A popular summer question along South Africa’s coast – to beach or not to beach?
If you are holidaying anywhere along the Garden Route, or plan on doing so soon, there’s now a pretty easy answer to that one.
Sorry, the beach is closed until January 3.
A reminder that in KwaZulu-Natal, beaches will be closed on December 25, 26, and 31, and January 1, 2, and 3.
In Cape Town, beaches may only be visited between 9AM and 6PM.
(Those with a fishing permit can still fish on South Africa’s beaches outside of curfew hours – more here.)
Back to the Garden Route, and a slew of cancellations that have put the tourism sector in the area under further strain.
This from Business Day:
The cost of cancellations is expected to run into hundreds of millions of rand, which could lead to more job losses and businesses closing. It’s another blow to SA’s tourism industry, which was among the hardest hit during the initial lockdown, which closed down virtually the whole economy in late March before being progressively eased…
Plettenberg Bay Tourism CEO Patty Butterworth said the town, which had been counting on a successful festive season to make up some of the losses from the initial lockdown, could lose more than R200m. The cancellation of its Rage Festival would cost R48m, she said…
The Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association was said to be totally blindsided by President Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday night, but did state that it supported the closing of beaches on yesterday’s date, as well as December 25 and January 1.
Knysna Tourism CEO Colleen Durant also stated that there have already been a “substantial number” of cancellations in the area.
Speaking with TimesLIVE, Butterworth pointed to inconsistencies between Durban beach closures and Garden Route closures:
Butterworth said Durban — where beaches will only close on peak days — had 200km of beaches, with some located adjacent to a big city, that were inherently overcrowded.
“Plettenberg Bay has 20km of widely spread unspoilt beach. If Durban beaches can remain open, common sense would suggest that a small beach town would be less of a threat and should stay open. Durban tourism statistics for 2019 show that more than 314,000 tourists arrived in December. Plettenberg Bay welcomes approximately 35,000 tourists.”
Emergency meetings between various Garden Route authorities started from Tuesday, with DA leader John Steenhuisen saying the party is planning an interdict against the current beach closure regulations.
Whatever the outcome, many of those who have cancelled their Garden Route holidays will already have made alternate plans, and a dire December and January could spell the end for businesses that were already in dire financial peril.
As of the latest stats released last night, South Africa recorded 10 008 new COVID-19 cases in just 24 hours, with 166 deaths.
Worryingly, when announcing those numbers, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize added that the country’s positivity rate was sitting at 21%, which far exceeded the ideal positivity rate of 10%.
This graphic, tweeted by Dr Mkhize, breaks the latest stats down further:
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