GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Western Cape municipalities are open for tourism this festive season and visitors are very welcome.
This pertinent message was sent out yesterday, Wednesday 2 December, by Local Government Minister Anton Bredell following a media report in which the Head of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete, is quoted as advising prospective holidaymakers not to visit the Garden Route "if they can help it".
Cloete is also quoted as saying that the hospitals in the affected areas are almost full.
Bredell said, "We cannot wait to welcome visitors to our municipalities at the end of a very tough year, but we are alerting people to the fact that Covid-19 numbers are increasing.
"And we are asking people to work with us by being responsible and doing everything they can to help reduce the risk of infection or spreading the virus."
He referred to some places having decided to stop all mass public gatherings until the resurgence gets under control.
"However, there are still many wonderful and safe ways to enjoy all parts of our province that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 and we encourage you to explore these exciting opportunities."
George Herald recently reported that many accommodation establishments have bookings for the December period, especially in the two weeks over Christmas and New Year.
One establishment owner said that if they are to lose this season's economic "injection", it will have devastating consequences.
National Health Minister to visit George on Friday
In the meantime, National Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has informed Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo that he will be in George on Friday to meet with local government leadership. In a memo to the MEC, Mkhize writes, "I am of the view that what we are seeing is of concern enough to require us to prioritise this visit."
Bredell said existing disaster manage-ment regulations are being enforced across the province with roadblocks, blitzes and unannounced visits to high-risk areas to ensure compliance over the holiday season.
Comment regarding the discouragement of tourists to the Garden Route is being awaited from the Western Cape Health Department's spokesperson and will be added in the online version of this article.
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