Opinion: Believe it or not, posing poolside in Dubai isn’t essential work

Two unrecognisable females using their mobile phones together

Throughout lockdown, a number of social media personalities have travelled internationally under the guise of 'essential work' - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As we get deeper into February, we’re fast approaching the one-year anniversary of when the country first went into lockdown back in March. And what a year it’s been. Nothing could’ve predicted how, well, unpredictable, the last 11 months would turn out to be.   

Pandemic or not, there’s always one thing you can always rely on, though – the entitlement of influencers. We’re well into the nation’s third lockdown, with the government saying over and over again ‘Do not travel unless it’s essential’.   

And while I’m no fan of how the government has handled this entire pandemic, they’re not wrong here. While we’re meant to be locked down to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus, there’s very little reason why people would need to be travelling internationally right now. We’re not even allowed to travel nationally, as we’ve been told to stay in our homes and stay local.   

Road sign indicating essential travel only due to the Covid-19 lockdown

'Stay home. Essential travel only' - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Yet across social media and mainstream news, we’re being flooded with images of influencers on their jollies under the guise of it being ‘essential work’, usually somewhere like Dubai - which until recently had allowed Brits to travel there as it fell outside of the UK’s quarantine bubble up until January 12.  

But is flying to Dubai, or anywhere right now, essential? Of course it isn’t.   


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Posting a photo of yourself riding a camel or sipping cocktails by the pool as part of a brand deal is not essential. It is essentially killing people, though.   

We’re still in the midst of this pandemic, and with multiple variants and strains now being documented, as safe as you think you’re being, there’s no guarantee you won’t have brought the virus back with you. 

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Since the start of the pandemic, around 110,000 people have died from Covid  in the UK. 

“It’s my life, I’m not hurting anybody,” said Sheridan Mordew, an influencer who brazenly went on This Morning last week to defend her choice to go to Dubai during the pandemic for her ‘essential’ work. It’s that sort of attitude that’s led us to still be in lockdown this far into the pandemic.   

Woman with champagne glass looking at view on Dubai famous travel destination. (soft focus)

At the start of the year, Dubai became a travel hot-spot, with influencers travelling in the midst of a pandemic for what they deemed was 'essential work' - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Influencers continually preach ‘be kind’ when they’re met with backlash – but surely the kindest thing to do during a pandemic would be to stay home and help save lives. The NHS is under an enormous strain right now, and flying abroad to take selfies isn’t helping in the slightest.   

Seeing such a flagrant disregard for human life is a huge slap in the face to those of us who have followed the rules, stayed at home, adapted to working from home, forgone any travel plans we had, and in many instances have personally been affected by the virus.   

Maybe these former Love Island alum and other reality stars should perhaps take a look at Joe Wicks, and see how you can really make effective and influential content from the comfort of your own home - without breaking any rules or restrictions.   

For anyone who’s unfamiliar, Joe Wicks is a fitness coach who has spent lockdown livestreaming a range of family-friendly exercise routines that can be done from the safety of your living room.   

His efforts have certainly paid off too, as he’s not only become an even bigger household name than he was before, but he’s managed to break the Guinness World Record for ‘most viewers for a fitness workout live stream on YouTube’ after amassing an impressive 950,000 viewers. That’s how you create content during a pandemic.  

Or better yet, maybe take a long, hard look at Dr Alex George to see what a real essential worker looks like. 

The series four Love Island contestant has been working tirelessly on the frontline throughout the entire pandemic as a doctor, looking after those in need and putting in the hours to help get the country back on its feet.  

And of course, he’s not the only one. 

Think of all of the other doctors and nurses, supermarket workers, care home staff, teachers, delivery drivers and everyone else who has not only followed the rules, but are keeping the country ticking over, day by day.   

Now that’s essential work. Not selling teeth whitening strips and fast fashion clothing brands from a poolside cabana.   

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