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Airways seek to test U.S. travelers

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 17, 2020

British Airways said Tuesday that it will start testing passengers flying from the U.S. to London’s Heathrow Airport for COVID-19 in an effort to persuade the British government it should scrap rules requiring most international travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

The airline says the pilot program will offer voluntary testing starting Nov. 25 in partnership with American Airlines for passengers flying to Heathrow from New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Passengers will be tested 72 hours before departure, on arrival at Heathrow and again three days after arrival. British Airways says its goal is to show that a single test 72 hours before takeoff is enough to ensure travelers aren’t carrying COVID-19, allowing authorities to end the quarantine requirement.

The pre-departure test will be conducted at home by travelers, who will self-collect a nasal sample under the supervision of medical professionals by videoconference, BA said.

The second test, which happens on arrival at Heathrow, will be a nasal swab conducted by health workers at the airport. The third test is a saliva sample taken alone by passengers three days after arrival in the U.K.

Twitter launches ‘Fleets’ that disappear in 24 hours

Twitter is launching tweets that disappear in 24 hours called “Fleets” globally, echoing social media sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram that already have disappearing posts.

The company says the ephemeral tweets, which it calls “fleets” because of their fleeting nature, are designed to allay the concerns of new users who might be turned off by the public and permanent nature of normal tweets.

Fleets can’t be retweeted and they won’t have “likes.”

People can respond to them, but the replies show up as direct messages to the original tweeter, not as a public response, turning any back-and-forth into a private conversation instead of a public discussion.

U.S retail sales go sluggish prior to holiday shopping

NEW YORK – Retail sales in the U.S. grew a sluggish 0.3% in October, even as retailers offered early holiday discounts online and in stores.

A surge in coronavirus infections nationwide and the expiration of a $600 weekly boost to unemployment checks over the summer has slowed spending by Americans and contributed to the slowest retail sales growth since this spring, when the pandemic shuttered stores, theaters, restaurants and work places.

Economists had expected sales to rise 0.5%, already a significant tail off from September’s gain of 1.6%.

The data “point to a consumer sector that is becoming more cautious in its spending habits,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran, a financial advisory firm.

“Weaker sales likely reflect several headwinds: the slowing recovery, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country … and the reduction in fiscal support for sidelined workers.”

Most of the gain occurred in just a few areas that reveal how the pandemic has altered spending trends in America. Sales rose at home and garden stores, electronics and appliance stores, and online retailers. Those increases likely reflect ongoing home renovations and perhaps more computer purchases by those working from home and those families with children learning online.From wire reports

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