WESTERN CAPE NEWS - Premier Alan Winde said in a media statement earlier today that he has appealed to the President to urgently intervene so as to ensure that the decision to close down the Garden Route beaches is reconsidered and the regulations amended as soon as possible.
The statement reads:
Earlier today, I wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting that he give urgent consideration to the amendment of the disaster management regulations in terms of which beaches in the Garden Route district have been closed.
The decision to close these beaches for the entire festive season will deal a devastating blow to the region's economy, which is highly reliant on tourism for survival. This will result in major job losses and this is of great concern to us. It is also not based on rational, scientific evidence.
Businesses in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries have already been hard hit this year as a result of the hard lockdown and restrictions on travel, and it has been brought to our attention that some establishments, many of which are small businesses, suffered a 100% cancellation within the first 24 hours of the amended regulations being promulgated.
One travel agent has already experienced over 400 cancellations and estimates that 50% of all bookings in the Garden Route will be cancelled, which demonstrates the extreme impact of the beach closures for businesses in the Garden Route.
The festive season is a critical opportunity for businesses which have been impacted throughout this very difficult year, to recoup some of their losses, but businesses in the Garden Route have now been dealt an even further blow.
During our consultations with President Ramaphosa prior to the promulgation of the amended regulations, we outlined our position that beaches must remain open, provided proper steps are taken to ensure that health and safety guidelines are followed. Furthermore, as a province, we have been advising residents to avoid closed spaces in favour of outdoor spaces where there are lots of fresh air and good ventilation. The closure of beaches on the Garden Route will only result in more people congregating in enclosed spaces such as shopping malls.
We believe that the regulations therefore do not rationally serve the purpose of the Disaster Management declaration, which is to reduce the risk of infection and the impact of Covid-19. We are also concerned that there does not appear to have been any public consultation ahead of the amended regulations being issued, especially considering the devastating impact on tourism and hospitality on the Garden Route.
In my letter to the President, I have also asked him to reconsider the hours of access to those beaches that are currently open. In Cape Town, where the sun rises early and sets later in the day in Summer, limiting beach hours to 9am to 6pm will only serve to increase congestion at beaches as they will be open for fewer hours. During Alert level 4, beaches were considered to be safe between 6am and 9pm and the change under Alert level 1 does not make practical sense.
I am aware that at least two legal challenges have already been mounted against the closures of beaches on the Garden Route. I believe that less restrictive means should have and can still be adopted to protect the Garden Route economy during the festive season without undermining government’s efforts to reduce the extent and impact of the resurgence of the pandemic.
I therefore called on the President to urgently intervene so as to ensure that the decision to close down the Garden Route beaches is reconsidered and the regulations amended as soon as possible.
Update on the coronavirus
As of 13:00 on 17 December, the Western Cape has 27 344 active Covid-19 infections with a total of 163 134 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 130 498 recoveries.
The Western Cape Covid-19 data dashboard also features additional data including active cases per sub-district, active cases per 100 000 and 7-day moving averages. Access the data dashboard here.
The Western Cape has recorded additional 59 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 5292 . We send our condolences to their loved ones at this time.
Garden Route district:
- Bitou - 2001 cases, 1505 recoveries
- George - 8889 cases, 6741 recoveries
- Hessequa - 768 cases, 572 recoveries
- Kannaland - 340 cases, 221 recoveries
- Knysna - 3751 cases, 2907 recoveries
- Mossel Bay - 4928 cases, 3779 recoveries
- Oudtshoorn - 2480 cases, 1909 recoveries
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