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Technology US

Nextdoor moderators scramble to address QAnon after Capitol attack

For months, Nextdoor moderators have struggled with the challenge of addressing QAnon content on its neighborhood sites — but after last week’s deadly attack on the Capitol, the pressure between moderators and the company’s policy team may have reached a breaking point.

Moderators have been asking Nextdoor to impose a ban against QAnon content since at least October, according to forum screenshots obtained by The Verge. Last week, Nextdoor moderators began pressuring the company directly in the National Leads Forum, a private forum for moderators on the site. In screenshots of forum posts, obtained by The Verge, moderators expressed concern that Nextdoor’s misinformation policies did not fully bar discussions of conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Following last week’s pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, one user returned to an early QAnon thread, writing, “I am bumping this up. It’s January 8th. Any policies yet? After the past week, we need some. I also wrote an email to Next Door Leadership about this three months ago and got no response.”

It wasn’t until five days after the riot that Nextdoor finally responded to the request, referring moderators back to the company’s policy on violent content. In this post, Caty K., Nextdoor head of community, wrote, “I want to reiterate that the broader Nextdoor team is committed to the safety of all members and communities on the platform.” She continued, “The violent events that took place at the US Capitol last week are no exception.”

But some Nextdoor moderators say that the company’s misinformation policies don’t meaningfully address QAnon, and haven’t been communicated well enough to help communities deal with the conspiracy. The company’s misinformation policy asks moderators to report individuals who distribute “misinformation related to the Election and COVID-19,” but does not directly address conspiracy theories like QAnon. After the attack on the Capitol, many QAnon theories carry an implicit risk of inciting violence, but moderators find it hard to justify their removal as straightforwardly violent content. At the same time, current Nextdoor moderation policies do not include a ban on discussions of conspiracy theories.

“The problem is this policy is written so specific to election and Covid-19 information and does not mention any violation that can be used for things like misinformation around politics and inciting fear in the community,” one moderator wrote in the thread.

“Facebook has announced that it will be automatically removing content with the phrase ‘Stop The Steal’ and #StopTheSteal,” Steve C., a California lead responded. “Does Nextdoor plan to do the same?”

On Monday, Caty wrote that “Nextdoor views QAnon as a hate group,” as a response to a thread titled “FB has banned all QAnon Content – what is ND policy?” Caty continued, “If you see content or members advocating these ideologies, please report them to our team and we will handle. I recognize we do not have a list of groups available for you all to reference, and I will work on that to make things clearer, but for now this comment serves the purpose of confirming that QAnon content should be removed.”

On Wednesday, Nextdoor confirmed to The Verge that it classifies QAnon as a hate group. Still, there’s been no effort to communicate the QAnon policy to everyday users, and as of publication, Nextdoor has not updated its misinformation policies on its website to reflect its classification of QAnon as a hate group. “Right now we don’t have plans to email it out [to moderators,]” Caty said in response to a post asking if the decision would be communicated beyond the forum.

Nextdoor also referred The Verge to its misinformation and violent content policies. “Any post or content on Nextdoor that organizes or calls for violence will be immediately taken down,” a Nextdoor spokesperson told The Verge. “Nextdoor’s Neighborhood Operations Team also uses a combination of technology and member reports to proactively identify and remove content.

Nextdoor has struggled to establish clear moderation policies in the past. Nextdoor neighborhoods are primarily self-governed, and unpaid “community leads” are in charge of reporting and removing content in their communities. This has led to content being wrongfully being removed or allowed to stay up. Last June, The Verge reported that posts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement were being wrongly taken down by Nextdoor moderators.

In October, Recode reported that QAnon-related content flourished on the platform in the last few weeks in the lead-up to the 2020 US presidential election. In one instance, Recode said that a user bombarded Nextdoor for weeks on Twitter before the platform removed a post “containing QAnon talking points.”

According to Nextdoor’s rules, discussions of national politics are banned on the main community feed. As a result, public and private groups have grown to house these discussions. In forum posts obtained by The Verge, community moderators expressed worry over private groups that could be housing violent or extremist posts.

“How can we ensure locked Groups are not participating in harmful discussions?” Jennifer V, an Arizona moderator, wrote in a forum post Tuesday. “We have a LOT of pro-Trump/Patriot Groups that I worry about. I also worry about other Leads or Community Reviewers seeing me report the Groups and the backlash.”

“My concern is QAnon content, as well as other content with conspiracy theories, promotions of violence, etc., that is in *private* groups that won’t get reported because the members of the group WANT that content,” Carol C., a Colorado moderator wrote in the forums last week. “I saw some of this type of content in the public political groups that have since gone private.”

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Technology US

Online researchers scramble to identify Capitol raid participants

For years, police have been warning about the dangers of crowdsourced detective work — but on Thursday morning, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, DC decided to do just that. In the wake of an unprecedented mob attack on the Capitol building, the MPD has released an open call for help identifying subjects. The department has circulated a digital booklet featuring 26 pages of faces from the attack, with a hotline number for anyone who can help identify them. The FBI has made a similar request, although neither agency has produced any arrests as a result of the photos.

The alarming nature of the attack, combined with the failure of Capitol Police to detain or process the intruders, has led to a nationwide digital manhunt. The event was captured in hundreds of photos, videos, and live streams, revealing the faces of dozens of perpetrators. Now, researchers are rushing to identify and prosecute those faces as a way to reassert control, drawing a wealth of tweets, live streams, and Instagram posts into an open-source almanac of everyone who can be reliably tied to the attack. It’s a more reliable version of the internet detective work that crashed and burned in earlier online communities — but this time, the footage is spread across hundreds of different sources, and the police are in on the job.

There’s so much available footage of the rally that simply collecting it has proven to be a challenge. Since the attack began, the open-source intelligence outlet Bellingcat has been collecting first-hand media from the attack, a process they opened up to volunteers as a Google sheet when the severe scale of the attack became clear. There are now more than 100 videos and a dozen full-length live streams in the spreadsheet, all ruthlessly monitored for duplicates and any identifiable faces.

“We aim to collect enough information to understand what happened,” says Bellingcat researcher Nick Waters, who is running the project. “A major part of that will be to examine who led this attack against the Capitol. We’ve already seen multiple notable members of the far-right who were part of it.”

A parallel project has formed on Reddit’s Data Hoarders forum, where a volunteer effort has begun scraping and archiving content at a massive scale. Launched last night, a thread shows 100 tweets and more than 12GB of data added to a collectively managed torrent.

When one commenter offered a link to the FBI’s tips page, another shot back that there was no point. “Dude, the FBI has been all over this thread for hours,” he wrote. “We are basically doing their job.”

It’s a new look for Reddit, which once represented the irresponsible side of online detective work. In 2013, the platform was at the center of a chaotic search for the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing. Poring through publicly available footage of the moments leading up to the explosion, volunteer investigators ended up identifying two innocent men as perpetrators of the crime.

This time, the work seems to be proceeding more carefully and successfully. In fact, many of the people in the MPD’s digital lineup have already been identified through this kind of open-source detective work. One of the most prominent figures in the Senate chamber — seen both roaming the halls and posing on the Senate dais — was identified early by journalist Will Sommer, who recognized him as QAnon promoter Jake Angeli. Others like Jason Tankersley (a member of the Maryland Skinheads) were identified by anti-fascist activists who recognized the man from previous white supremacist rallies.

In each case, the identification was important not just as a potential lead for police but for establishing a clear record of the attack. Already, right-wing pundits and sitting members of Congress have suggested the attack was an antifa false flag, disregarding the widespread Trump paraphernalia and clear connection to the Trump rally earlier that day. But the identifications so far show how hollow that claim really is, with most identified participants having clear ties to either QAnon or white supremacist groups.

Several companies have publicly cut ties with employees spotted at the raid, but they are careful to avoid naming the employee in public statements, mindful of doxxing concerns.

In other cases, the identifications have been more chaotic. On Instagram, accounts like Homegrown Terrorists have dedicated themselves entirely to soliciting tips and identifying participants— in some cases matching incorrect names to photos. In theory, Instagram has a policy against any content that “threatens to release an individual’s private phone number, residential address, or email address” — but enforcement is spotty in practice, and the account has remained up, growing to 60,000 followers.

Facebook has pledged to actively remove video taken by raid participants, seeing it as an incitement of violence. But those platform policies have meant that much of the content used to identify the crowd is already disappearing, despite the best efforts of the Reddit archivists — sometimes from Facebook and Twitter moderation and other times from mob participants catching on to the growing dragnet. Waters says he’s already seen videos disappear from prominent streamers, and “I have zero doubt others will too.”

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Health

Restaurants Scramble Amid Cold, COVID Surge


         Controlling the indoor environment        

As far as indoor dining, there are many environmental controls available that could reduce risk of transmission, said Oscar Alleyne, chief of programs and services for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Restaurants can increase the rate of ventilation in their buildings and install high-quality air filters that can filter viruses out of HVAC-circulated air, Alleyne said.

They also can invest in supplemental portable air cleaners with HEPA filters, cut down on occupancy, increase space between tables and strictly enforce social distancing, he said.

“If there’s an intense approach on addressing environmental controls, that in and of itself would make things safer,” Alleyne said.

Stepped-up environmental controls also won’t break the bank, Allen added.

“Upgrading the filters costs a couple extra dollars. A good portable cleaner with a HEPA filter could be a couple hundred dollars,” Allen said. “I’m not talking about million-dollar fixes.”

However, reducing the restaurant’s level of occupancy to acceptable levels will severely challenge its profitability, Allen said.

“If you got to the level of de-densification that would be necessary to lower risk, I don’t know if that is economically viable for a restaurant,” Allen said.

Restaurants have been making financial changes to deal with lower capacity, Lynch said. They’ve tightened their menus to reduce food waste, and have held off bringing back staff laid off during the first lockdown.

The industry continues to look for new ways to make indoor dining safer, Lynch said.

For example, the National Restaurant Association is working with a leading HVAC association about ways to further improve ventilation and air filtration in buildings, Lynch said. One idea being explored is retrofitting virus-killing UV light filters into a building’s existing HVAC system, so that air is further sanitized as it is circulated.

But even if all of these measures are successfully undertaken, the human element remains a significant impediment to safety, Allen said.

“The risk levels are many in a restaurant,” Allen said. “It’s not just that people aren’t wearing masks at their tables. It’s volume and loud talking, which increases emission rates. It’s alcohol consumption, which lowers inhibition. It’s mixing of multiple groups at tables, if you go out with friends you’re not normally quarantined with.





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Health

U.S. Sets Another COVID Record; Hospitals Scramble


Nov. 6, 2020 — Governors are toughening face mask rules and other restrictions as the still-surging coronavirus pandemic continues to topple records for case numbers across the nation.

On Thursday, the country recorded 121,888 new COVID cases — a 1-day record and the second day in a row the count has topped 100,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project. It was only a week ago that the U.S. hit 90,000 cases in 1 day.

The United States is nearing the 10 million mark for total cases, with almost 235,000 total coronavirus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Cases are rising in almost all parts of the country, with Missouri, Alaska, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and New Mexico hitting record highs for 7-day averages for hospitalizations, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

An average of just under 50,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the last week, and just over 53,000 people were hospitalized Thursday.

Maine hit a record Thursday with 183 new cases in a 24-hour period. In response, Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order requiring people to wear face masks in public in almost all circumstances. The older mandate said masks should be worn when physical distancing was not possible.

“We have recorded yet another day of record high case numbers. This deadly and dangerous virus is spreading all across our state,” Mills said in a news release announcing the new rule. “Protect your family. Protect a health care worker. Protect the elderly. Wear your face covering. Save lives. It is that simple.”

In Rhode Island, new rules going into effect Sunday require bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A stay-at-home advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 p.m.-5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Indoor venues like movie theaters and houses of worship are limited to 50% capacity and outdoor venues to 66% capacity.


Masks are required any time you’re near people who don’t live with you, including at the gym,” the state website says.





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Headlines UK

Tour operators record 10,000 bookings in a day as Britons scramble to airports before lockdown 2.0


Up to 10,000 people have booked holidays in a day ahead of the second national lockdown which will see borders slammed shut from tomorrow night.

Holiday firms are reporting sales surged by a quarter since last week as Britons capitalise on 11th-hour deals.

It comes after package holiday companies were accused of illegally withholding £1billion in refunds to families whose trips were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Paul Charles, the owner of travel consultants PC Agency, said he knew of up to 10,000 bookings since Monday morning.

The businessman claimed it was mainly elderly tourists or people who can work from home who were looking to escape before the new restrictions.

Holiday firms are reporting sales surged by a quarter since last week as Britons capitalise on 11th-hour deals (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

Paul Charles, the owner of travel consultants PC Agency, said he knew of up to 10,000 bookings since Monday morning (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

Paul Charles, the owner of travel consultants PC Agency, said he knew of up to 10,000 bookings since Monday morning (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

He told the Times: ‘Some are going to the Caribbean, some to the Maldives, to places that are much warmer and from where you don’t necessarily have to quarantine on your return.

‘The perception is that, well, either you can be locked down or you can quarantine. They’re not hugely dissimilar.’

Mr Charles added holidaymakers can take trips to places such as Antigua in the Caribbean for £440, down from £600.

The Foreign Office website says from Thursday there will be ‘no exemption for staying away from home on holiday’.

But it has admitted that it cannot place rules on people who have already left the country.

Mr Charles added holidaymakers can take trips to places such as Antigua in the Caribbean for £440, down from £600 (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

Mr Charles added holidaymakers can take trips to places such as Antigua in the Caribbean for £440, down from £600 (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

The Foreign Office website says from Thursday there will be 'no exemption for staying away from home on holiday' (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

The Foreign Office website says from Thursday there will be ‘no exemption for staying away from home on holiday’ (pictured, Heathrow yesterday)

Around 9.4million people have lost a trip since coronavirus hit the UK – and the figure will rise again with the new lockdown and government ban.

But many of the firms involved are delaying making refunds or trying to fob people off with vouchers or the option to re-book, say consumer experts Which?

Under the Package Travel Regulations 2018, the customer is legally entitled to a full refund within 14 days providing the holiday is cancelled by the operator.

A package holiday is a booking comprising at least two types of travel or travel-related services made through the same source, most commonly flights and accommodation.

People who book flights and accommodation separately do not have the same protection.

It is bad news for customers of airlines such as Ryanair, which has refused refunds when it chooses to continue operating flights even when the government has effectively banned travel on them.

Yesterday, the airline revealed that Covid-19 restrictions slashed passenger numbers by 80 per cent in the six months to September 30, pushing it to a loss of £178million.

Package holiday firms have been accused of illegally withholding £1billion in refunds to families whose holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic (file photo)

Package holiday firms have been accused of illegally withholding £1billion in refunds to families whose holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic (file photo)

Covid-19 sees biggest-ever drop in UK traffic levels, with 50 BILLION less miles travelled by road

Covid-19 has triggered the biggest annual fall in traffic levels since modern records began, according to new Government figures.

The volume of vehicles on the roads declined by 13.6 per cent between June 2019 and June this year, the largest drop since 1994.

This amounts to 51 billion less road miles travelled, down from 356 to 305 billion year-on-year, provisional estimates by the Department for Transport suggest.

Passenger cars saw the biggest slide at 15.2 per cent, with motorway journeys down by 17.3 per cent.

Commercial traffic saw smaller declines but there was still a fall of 7.8% for lorries and 7.3% for vans.

The statistical analysis suggest that, without the pandemic, volumes would have increased by 1 per cent over the period to 357.1 billion vehicle miles.

Nicholas Lyes, head of policy at the RAC, said: ‘There is little doubt that 2020 is having a profound impact on our travel habits.

‘The biggest fall in traffic volumes was on motorways as drivers tended to stay local during the lockdown periods in the Spring, with the sight of empty highways surely one of the enduring images of that stage of the pandemic..’

With the majority of people staying at home, even travel on minors roads was down by 11.1 per cent as we took the car out only for essential trips such as buying groceries.

Comparing the figures over a 20-year period, the Department says that overall traffic has increased by 4.6 per cent in two decades.

However, the volume of cars has actually declined by 0.8 per cent in spite of the apparent increase in the number of cars on our roads.

Lorry traffic has dropped by 9.5 per cent but it is vans that have forced the overall number up, with van traffic increasing over 20 years by 57.4 per cent.

Traffic levels are expected to dip with the introduction of the new national lockdown.

‘We are already seeing traffic volumes start to dip again after rising through the summer and with the introduction of local lockdowns,’ Mr Lyes added.

Controversial boss, Michael O’Leary, confirmed people who have paid for flights through November would not get their money back, saying: ‘If a flight is operating then no, we will not be offering refunds.

‘But what customers can avail of is our change facility and we’ve waived the change fee so if they have booking in November they can change it and move it to December or January if needs be. But there won’t be refunds on flights that are operating and travelling.’

Which? said more than £8billion worth of package holidays are estimated to have been cancelled since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, with just over £1billion outstanding in refunds.

A survey of more than 7,500 who have had a package holiday cancelled found one in five who have asked for a refund were still waiting for their money at the beginning of October. The average figure was around £1,784.

During the summer, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into package travel companies’ handling of cancellations and refunds.

Subsequently, travel giant Tui agreed to refund all customers by September 30. Subsequently, Virgin Holidays committed to processing refunds for all holidays cancelled up to the end of October by November 20.

There are suspicions that the holiday firms simply do not have the cash to make refunds.

In some cases, this is because airlines have been slow to hand back money for cancelled flights.

Which? is calling on the government to outline how it will support the travel industry through the rest of the pandemic, and is urging it to introduce a travel guarantee fund to support package holiday providers that are struggling to fulfil their legal obligations to pay refunds.

Which?’s advice to anyone looking to book a future holiday is to use a provider with a good record on refunds.

It also suggests people consider booking a package, rather than a flight alone, to ensure they have greater legal protections if they cannot travel because of coronavirus.

Editor of Which? Travel Rory Boland said: ‘Since Which? first highlighted the issue of holiday companies delaying or denying refunds for holidays cancelled due to coronavirus, some operators have continued to flout the law and the sums of money being illegally withheld from holidaymakers are staggering.

‘It’s simply unacceptable that some of the UK’s largest operators are still getting away with breaking the law, but without meaningful intervention from the government and the regulators in this space, many people will struggle to get their money back.

‘The CMA must take firm action against any operators that are continuing to drag their feet on refunding holidaymakers, and the government must urgently set out how it will support travel companies in fulfilling their legal obligations to passengers.’

Around 9.4million people have lost a trip since coronavirus hit the UK – and the figure will rise again with the new lockdown and government ban (file photo)

Around 9.4million people have lost a trip since coronavirus hit the UK – and the figure will rise again with the new lockdown and government ban (file photo)

The CMA said: ‘Following our action, thousands of people have received money back for their cancelled package holidays – with refunds totalling over £203million from Virgin Holidays alone.

‘We’ve also written to more than 100 firms setting out their obligations to consumers in relation to holiday cancellations, as well as tackling the likes of Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals to make sure people are properly refunded.

‘This is not an issue we’re going to walk away from. We are continuing our investigations into the package holiday sector and will consider taking further action if we find evidence that businesses have breached consumer protection law.’

The travel industry trade body, Abta, said its members have been working hard to process refunds and re-bookings.

But it admitted: ‘Some customers are still waiting longer than normal as delayed airline refunds remain an ongoing challenge for some travel organisers and travel agents, which, combined with higher volumes of enquiries and less staff to handle them have led to delays in customers receiving refunds.’



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Headlines UK Liverpool

Brits scramble for last minute beauty treatments before restrictions return


Beauticians and hairdressers have seen a deluge of last-minute bookings as people scramble to squeeze in appointment before the nation locks down again on Thursday. 

Industry insiders say they have seen a spike as people are ‘panicking’ ahead of salons having to close their doors.

It comes as one beauty salon in Merseyside announced they would refuse to shut after previously denying the existence of coronavirus and called it a ‘hoax’.  

Kim Hillier, 36, who runs Luminate Salon in Watford, said she has been snowed under with bookings since the lockdown announcement on Saturday.

She told MailOnline her seven staff have been working longer hours and extra shifts to cope with the stampede of people rushing to get cuts before Thursday.

‘We’re fully booked, all the columns are full. I think everyone’s panicking before lockdown.’

‘We’re still starting at 10am because we all have kids and need to do the school run, but we’re working until 9pm.

‘We even came in yesterday, and we never work Sundays.’ 

Skin Kerr Aesthetics Hair & Beauty in Bootle, Merseyside, posted a message on its Instagram page to say the business would not be complying with the upcoming lockdown. Pictured: Police enter the salon on October 5

Ms Hillier said the mood in the salon was good as her staff like to be busy, but was anxiously waiting to find out if she’d receive grants.

‘We got grants last time, but we’ll have to find out if we’ll get them this time. We’ve still got rent to pay.’ 

Skin Kerr Aesthetics Hair & Beauty in Bootle, Merseyside, announced they would refuse to close on Thursday when hairdressers, salons, gyms, restaurants, pubs and bars will all shut up shop. 

They posted a message on its Instagram page to say the business would not be complying with the upcoming lockdown. 

Bosses say they will continue to provide beauty services and have vowed to fight any fines they receive in court.  

In a post on the salon’s Instagram page, it said: ‘We will not be locking down again. We will remain open. We will fight this and any fines in a common law court.’  

Bosses at the salon say they will continue to provide beauty services and have vowed to fight any fines they receive in court. Pictured: Police enter the salon on October 5

Bosses at the salon say they will continue to provide beauty services and have vowed to fight any fines they receive in court. Pictured: Police enter the salon on October 5

In a post on the salon's Instagram page, it said: 'We will not be locking down again. We will remain open. We will fight this and any fines in a common law court.'

In a post on the salon’s Instagram page, it said: ‘We will not be locking down again. We will remain open. We will fight this and any fines in a common law court.’

What are the rules for beauty salons and other shops during the new national lockdown? 

According to the government’s new lockdown rules, which are set to come in on Thursday and are planned to last until December 2, all non-essential shops will have to close.

This includes personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.

Clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops also must close.

Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.

Essential retail should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers, the government says.

Non-essential retail can also remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect. 

The Cabinet Office says details about enforcement powers are set to be published ahead of Thursday. 

All personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons are set close from Thursday as part of the lockdown – which is set to last until December.

Skin Kerr and Beauty was allowed to remain open, alongside other salons, despite it being in a Tier Three area – the highest on the government’s alert scheme.  

But in September, Skin Kerr was hit with a closure order by Sefton Council after it repeatedly failed to abide by coronavirus regulations.

The owners of the Aintree Road salon has previously described the pandemic as a ‘bulls**t voodoo virus’ and displayed posters saying ‘you can’t catch what doesn’t exist’ as well as banning masks and ‘Covid talk’.

Merseyside Police also vowed to visit the salon to speak to staff and its owner to ‘make sure they are aware of their responsibilities’. 

Last month Sefton Council announced that the salon had been allowed to re-open after dialogue with the owners.

Speaking at the time, Cllr Paulette Lappin (Lab) said: ‘I am pleased that our Environmental Health team has been able to work constructively with the owner of this Bootle business to put the measures in place that enable it to re-open.

‘As we have made clear, Sefton Council will not hesitate to take action against businesses refusing to put in place measures to keep staff and customers safe, but equally we will do all we can to work with them to resolve the issues and enable them to start trading again.

‘The vast majority of our local businesses have been doing their utmost to meet their legal duty of ensuring they are Covid-secure and since the start of the pandemic in March we have been providing advice and support.

In September, Skin Kerr was hit with a closure order by Sefton Council after it repeatedly failed to abide by coronavirus regulations

In September, Skin Kerr was hit with a closure order by Sefton Council after it repeatedly failed to abide by coronavirus regulations

What are the current Tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool?

What are the current restrictions?

  • Pubs and bars have closed. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions are not be permitted, although services can go-ahead with a limit of 15 people.
  • People should try to avoid travelling outside their local area, or entering another area rated Very High other than for work, education, accessing youth services, or to meet caring responsibilities.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in the Liverpool City Region and avoid staying overnight in the Liverpool City Region if they are resident elsewhere.
  • You must not socialise with anybody beyond those you live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than six in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue. 

What changed with gyms?

  • Indoor gyms were closed under the Tier 3 lockdown last week.
  • But City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said they would now be allowed to reopen.
  • It brings the region in line with restrictions in Lancashire, where gyms have remained open. 

 Source: Liverpool.gov

These rules will be superseded by the new national rules on Thursday. 

‘We appreciate the efforts and sacrifices they have made and would encourage them to get in touch if they are struggling to meet the requirements.’

On its website Sefton Council has said any business or venue that fails to comply with restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure.

Skin Kerr Aesthetics Hair & Beauty has been approached for comment, as have Merseyside Police.

Today, a spokesperson for Sefton Council said it would ‘not be appropriate’ for the authority to ‘comment on speculation on social media’.

However, in a statement, the spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Like everyone else we are waiting to see the full details of the new restrictions and will respond accordingly.

‘We will continue to do all we can to support businesses across the Borough to help them cope with the Government’s new restrictions and to ensure the safety of their customers and employees.

 ‘And, once the new lockdown commences from Thursday, Council Officers will be ensuring that local businesses are complying, as well as responding to any allegations that restricted businesses remain open.’

The salon is in the Merseyside area, which last month was plunged into Tier Three lockdown after a rise in Covid cases and hospitalisations.

Though hairdressers and beauty salons were allowed to remain open, with strict measures, gyms were told to close.

It sparked a campaign by one Merseyside gym owner Nick Whitcombe from Bodytech Fitness in Moreton – who refused to close his gym, despite receiving a visit from armed police.

The campaign included a petition, which has been signed more than 400,000 times, and a GoFundMe page, which was set to help pay any fines, which topped £50,000.

But the government later agreed to allow gyms to stay open in Liverpool, despite it still being in Tier Three lockdown.

The move brought the region in line with restrictions in Lancashire, also in Tier Three, where gyms were allowed to stay open. 

Mr Whitcome later posted an emotional video on his Instagram page in which he , claimed to his thousands of followers: ‘We’ve saved our sector.’



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Technology US

Among Us developers scramble to block massive ‘Eris Loris’ spam attack


The developer of Among Us, a social intuition murder mystery game that’s fast become one of the most popular multiplayer titles of the year, is currently battling against a particularly pernicious spam attack. The spam is promoting a mysterious online handle, “Eris Loris,” and it became bad enough that Among Us studio InnerSloth had to perform emergency maintenance starting late last night.

Hacking and other forms of cheating in Among Us has grown considerably since the game emerged as a popular online pastime during the pandemic this past summer, according to a report from Kotaku. And Among Us has only grabbed more of the spotlight just these past few days, following a hugely successful Twitch stream from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) alongside high-profile streamers to encourage voting in the upcoming US election.

Yet it was only just yesterday players started experiencing the “Eris Loris” spam in their online matches. Developer InnerSloth said on Thursday it was “super duper aware of the current hacking issue” and it would be pushing out an emergency server update to try to address it.

The spam attack began some time on Thursday when players discovered their in-game chat logs filling up with messages promoting Loris’ YouTube channel, with some messages threatening users with hacking of their personal devices if they didn’t subscribe. Other messages promoted both the YouTube channel and President Donald Trump.

A Eurogamer report published today features an interview with the supposed creator of the spam attack on Discord. The hacker claims to have recruited dozens of others to participate by contributing servers, although it’s unclear exactly how the hackers are managing to spam so many matches at once.

The end goal, it appears, is to promote the Eris Loris YouTube channel, which advertises hacks and other game cheating services. The spam attack may have hit as many as 1.5 million games, affecting close to 5 million players if the hackers’ claims are to be believed. Loris is also a self-described Trump supporter, the report says.

Whatever is actually happening here, Among Us players are undoubtedly being bombarded with some type of highly coordinated attack that’s compromising the game in serious ways. According to InnerSloth developer Forest Willard, the emergency server update began rolling out some time in the middle of the night, affecting in-progress games and resulting in potential false positives. But it’s unclear if the issue has since been resolved or whether InnerSloth is planning future maintenance to address it. Players on Twitter continue to report Eris Loris-related spam in the game.





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NFL

Two Jets games rescheduled amid NFL’s COVID-19 scramble



COVID-19 has led to a number of changes in the NFL’s schedule, and it now impacts the Jets.

Instead of visiting the Chargers next Sunday, they will be in Miami to face the Dolphins, with the game at Los Angeles moved back to Week 11. Initially, the Jets were supposed to have a bye week then, but now their bye week will be in Week 10, when they were supposed to visit the Dolphins.

The NFL had to make a number of changes after Monday’s Patriots-Broncos game was postponed due to another positive coronavirus test on the Patriots. The Jets-Cardinals game on Sunday was in doubt for a while on Friday when a Jets player tested positive. But that was a false positive, it was revealed after further testing.



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Sports UK

Sancho spotted in UK as Man Utd scramble to complete deadline day transfers


Jadon Sancho is in the UK on transfer deadline day – but it’s unlikely he will be swapping Dortmund for Manchester United.

The 20-year-old is in London ahead of the international break.

Sancho will meet up with Gareth Southgate and his England team-mates on Monday, before the Three Lions’ matches against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.

The youngster was also in London to attend a party thrown for Tammy Abraham’s birthday.

According to numerous reports, Sancho’s presence at the party has infuriated Dortmund as footage showed coronavirus restrictions were not being adhered to.

Sancho has been out of action for Dortmund recently, and was forced to miss the club’s German Super Cup defeat by Bayern Munich.

Jadon Sancho is in the UK on transfer deadline day

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The forward had been suffering with a respiratory infection, but was tested for coronavirus and returned a negative result. He has since recovered from the infection, enabling him to travel to the UK for England duty.

Sancho has long been a United transfer target, with the Red Devils hopeful they would get their man going into the transfer window.

But Dortmund have been resilient throughout the process, setting out their demands to Manchester United every step of the way.

The 20-year-old is in London ahead of the international break

BVB knew early on United were interested in their prized asset and informed the club they would need to meet their £108million valuation by August 10.

United missed the self-imposed deadline, and Dortmund chief Michael Zorc confirmed there and then the transfer would not be happening.

Sancho is still believed to be keen on United, but unless the Red Devils stump up the cash – as Dortmund are showing no signs of wavering – then the deal will not take place.

Manchester United have turned their attention to Edinson Cavani

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. have turned their attention to other targets in recent weeks with Ousmane Dembele and Edinson Cavani among them.

The latter is expected to sign on deadline day, and will be a stopgap until United can go back in for Sancho in next summer’s transfer window.

Will Jadon Sancho ever play for Manchester United? Have your say here.

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Man Utd ‘have bid rejected for Fiorentina winger Chiesa’ amid transfer scramble


Manchester United’s transfer woes have continued as they reportedly had a loan bid rejected for Fiorentina forward Federico Chiesa.

The Red Devils have been looking into alternatives for Jadon Sancho as Borussia Dortmund remain adamant the £100m forward will be staying in Germany this year.

With just five days until the transfer deadline, it has seen United look into alternatives such as Chiesa, who scored 11 goals in 37 appearances for the Serie A side last season.

But The Telegraph have reported that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also been shown the door on this deal.

United had approached Fiorentina over the forward over a loan deal – but they would only be interest in a permanent deal.

Man United have had a loan bid ‘rejected’ for Fiorentina forward Federico Chiesa

Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.

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And they are close to getting one from Juventus, who are willing to pay £45m for the 22-year-old.

It is not the first time Solskjaer’s side have had the door slammed in their face while looking for a Sancho alternative.

Watford forward Ismaila Sarr, who scored six goals in his debut Premier League season, emerged as a United target earlier this week.

Will Manchester United sign a forward before Transfer Deadline Day? Have your say here.

The Serie A star is seen by the Red Devils as an alternative to Jadon Sancho
The Serie A star is seen by the Red Devils as an alternative to Jadon Sancho

They were hoping to take advantage of Liverpool ’s unwillingness to pay the Senegalese international’s £40m fee.

But their interest appeared to cool after an opportunity emerged to begin talks with Barcelona over Ousmane Dembele’s availability on loan.

The report, though, suggests the Frenchman has doubts over leaving the Nou Camp while Foeman wants him to stay at the club.

But Fiorentina will not consider sending the 22-year-old out on loan amid a £45m bid from Juventus
But Fiorentina will not consider sending the 22-year-old out on loan amid a £45m bid from Juventus

“They are decisions on the part of the club and the player,” the Barca boss said.

“As we have seen, I am going to count on him. He has not played from the beginning because there are more players and Ansu (Fati) has proven to be very good for this team.

“He was better physically the first weeks. But today he trained well and I’m going to count on him.”

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