Covid-19 halts Cape Town's annual festive lights event

19 October 2020 - 06:33
Cape Town has cancelled its annual lights switch-on event for the safety of all those who would be involved in the concert.
Cape Town has cancelled its annual lights switch-on event for the safety of all those who would be involved in the concert.
Image: Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town's iconic festive lights switch-on event has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

The city announced the decision on Sunday, saying because of the pandemic and the extension of the national disaster management act and restrictions on the number of people allowed at public gatherings, it was important to pause the event for the safety of all those who would be involved in the concert.

The free open-air concert draws a crowd of about 100,000 people annually and sets the tone for the city's festive season.

“It was important for the city to take into consideration the need for austerity, given the adverse impact the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has had on the economy,” said mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Smith said the city understands the disappointment that could arise from the decision, but there was a silver lining.

“The lights switch-on is the city’s signature event which has helped usher in the joyous season for five decades while also providing entertainment for locals and tourists,” he said.

“The city is considering hosting several smaller events as part of the Cape Town CBD revitalisation programme, the first of which is set to take place at \Greenmarket Square this week.”

Smith said these events would be organised in line with the national lockdown restrictions and with health and safety protocols in place.

“We are also in discussion with event organisers to bring their events to the CBD. We believe events will be central in revitalising the economy going forward,” he said.

Smith said events have over the years been a major catalyst in the growth of auxiliary sectors such as hospitality, retail, and tourism because the people attracted to the events hosted in the city spent money there.

“Over the past seven months the events industry has seen a downturn and job losses due to regulations. The city has to assist in arresting this decline by supporting event organisers as much as we can to ensure the sector remains afloat. This is critical for thousands of people who rely on the industry to feed their families,” Smith said.

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