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Los Angeles delays movie theatre reopenings after rise in COVID-19 cases
30 June 2020, 2:25 PM

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced he was taking a “hard pause” on when movie theatre in the city can reopen, citing an increase in coronavirus cases.

LA County is the biggest movie theatre market in the United States.

“We have hit a hard pause on opening any more businesses such as movie theatres, bowling alleys, playgrounds, concert halls, theme parks or other entertainment venues,” Garcetti said at a news briefing.

He did not give a date for when movie theatres in Los Angeles might be given the green light to reopen.

The theatre business has been devastated by the coronavirus shutdowns that began in mid-March, laying off tens of thousands of employees and borrowing funds to stay afloat.

On Monday AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the nation’s biggest movie theatre chain, said it had delayed the reopening of its venues in the United States by two weeks to July 30.


Garcetti said the rise in coronavirus cases in Los Angeles in the last few days meant that it was “time for a collective course correction.”

Record COVID-19 surges

California and Texas both marked record spikes in new COVID-19 infections on Monday, as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge in America’s second-largest city that put it over 100 000 cases.

Los Angeles has become a new epicentre in the pandemic as coronavirus cases and hospitalisations surge there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s strict orders requiring bars to close and residents to wear masks in nearly all public spaces.

LA County said its beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend and fireworks displays will be banned.

State-wide positive tests for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, rose by at least 7 418 in California Monday to nearly 223 000.

This is the biggest one-day increase since tracking began.

California is among a number of US states including Florida, Texas and Arizona battling a new wave of infections as the nation emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses.

COVID-19 infections in Texas rose by 6 545 on Monday to nearly 160 000, also setting a record for a one-day increase.

Nationally, cases rose by more than 40 000 for the fourth time in the past five days.




Four suspected illicit cigarette smugglers arrested in Musina
30 June 2020, 11:36 AM

Four suspected illicit cigarettes smugglers have been arrested on the N1 at Musina in Limpopo.

Police Spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo says they have also confiscated illicit cigarettes with street value estimated at R1 million.

Investigations further discovered more illicit cigarettes in a warehouse in the area.

Mojapelo says the suspects will appear in court soon.

“A joint operation that was conducted by the police, soldiers and customs officials along the N1 road between Beitbridge and Musina succeeded in dismantling a possible network of illicit cigarette smugglers where four suspects were arrested and illicit cigarettes valued at more than R1 million confiscated.

The initial arrests led a team to a warehouse in Musina town where a lot of smuggled cigarettes possibly waiting for distribution for various destinations were found. The suspects will appear in Musina Magistrate’s Court soon,” says Mojapelo.

Illicit trade costing economy millions

The illicit trade in tobacco, especially cigarettes, costs South Africa’s economy billions of rands annually through the loss of tax revenue.

According to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the estimated loss through the illegal cigarette trade for the 2015/16 financial year was R6 billion.

It seems the illegal cigarette trade will thrive due to the ban on legal sales in the country.

The continued ban forms part of state regulations governing the COVID-19 lockdown and has been in place since March 27.

In the video below, CEO at IRS Forensic Investigations Chad Thomas says illicit cigarette syndicates have been operating for a long time in the country:

Challenge to lift tobacco ban dismissed

The High Court in Pretoria has dismissed with costs an application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) to have government’s ban on the sale of tobacco products overturned.

The court ruled that FITA’s argument that cigarettes should be regarded as essential because tobacco is addictive has no merit.

Civil rights’ organisation Tax Justice SA joined the legal battle against the ban on the sale of tobacco products by British American Tobacco (BAT).

BAT South Africa’s court challenge has been postponed to the 5th of August.

Tax Justice South Africa’s founder Yusuf Abramjee says ministers in the National Coronavirus Command Council know they cannot legally justify their irrational prohibition of cigarette sales.

In the video below, Abramjee says the ban robs the country’s struggling economy of billions in taxes and threatens thousands of jobs:

-Additional reporting by SABC News.

Kenya’s tourism industry hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic
30 June 2020, 9:09 AM

Kenya has lost 800 million US dollars in tourism revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis, the country’s tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said on Monday.

Balala said this is almost half of last year’s total revenue and warned that it would take months before the industry can recover.

In 2019, the tourism sector earned the East African nation $1.54-billion.

Tourism is among Kenya’s top foreign exchange earners, contributing at least 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Sector hardest hit since 2015

This is the worst performance following a rebound in 2015, which followed a drop in Al Qaeda linked terror attacks in the country.

Balala says while domestic tourism may bounce back, it will be months before international tourism arrivals resume normalcy.

“From the 6th of July, the country will open up. Definitely we know there will be some international tourism coming in December because of the holidays. But proper international recovery will be in the summer 2021. That is our projection so far.”

Kenya currently has over 6 000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, the highest in the East Africa.

Over 2 000 people have recovered while over 100 have died.

The video below outlines Kenya’s tourism sector woes:

Gauteng could emerge as SA’s COVID-19 epicentre: Report
30 June 2020, 7:47 AM

The Health Department says COVID-19 models predict that Gauteng will within the coming days emerge as the next epicentre of the disease in the country.

According to a report by the Portfolio Committee of Health in the Gauteng Legislature, the department attributes this to inward migration, large population sizes in the metro and the congregating of people.

The Gauteng government says it’s worried that the province is experiencing an alarming increase in COVID-19 infections, with the death toll also rising.

The death toll has increased to 180.

Most of those who’ve died from COVID-19 are men with commodities such as diabetes and hypertension.

In the tweet below, the Health Department outlines some reasons for the prediction: 

Metros, frontline workers most affected

The province has nearly 40 000 thousand cumulative cases, while over 9 000 people have recovered.

The metropolitan areas account for 88% percent of active cases.

The City of Johannesburg leads with 51% of active cases, followed by Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.

Of concern to the department is the recent increase in cases in the West Rand.

Public health workers were reported to be the most infected with 965 cases, followed by the health workers in the private sector with 881 cases.

The mining sector accounts for 467 cases and 381 educators in the province have also tested positive.

Measures to curb infections

According to the report, the department had responded by putting measures to cap the spread of COVID-19.

These include procurement of two private laboratory services, establishment of district response teams, continued screening and contact tracing, targeted testing approach and continued education and awareness as well as daily monitoring of the virus behaviour.

About 2 188 people are in quarantine facilities provided by the department.

The tweet below outlines some of these measures: 

Over 10 000 full-time community health workers have been deployed across the five districts in the province.

Residents have been urged to adhere to health protocols of washing hands regularly, social distancing and the wearing of masks when out in the public as well as avoiding crowded areas to flatten the curve and bring down the rate of infections.

Senegal lifts COVID-19 state of emergency to protect economy
30 June 2020, 6:39 AM

Senegalese President Macky Sall on Monday said he had decided to lift a state of emergency over COVID-19 to support the struggling economy.

Macky warned that the economy could grow less than 1.1% this year due to fallout from the epidemic.

As recently as January, growth was forecast at 6.8% in 2020, but business activity plummeted after borders closed and a curfew and social distancing rules were imposed to curb the virus,

“This is the challenge we must now face: to fight to preserve our lives and our health, and to resume all our productive activities to get our economy back on track,” Sall said in a speech to the nation.

The state of emergency and a night-time curfew will be lifted as of Tuesday 2300 local time, and air borders will open from July 15 under certain conditions, he said.

Senegal COVID-19 stats

Senegal currently sits at over 6 600 infections, with over 4 300 recoveries and over 100 deaths.

President Sall had placed himself in self-quarantine last week after having come into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

While Senegal’s government has not faced major opposition to its handling of the pandemic, protests broke out earlier this month in the capital Dakar against some imposed restrictions.



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