Curfew change to help restaurants serve dinner, leisure tourism opens a bit more

Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (Supplied)
Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (Supplied)

In response to a plea by restaurants, Cabinet has agreed to move the curfew to start at 22:00 from 21:00 to allow for uninterrupted dinner service at restaurants, Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced during a briefing on Thursday.

"We believe that this change will go a long way towards increasing their revenue generation. The sale of alcohol remains prohibited," she announced.

When the curfew will be changed is still to be announced.

As for accommodation, she announced that Cabinet has agreed to ease the restrictions around leisure travel.

"Currently, individuals are not allowed to leave their homes for leisure purposes. After the release of the new regulations, individuals will be permitted to leave their homes for leisure purposes within the province where they currently live," she said.

"Let me emphasise, it is only intra-provincial travel not inter-provincial travel. Individuals are still not permitted to travel between provinces for leisure purposes."

No more than two people per room will be allowed except for a nuclear family, which means parents and their children.

"Establishments are already legally obliged to require and keep a copy of proof of identity," she said.

Short-term home rental or sharing remains closed.

Under the new regulations, tour operators will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles subject to directions and include provision for both social distancing and maximum ventilation.

These changes will come into effect as soon as the new regulations are Gazetted.

"Going forward we will invite health practitioners who are advising government on how best to manage the pandemic to meet with our sector so that together we can strategise on the way forward and are armed with all the necessary information," said the minister.

"We have also agreed to formalise our working relationship with sector players through a formation of a task team that brings together a broad spectrum of private sector players and officials from the Department of Tourism to work towards reopening the sector and resolving other sector challenges."

She said in the past three months work has been done on developing a tourism recovery strategy. This has culminated in a draft Tourism Recovery Plan document. Submissions on a draft plan can be made from 1 to 15 August, before the plan will be finalised and submitted to Cabinet.

"As we work towards the recovery, let us ensure that we rebuild a sector that embraces women as equally capable economic actors. A sector that is not inclusive is not sustainable," said Kubayi-Ngubane.

"We understand that these are extremely difficult times for the sector, however, we believe that this situation demands that we work together to weather the storm going forward."

The minister also announced that tour guides will now be allowed to offer tours in open safari vehicles under certain conditions.

The adjustments still have to be Gazetted.

"Over the last four months we worked hard with the tourism sector to find innovative ways for earlier opening of the sector. Protocols and guidelines for the tourism sector yielded results, including restaurants, casinos and self-drives that were allowed. We are learning as we go and are looking at global practices," she said.

"We believe in one step at a time. We are walking in the right direction. The impact of the pandemic has been devastating and many businesses are at risk of being lost of closed. However, we are doing everything we can to ensure the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector is minimised."

Alderman James Vos, the City of Cape Town's Mayoral Committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, said leisure travel within provinces the first step on the road to recovery – but may be too little too late.

He further welcomes the extension of the curfew to 22:00 to allow restaurants to serve dinner at this peak time. However, in his view, the curfew should be completely removed to allow the hospitality industry to start to recover from the devastating effects of the lockdown.

Sun International's group Coo for hospitality, Graham Wood, welcomes the announcement from the tourism ministry that intra provincial travel restrictions are to be lifted as its casino hotels can now welcome visitors.

"Some of our properties such as the Wild Coast Sun and Golden Valley Casino in Worcester are very dependent on out of town visitors. We have our extensive health and safety protocols in place so we are ready to reopen and we are confident that we can more than meet governments safety standards," commented Wood.

"Moving the curfew until 22:00 will also positively impact on trade at our restaurants and casinos. Unfortunately, resorts such as Sun City will have to remain closed until inter provincial travel can resume."

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