Provinces split on closure of beaches ahead of Ramaphosa address

Jacaranda FM reports - The country's busiest period is approaching and holidaymakers are preparing to visit popular tourist destinations.

There are growing concerns that some could be at a high-risk of contracting Covid-19 during gatherings at beaches across the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address the nation on Monday when he is expected to announce a series of measures to try and curb the second wave of infections.

Provincial government spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha says Eastern Cape beaches will be closed.

"The leadership of the Eastern Cape provincial government and leadership of coastal municipalities have taken a decision to close beaches and recreational parks. The main purpose is to stop the spread of Covid-19 infections.

"We have realised and identified that having open activities at these facilities or places poses a huge risk.”

He adds the decision has been communicated to national government.

"Once this decision is taken after our engagement with national government we will announce the effect of this decision and when does it kick in and we are optimistic that the people of our government will comply with this.

"We are also looking at other issues that we have identified as contributing to the spread of infections, including preparations for funerals."

Cape Town MMC for community services and health Zahid Badroodien says the province’s approximately 307 kilometres of coastline will be Covid-ready.

"We've been guided very much by a scientific evidence approach that suggests that beaches are much safer spaces to keep open because of the ventilation and because it's much easier to enforce social distancing at places like beaches.

"For this reason, the city has spent a significant amount of money in the employment of lifeguards and workers that will participate in our identikits programme, beach buddies, facility officers, additional safety and security," says Badroodien.

"The City of Cape Town's position is that we prefer, and we've been advocating with our colleagues in the various spheres, to have beaches remain open.”

KwaZulu-Natal government spokesperson Lennox Mabaso says the province is still in consultations, but it also looks set to keep beaches open.

"Premier Sihle Zikalala has announced that the provincial government in not contemplating any closure of the beaches, he's seeking to keep the beaches.

"But of course, whatever advice we receive from the National Coronavirus Command Council we will abide by it. There are a number of permutations and options on the table."

Mabaso adds one of the options may be to keep beaches open but not allow swimming.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has warned national government against plunging the local economy into deeper trouble.

"The biggest tourist attraction is the beaches and people going to beaches and surrounding areas and that's where the tourism industry thrive in particular. If you close beaches the biggest attraction will be eliminated," says the opposition's Manny de Freitas.

"That won't prevent people from going to coastal areas but what tourists will be doing instead is going to large malls for example, which is exactly the area which you don't want people to go."

South Africa's tourism sector is only beginning to recover from months of hard lockdown

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