China’s Virus Vigilance Trashes Travel Plans For Millions

The travel plans of millions were thrown into disarray Thursday by cancelled trains, flights and Chinese government ‘advice’ to stay at home ahead of the Lunar New Year, a sign of China’s determination to keep virus cases low at all costs.

The capital Beijing is in the grip of a “complex Covid-19 situation”, city health authorities warned Thursday, as the start of the 40-day peak travel period began for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The festival, for many Chinese people the only opportunity to see relatives in the year, sees the world’s biggest annual human movement as hundreds of millions criss-cross the country.

But with cases on the rise — albeit at just scores a day, a fraction of the daily numbers in the US, UK and EU — authorities are hemming in movement with a complex web of localised lockdowns, virus tests, transport restrictions and vaguely worded travel advice.

China has not issued a stay-at-home order, but is instead making travel all but unfeasible and requesting cooperation from its vast population.

That is especially the case in Beijing, where the Communist Party’s annual showpiece gathering of the National People’s Congress is set to be held in March.

“People in the capital city are urged to avoid unnecessary outbound trips and gatherings,” Beijing’s health authority said Thursday in its daily Covid-19 update.

“In response to the grave and complex COVID-19 situation in Beijing, the city authorities have proposed that residents stay put” during the holiday, the report added.

Hundreds of flights in and out of Beijing had been cancelled as of Thursday afternoon, according to flight tracker VariFlight.

Passengers wear masks at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan

Chinese people across the country are also being nudged into staying put — with Yiwu city government in the east offering vouchers, phone data and free winter camps for children to entice residents to remain.

Authorities have asked entertainment streaming services to offer free movies, TV and sports services during the holiday to help people pass the time at home, while the three largest mobile operators — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — will give 20GB free data to users based in Beijing during the festival.

A commentary released on Xinhua said the “non-mandatory” appeal for people to stay where they were was to avoid a major outbreak which could spark “massive lockdowns” and “weakened confidence”.

That risks unpicking the economic rebound which saw GDP growth last year recorded at two percent, which made China the only major economy to post positive figures in a year lost the virus.

Mass testing regimes have been imposed across a number of Beijing neighbourhoods where small clusters of the virus have been detected, as fears abound of new strains ripping through a vast population.

China says it has also begun using anal swabs to test those it considers at high risk of contracting Covid-19, prompting social media users and travellers to squirm over the invasive procedure.

Officials took anal swabs from residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Beijing last week, broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday, while those in designated quarantine facilities have also undergone the test.

The virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The country’s National Health Commission says 4,636 people have died in the country as a result of the virus.

In comparison, more than 400,000 Americans have died so far as the sickness rips through its population and economy, while the UK recorded its 100,000th fatality this week.

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George Clooney Trashes Trump as a ‘Charismatic Carnival Barker’

Actor George Clooney once again slammed Republicans and President Donald Trump, who the Midnight Sky actor trashed as a “charismatic carnival barker.”

The New York Times asked the Argo star about his impression of Joe Biden presidency and whether or not Biden will be able to reach across the aisle to Republicans like he claims he can. Clooney replied that Biden will not be able to work with the GOP and used Texas Sen. Ted Cuz as an example of why Biden’s effort to work with Republicans will fall apart.

Clooney added that many of the Republicans in the Senate won’t want to work with Biden because they want to be president themselves.

“Every single one of these guys have aspirations for bigger things — Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, all of them,” Clooney told the Times. “They think people will travel with them because, ‘I’ve stuck with you, Don,’ but the truth is, they won’t. They stay with Donald because Donald, for all of his immense problems as a human being, is a charismatic carnival barker.”

Clooney also slammed the president for refusing to support a coronavirus mask mandate, which already exist in most states.

“The idea that we politicize things like this is crazy,” Clooney said, ignoring the left’s efforts over the very issue. “Had Trump come out at the very beginning and said, ‘We’re all going to wear masks because it’s the right thing to do and it’s going to save a lot of lives,’ the whole country would have gotten behind him, and he would have been re-elected. But he thought it would affect his economy, so he chose to say it didn’t exist. And now we’re going to have 350,000 people dead.”

Clooney, a supporter of far-left, Democrat causes and candidates, who has donated millions to the Democrat Party, closed his discussion of politics by denying any interest in running for office himself.

“That’d be fun, wouldn’t it? Gee, what a great way to spend the last third of my life, trying to make deals with people that have no intention of making deals,” he said drily.

Watch below: 

Earlier this week, Clooney gushed over Joe Biden, calling him “very smart, wise man,” which the Ocean’s 8 star said America’s “going to need that after we’ve lost probably close to 400,000 people by the time we get [the coronavirus pandemic] in our rear-view mirror.”

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Council trashes plan to deploy street composting bins

BALLINA Shire Council has dismissed an idea from local businesses to set up street composting bins in the Lennox Head CBD.

The question, raised by a number of local business owners and residents, looked into the possibility to have a third bin on Lennox Head street waste to cater for compostable materials.

At the Ballina Shire “B” Ward Committee meeting on July 20, councillors were advised there was support for such a move among “a growing number of business owners” in Lennox Head, “as cafes tend to be moving towards compostable packaging and new bins are likely to be included in the town centre upgrade”.

Lloyd Isaacson, Manager Resource Recovery at Ballina Shire Council, said the idea was good but the practical implications of putting in place pointed in the opposite direction.

“We don’t support the introduction of public place organic bins, because they are notoriously difficult, challenging, expensive and with negligible environmental benefits,” he said.

Mt Isaacson said organic bins in public places normally carry a high risk of contamination of the organic material.

“If you have a full truck of organics and you get contaminated organic bins from a public place, the whole truck would be contaminated and that would waste a lot of that resource,” he said.

“There is still a lot of confusion in regards to packaging, Some businesses may have compostable packaging, which is fantastic, but it has to be to a certain Australian standard, otherwise it may contain material that cannot be composted.”

The council manager said the idea of setting up street composting bins would also mean extra resources needed to service such facilities.

“It would require additional truck movement, because we cannot collect that material in the same track (as general waste), and they also need to be collected on a high frequency, and that would mean a lot more council tracks through the main street of Lennox Head, more often, to ensure the bins don’t smell or get too full, ” he said.

“One program that is available to businesses is through North East Waste, looking at how they can support cafes and other businesses to better recycle and introduce organic services”.

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