A day after the Cape Town High Court dismissed on Tuesday the DA’s bid to have the beaches along the Garden Route reopened, the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday handed down a similar ruling against civil society organisation, AfriForum.
AfriForum’s legal team had lodged an application to have beaches along the Garden Route and the Eastern Cape reopened and have Covid-19 regulations 69(12) (a), (b), (c) and (d) declared unconstitutional.
These regulations stipulate, inter alia, that all beaches in the Eastern Cape, as well as on the Garden Route, will be closed from December 16 to January 3. They also stipulate that all beaches in KwaZulu-Natal will be closed on December 16, 25, 26 and 31, as well as from January 1 to 3.
The high court, however, ruled against the motion, meaning the regulations as stipulated above remain in place.
The DA took the matter to court on Monday, arguing that government’s decision to close the beaches during the festive season would have devastating consequences for the tourism sector.
AfriForum were the first to approach the courts last week, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that beaches along the Garden Route and in the Eastern Cape would be closed until January 3 in a bid to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
Following the unfavourable ruling, AfriForum’s legal team said it was of the opinion that, although the urgent application did not succeed, what was important was highlighting the disastrous effects the closure of beaches would have on businesses.
“It is also important to take note that the court’s judgment does not excuse the government’s action, but adjudged that the government’s decision to close beaches was indeed valid,” said AfriForum legal representative Daniël Eloff.
AfriForum head of campaigns Monique Taute said: “Although AfriForum is disappointed with the outcome of the case, the organisation would like to encourage the public to still visit their favourite holiday destinations and support the local businesses, to lighten the financial burden in these coastal towns. These businesses will most likely now suffer immense and, in most cases, irreparable damage due to the fact that most holiday-makers cancelled their holiday plans because the beaches are closed.
“According to a scientific study, the chance of contracting Covid-19 in the outdoors is about 1%. AfriForum therefore maintains that to visit the beach is a form of recreation that takes place outdoors and people are exposed to the sun that contributes to a healthier immune system. The alternative is that people will turn to places such as shopping centres and restaurants that hold a much higher risk of spreading the virus.”