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South Africa's Film and Television Industry Back in Studios Amid COVID-19 Outbreak.

South Africa's Film and Television Industry Resumes Amid  COVID-19 Outbreak

While the industry has been given the go-ahead to get back to production, broadcasters have been told to work on shows that "can be produced with minimal risk".

South Africa's film and television industry has been given the go-ahead by the government to resume production following a month-long suspension. While the country recently entered level-4 restrictions under a continued national lockdown, broadcasters, actors, actresses, production houses and crews will still have to abide by several strict regulations as part of efforts to contain further spread of COVID-19.

A week after the 20th edition of the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were held virtually on Twitter, the industry and its various players have received a saving grace. Popular soap operas and telenovelas including The River, Uzalo, The Queen, Imbewu, Isibaya, Muvhango and several others, are more likely to resume production immediately due to the relative safety of studio environments versus on-location shoots.

Guidelines issued in the Government Gazette read as follows:

"Broadcasters must identify solutions to ensure the protection of performers and production crews" according to the Government Gazette, and should "retain, to the extent possible, a work from home approach. Each broadcaster must work closely with the respective production companies and the relevant industry bodies to determine the most appropriate return-to-production strategy and feasible implementation dates."

READ: Here's How Artists are Navigating the World of Music Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

As the national lockdown continues in South Africa, the economic repercussions have left few unscathed. Recently, South African Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has called on the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), to play more South African content in an effort to assist artists during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa currently stands at 7220 with 138 deaths and 2746 recoveries. Thus far, there have been over 250 000 tests conducted across the country.

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Nigerian Government Barred From Prosecuting Twitter Users

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has ordered the Nigerian government to refrain from prosecuting Twitter users, while it considers the case brought to it by civil society organisations and journalists.

Activists and journalists took the Nigerian government to court to challenge the recent Twitter ban, asking "the court to declare the indefinite suspension of Twitter a continuous violation of their human rights under the international law." As it stands the ban threatens to criminalise the 40 million Twitter users in the country.

According to Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian NGO, the court ruled that no person should be "sanctioned, harassed, intimidated, arrested or prosecuted for using Twitter in Nigeria.The ruling also means that tech companies must immediately restore people's access to Twitter as a matter of human right."

"The court has listened very well to the objection by Nigeria. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as inference with human rights. This will violate human rights. Nigeria must take immediate steps to implement this order," the court ruling stated.

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