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Beach, no: Ramaphosa closes beaches in Eastern Cape, Garden Route and on specific days in KZN

14 December 2020 - 21:53 By thabo mokone

There will be no going to the beach this December for the people of the Eastern Cape and in the Western Cape's Garden Route — and beach days will be banned on specific days in KwaZulu-Natal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Monday night as he presented new measures to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19 across SA, as the country battled a second wave of the killer respiratory disease.

Ramaphosa said the new measures were necessary to preserve lives after the Covid-19 infection rate shot up to levels last seen earlier this year. The cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in SA is 866,127.

Unlike the first wave, this time the new infections have affected youngsters in the age group 15-19.

It wasn't just beaches that would be closed during the festive season. The president said that after discussions at the National Coronavirus Command Council, social and religious gatherings would now be limited to no more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 people for outdoor events.

Ramaphosa said the new safety measures would come into effect immediately at midnight on Monday, adding that social gathering and parties where masks and social distancing were not being observed have proven to be super-spreaders of the virus.

Music festivals at beaches have also been prohibited with immediate effect.

“All gatherings must include adequate ventilation, social distancing, wearing of masks and provision of hand-sanitiser. Due to the potential for transmission, all post-funeral gatherings, including ‘after-tears’ parties, are prohibited,” said Ramaphosa.

“One of the greatest challenges we need to confront are the huge crowds that flock to beaches and recreational parks on public holidays over the festive season. We have undertaken extensive consultations on this issue so that we can find an approach that reduces the risk of large-scale transmission while limiting the negative impact on businesses in coastal areas.”

Ramaphosa said the command council resolved to adopt a “differentiated approach” to the situation in KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, three of the provinces largely accountable for the second wave of the coronavirus. Landlocked Gauteng is the fourth of the hard-hit provinces.

“In the areas with the highest rate of infection, beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from December 16 to January 3. This will apply to all of the Eastern Cape, as well as to the Garden Route district in the Western Cape.

“In KwaZulu-Natal, beaches and public parks will be closed on what are traditionally the busiest days of the season. These days are the December 16, 25, 26 and 31 and January 1, 2 and 3.

“The beaches and public parks of the Northern Cape and the Western Cape — with the exception of the Garden Route — will remain open to the public over the festive season.

“Festivals, live music, and live performances at beaches are prohibited. Beaches and parks that are open to the public will only be open between 9am and 6pm. 

“The situation will be monitored daily by local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations on gatherings and the prohibition of alcohol.

“In instances, where there are large crowds or poor compliance with safety measures, specific beaches and recreational parks will be closed.

“National and provincial parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to  the public.

“This is a most trying situation, which requires constant attention. I have directed that all members of the National Coronavirus Command Council and key personnel should be on standby to ensure constant monitoring and assessment of the situation countrywide. Should the situation deteriorate, further action will be taken to protect our people,” he said.