Happy hour: positive news on May 29th
May 29, 2020
Lockdown has loosened its grip on the UK and glimpses of pre-pandemic life are starting to emerge once again. Covid-19 transmissions and deaths are falling across the nation, despite fears that a second wave may be looming on the horizon. But we are stronger, more aware, and better prepared to tackle this pandemic than we were three months ago. Every day we are taking positive steps toward recovery. So sit back and enjoy the British summer, there is still time for 2020 to be the year you wanted it to be.
1. Jacinda Ardern proposes a four-day working week to help rebuild New Zealand after Covid-19
New Zealand’s prime minister makes it onto our dose of positive news again with yet another progressive plan for her country. Ardern is encouraging employers to adopt a four-day working week model to boost the struggling tourism sector and help people address work/life balance issues. While borders remain closed to international travelers, the move is aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to explore their own country—which is nothing short of spectacular—and stimulates the hard-hit tourism industry. “I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so. To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country,” said Ardern.
2. Boris Johnson forced to scrap NHS surcharge for migrant health workers
The Prime Minister has bowed to pressure from his own benches to drop the visa surcharge for foreign health and care workers after Labour leader Keir Starmer raised the issue in last week’s PMQs. The £400 fee for non-EU health and care workers was due to spike to £624 in October in a move criticized as “mean-spirited, doctrinaire and petty” by Tory MP Roger Gale. Starmer praised the turnaround as “a victory for common decency”.
3. Muslim woman becomes a first hijab-wearing judge in UK
It has been a long time coming, but it’s finally happened. Raffia Arshad, 40, has become the first UK judge to wear a hijab. The barrister was appointed a deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit last week. Arshad has an impressive 17-year career behind her, but she still feels discrimination. She hopes that her achievement will ensure “the sound of diversity is heard loud and clear”, and that other women from similar backgrounds will feel empowered to do the same within the legal profession. Go Raffia!
4. Sicily offers to chip in towards flights and hotels for tourists
That Italian holiday might not be off the cards yet—in fact, it might even cost you less than it normally would. To reboot its battered tourism industry, Sicily’s regional government has backed a € 50 million (£ 45 million) scheme to pay half the price of plane tickets and one in three nights in hotel fees for visitors. The island relies heavily on tourism and has lost nearly £ 1 billion in revenue since March 10. Italy has come out the other side of one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns, with shops and museums opening up again. So get in the mood for pasta, prosecco, and an evening passeggiata, because Sicily needs you!
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