Garden Routers are up in arms regarding the decision to close local beaches from today, following the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night.
The Garden Route District now faces similar COVID-19 restrictions to those imposed on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality; these are meant to curb a resurgence of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday, 14 December 2020 that Cabinet had made the decision to declare the Garden Route District Municipal area a Coronavirus hotspot with some additional restrictions.
Some restrictions are already in place, while others will follow over the festive season, including the controversial closing of Garden Route beaches from 16 December until 3 January 2021.
Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), said: “The closure of beaches is a hard pill to swallow because we are a tourism destination and our economy is still struggling to recoup from the hard lockdown.”
An urgent Garden Route District Coordinating Forum (DCF) was called by Mayor Booysen yesterday morning where he engaged with local Municipal Mayors, Municipal Managers, Command Centre Cluster Leaders, and stakeholders from SANParks, Cape Nature, The National Prosecuting Authority, Western Cape Government Health, South African Police Services (SAPS), Western Cape Government Department of Local Government, etc. to discuss the consequences of the President’s announcement.
“Our plea and request/ submission from this morning’s engagement and from the onset of the resurgence of COVID-19 in our region, has been for beaches in the Garden Route to remain open,” Ald. Booysen said.
Later Alderman Booysen was due to represent the Garden Route Municipalities and present the agreed submissions from the morning’s GRDM DCF engagement at a special cabinet meeting.
The next step is for submissions to be communicated to the National Command Council, with the backing of the Western Cape Government.
“One submission of particular importance to the Garden Route is for the Cabinet to relax the restrictions relating to the closure of beaches and to change it to the same restrictions faced by Kwazulu-Natal (KZN),” said Booysen. KZN beaches only have to be closed on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December 2020.
“I am adamant that we can still get through this if we avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, confined spaces and enclosed spaces. In addition, Garden Routers and tourists need to adhere to the golden rules of keeping safe and adhere to the new regulations.”
“We agree wholeheartedly with the tightening of alcohol sales,” he continued, “Because it will lower the unnecessary alcohol-related trauma cases we often see at hospitals. We are hopeful that this resurgence will be over quickly.”