GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT NEWS - George and Kannaland municipalities have decided to close their function venues and sport facilities due to the Covid-19 resurgence.
All planned events at these facilities have been cancelled for at least the whole of December.
According to Garden Route Disaster Management chief Gerhard Otto, this will be applicable until such time as the infection rate has flattened to a satisfactory level. "We will relook this decision in January."
He said the other municipalities are to follow the same strategy.
Otto said big public events at private venues (where the District Council's approval would have been needed even if there had been no Covid-19), are subject to the existing Level 1 regulations. The organisers must apply for approval and must submit a medical Covid-19 management plan for their event. Each application will be considered on its own merit. "This is the strategy for now, Wednesday 2 December, but it might change on Friday when the President makes his announcement regarding the way forward," said Otto.
Municipal guidelines for camping facilities and venues where holidaymakers may find themselves are being formulated.
Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell said in a statement yesterday, Tuesday 1 December, that large numbers of visitors are expected in the province over the next few weeks, which further increases the risk of infection. "This requires drastic action which we are not afraid to take.”
Bredell's spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, told George Herald this morning that it is likely that most applications for big events will be rejected. "This may seem drastic, but we are trying to avoid a draconian lockdown. People must understand that we are in the midst of a worldwide disaster. We are trying to bring down the infection rate."
Premier Alan Winde said in a statement last night that he would be arguing against a lockdown for the Western Cape today, Wednesday 2 December, when the Presidential Coordinating Council meets, where the President consults with the nine premiers. This meeting follows a meeting of the National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC) on Tuesday to discuss the resurgence in some provinces, including the Western Cape. "As I have announced before, the Western Cape Government and local governments in the province are considering their own localised interventions and restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 in line with our own respective powers, and we will be setting out our response plan at my weekly digital press conference on Thursday."
Event organiser KD Fourie of Herold's Bay Resort, who has been planning eight music shows between 19 and 31 December with well-known South African artists at his Bush Lapa venue, said he has put everything on hold until the authorities make an announcement regarding restrictions at private venues. "I have not yet made tickets available for any of my December shows and our marketing has been put on hold. Last week, people started to react indifferently towards bookings for both the Bok van Blerk shows after it became known in the media that the Garden Route has become a hotspot."
The Bush Lapa, a semi-open-air venue, can accommodate 250 people under the current restrictions. "Because it is a bar/restaurant venue, it is however difficult to police mask wearing. People need to take responsibility," he said.
Fourie said some people from northern parts in the country who have made bookings long in advance for the Christmas lunch at their other venue, Down to Earth Restaurant, have also started to cancel since media has started to report of the Garden Route being a hotspot area.
He expressed concern about the effect restrictions could have on the state of the Southern Cape economy. "After the lockdown this year, the region is in desperate need of the December injection. If this does not happen, 2021 will be disastrous for local businesses."
Fourie said he and comedian Barry Hilton have decided to postpone Hilton’s show which was planned for this coming Friday, 4 December, to a later date next year.
'Regulations being enforced'
Bredell said the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and its stakeholders are already enforcing existing disaster management regulations across the province with roadblocks, blitzes and unannounced visits to high-risk areas to ensure compliance. “Our work comes down to enforcing disaster management protocols to help slow down the spread of the virus in the Western Cape. We are doing enforcement with the resources at our disposal and in partnership with national police, municipal law enforcement, and the departments of Labour and Health, to name a few.”
"The Covid pandemic is not a sprint. It is a marathon,” Bredell emphasized. “We are all in this marathon together and if we all work together, more of us will reach the end of this pandemic and certainly much sooner. If we don’t work together in the coming weeks, we may see the situation get increasingly worse.”
Report violations of Covid protocols
Violations of Covid-19 protocols can be reported as follows:
* Use the online complaint form available at this link: https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/covid-19-business-safety-complaint-form
* Dial *134*234# to report non-compliance of public transport
* For Covid-19 health related queries, the provincial Covid-19 toll-free hotline number is 080 928 4102
* For general queries, the Western Cape Government's contact centre can be reached on 0860 142 142
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