GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Last weekend marked spring tide and the public flocked to Herold's Bay and Victoria Bay to enjoy the newfound freedom under lockdown Level 3. Regulations allow people to walk on the seaside pathways, but that is about it.
However, the temptation is great to take off that mask, gather with friends... and maybe feel the sand underneath your feet. Some took a quick swim, some had a picnic on the beach and others tried surfing. An outcry followed on social media, asking beachgoers to take the regulations seriously.
The will of the police to reinforce regulations has also been questioned.
Southern Cape Police spokesperson Capt Malcolm Pojie said beaches are not yet open to the public. "We warn people to obey the regulations," he said. "In the meantime, we have increased our visibility at beaches and other public areas by deploying the Public Order Police (Pops) and the Covid-19 task force."
In addition, some asked why a "blind eye" is being turned to those visiting Herold's Bay and Victoria Bay, while access to the Gwaiing River Mouth near Pacaltsdorp, a beach traditionally frequented by the coloured communities, has been closed off.
Municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose confirmed that the path is closed because there is no walkway next to the beach, which will entice people to take greater liberties.
In a post on Facebook by Virgill Gericke, leader of the PBI (Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners), he called the mood at Herold's Bay and Victoria Bay "jolly, sunny & party", and asked where the law enforcement officials and the authorities were. His views were shared by ANC Chief Whip Nomawethu Jantjies-Gushman, who expressed her dismay with the public's disobedience towards the Level 3 lockdown rules.
Some supported Gericke's post whole-heartedly while others, well, have had enough of lockdown to last them a lifetime. Gericke said he is aware of the fact that fishermen may have beach access, but emphasised that beaches are not open for braais and parties.
"Due to the spike of infections in George, you cannot allow such social activities," he said.
Edwards-Klose confirmed that beaches remain closed in terms of the current disaster regulations, issued on 28 May. "The enforcement of Covid-19 disaster regulations falls within the mandate of the police and not municipal Law Enforcement," she said. "Social distancing rules and the wearing of masks apply in all public spaces. These are however rules to keep safe and not enforceable regulations."
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