “The beds are great, the internet fast and we have a view of Sydney Harbour most people can only dream of.”

So what is there to complain about?

Those travelers being looked after by the Federal Government should thank their lucky stars. Anyone arriving in Australia’s Northern Territory, has to cough up $2500 AUD for the hotel bill themselves. And that includes visitors from interstate not just overseas.

Meantime other countries are picking up on the hotel quarantine initiative, as they toughen up lockdown measures. Malaysia, which has extended its so-called “movement control order” until mid-April, has just swept in hotel stays for returning travelers. Though it would seem that–on top of the typical Asian hospitality they are being treated to–people are receiving it much more graciously too.

“So comfortable, got aircon, Wi-Fi, queen bed, TV, individual toilets, food provided. All are free,” tweeted a Malaysian researcher at the University of Nottingham, “I’m proud of this country.”

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I have three decades of experience as a journalist, foreign correspondent and travel writer-photographer. Working for print, digital and radio outlets on four continents, I am also a veteran hotel industry reporter and author of travel guides and cultural histories to Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Borneo. Very often on the road between my Paris and Australian bases, I write for Forbes with a globetrotters perspective and newsy edge on travel, culture, hotels, art and architecture. My passion is capturing the distinctive people, places and events I encounter along the way, both in words and pictures. I hold a degree in Professional Writing from Canberra University, an MA in European Journalism from the Université Robert Schuman Strasbourg, and am a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. A love for my wild home-island of Tasmania fuels my commitment to sustainable travel and conservation.

Source: Why Australian Travelers Are Moaning About 5-Star Stays In Hotel Quarantine

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