Mint Lite | Theatres reopen, travel bubble, virus fears, 'First Folio' & others4 min read . Updated: 15 Oct 2020, 10:07 PM IST
Stories, views, opinions and talking points that matter, from around the world
Kenya’s economy contracted in the second quarter for the first time in two decades with GDP falling 5.7% compared to the same period a year earlier. Kenya confirmed its first covid-19 inflection in mid-March and later imposed a partial shutdown. Key foreign-income earners including tourism and exports, such as tea, flowers, fruits and vegetables, bore the brunt of these measures due to lockdowns in international markets and global travel restrictions. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.
Theatres reopen after eight months
Movie theatres in some states opened for the first time in eight months on Thursday, but owners are still worried about audiences returning as the virus continues to spread and no big film releases are likely soon. All of India’s nearly 10,000 movie screens have remained closed since the start of strict lockdown in March. States that allowed reopening mandated 50% capacity and other strict curbs. Cinema staff welcomed the first few masked visitors with flowers, reports Reuters. Bollywood is not releasing any new films to cinemas despite the upcoming festival season, when ticket sales peak. But it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: studios and theatres won’t know if audiences will come unless they release a big film, but entertainment firms don’t know if the viewer numbers will be sufficient to merit the expense of a big theatre release. Most studios have sold films to streaming platforms. For now, theatres are showing older films.
Finance hubs get a travel bubble
In the next few weeks, Singapore and Hong Kong, Asia’s leading financial hubs, will open their borders to one another for the first time in seven months. People in both cities will be exempted from compulsory quarantine but will have to under-go covid-19 testing. The news of a deal for a “travel bubble" cheered markets: Cathay Pacific closed with a 6.1% gain, and Singapore Airlines rose 0.6%. Both have been hit hard by travel curbs and drop in travel. Prior to covid-19, about one million trips were made between the two cities every year. Total trade between the two about was $46.8 billion last year, according to Hong Kong’s statistics department. Countries have been trying to create travel bubbles to revive their economies and aviation industries. India has bilateral travel bubbles with 17 nations, the latest being Ukraine, despite having over seven million infections.
Festival season ups virus fears
The festival season starts this weekend, and with it comes an increased risk of the virus spread. Kerala experienced first-hand the risk that celebrations hold as its outbreak intensified a few days after Onam in September (see chart). West Bengal, which is going into nine days of Durga Puja celebrations and where active cases are rising, now faces similar risks. For the past three weeks, active cases have been declining across India: it now has 812,390 patients under treatment, the fewest since 2 September. Total cases rose 7%, and the death toll 6% over the past seven days—both the slowest so far, shows Mint’s covid-19 tracker (see Plain Facts). The curve of daily new cases is flatt-ening, but Durga Puja and Diwali celebrations over the next month will be a test for states as well as citizens.
Bard’s ‘First Folio’ sells for $10 million
A rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio became the most expensive work of literature ever to appear at auction, fetching almost $10 million on Wednesday. The collection of 36 plays, published in 1623 shortly after the playwright’s death, is one of only five complete copies still in private hands, auction house Christie’s said. First Folio, formally titled Comedies, Histories, And Tragedies, is among the most important collections of literature in English. The version sold at the auction house was the first complete copy to appear at auction since one went for $6.1 million in 2001, reports CNN. After a six-minute bidding battle between three telephone buyers, the item was purchased by book dealer and antiquarian Stephan Loewentheil for $9.98 million. Although around 750 copies of the First Folio were produced, just 235 are known to have survived to the present day. Of these, only 56 are considered to be complete.
An office in an amusement park
It’s no longer just in the hills and on beaches that people are setting up workstations. An amusement park in Tokyo is offering its premises as an office for teleworkers. Yomiuriland launched its “amusement workation" package on Thursday to include a working booth next to its pool and a ride on its ferris wheel with a portable WiFi router, reports Reuters. Workers across the world started telecommuting as covid-19 spread and governments imposed strict restrictions. An August poll by Reuters shows a third of Japanese firms are reassessing using offices as 65% of firms allowed employees to work from home. Amusement parks, meanwhile, are finding new ways to make money after tourism took a hit because of the virus. Yomiuri-land, for instance, sells day passes for $18 per person on weekdays, and it includes a workspace by the pool, and a ferris-wheel ride.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb