Coronavirus restrictions have been in place now, in some form, for more than nine months, with the UK going into its first lockdown on March 23rd. 2020 was a year defined by the global pandemic, with the World Health Organization (WHO) first announcing the outbreak of the virus last January.
The decade also started with news of the Australian wildfires catching headlines, carrying over from 2019. Although the fires continued to occur as late as March, the worst of the damage took place around the turn of the new year. In the end, the damage caused by the fires spanned 126,000 square kilometres and claimed the lives of 33 people.
The worst affected areas were in Victoria and New South Wales, and a state of emergency was declared in the Australian capital, Canberra, when the fires reached their peak.
January was also defined, from the British perspective, by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back as “senior” royals. The couple announced they planned to divide their time between the UK and North America, with a view to becoming fully financially independent, on January 8th.
The first month of the year also bore witness to the first in a string of deaths to hit the news. A helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, took the lives of NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven more. Other notable celebrities to pass away include actor Chadwick Boseman, star of Black Panther and 21 Bridges, and musician Eddie Van Halen.
Aside from celebrity deaths, the killing of on May 25th sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in and beyond the US. The protests also led to controversy surrounding whether sports stars should be penalised for kneeling during the US national anthem. Sporting bodies such as the NFL and NBA decided against punishing athletes for protesting. A further wave of protests followed the shooting of Jacob Blake in August by Rusten Sheskey. Blake was shot several times at close range in the back, leaving him paralysed, though prosecutors have now said Sheskey will not be charged.
In July, the world suffered a historic online scam, estimated to have stolen around £86,800. Hackers took over the accounts of notable public figures including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West. They requested money in bitcoin from followers, pledging to return double the amount they were sent. The scam caused a debate on whether Twitter could be a reliable means for politicians to engage with their support bases during the US Presidential Election.
The election took place on November 3rd, with Joe Biden winning 306 votes in comparison to Donald Trump claiming 232. Since then, the Trump campaign has pursued extensive legal action under various grounds, most of which have been proven false.
In the final part of the year the Covid-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was completed and made ready for rollout. The UK became the first country to authorise its use in a widespread roll-out, continuing into 2021.
And the UK closed out the year with Brexit, leaving the EU at 23:00 on 31st December 2020. The UK was originally supposed to leave on 29th March 2019.